Veterans Honor POWs, Reflect on Vietnam/Iraq War Comparisons

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On a day when patriotism took center stage, Rockford's Vietnow paid tribute to soldiers, both past and present, but as American deaths in Iraq recently topped 1,000, some say Iraq is becoming a modern-day Vietnam, a comparison veterans say has some merit.

"In the case of Iraq and Vietnam, both they found out it's a long process. It takes much more time than expected and unfortunately a lot of lives can be lost in the process," Vietnam veteran Ashley Davis said.

Another issue facing American soldiers in Iraq is the uncertainty of who's friend and who's foe, a constant battle inside the battle that Vietnam veterans also faced. In Vietnam, you had a hard time, many times knowing who the enemy was because they were farmers by day, fighters by night, and you have same problem in Iraq because you don't know necessarily who's the enemy," veteran Darrell Gilgan said.

Veterans hope that unlike Vietnam, the support for Iraq won't dramatically decrease as casualties increase.

"Very early in the Vietnam conflict, Americans here were also behind the soldiers 100 percent; college kids, everyone, but as the war dragged on, then the dissension came out," Davis said.

But while some have shifted their opinion about the war in Iraq, Vietnam veterans say the greatest difference is that very few have shifted their feelings for the soldiers fighting it.

"There are similarities but what isn't similar is the support for the men and women over there which is vital," Rockford Vietnow Ron Cummings said.

"If you are going to send these people over there you need to support them, it's not a pro-war issue or an anti-war issue, it's a pro-troops issue," Gilgan said.