Thirty years ago, Memorial Day brought a special visitor to Northwest Indiana.

Gen. William C. Westmoreland commanded the nation's armed forces from 1964 to 1968 during the Vietnam War, and then as U.S. Army chief of staff. He fought in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam.

By the time he spoke at Stoney Run County Park in Leroy, on May 26, 1986, attitudes about the controversial war had begun to shift.

Memorial Day 1986

The Times covered former U.S. Army General William Westmoreland's visit to Stoney Run County Park for Memorial Day on May 26, 1986.

"The Vietnam War was a period unique in American history," he told the crowd of several hundred veterans gathered despite the pouring rain. "It has left scars that may be with us for years. But those scars are beginning to heal."

People who disagree with American involvement in, and execution of, the war in southeast Asia weren't directing their anger at the servicemen who returned from the war.

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"History may judge the American aid to South Vietnam as one of man's most noble undertakings," Westmoreland said.

That judging is still going on. History takes a long time to determine these things.

Memorial Day events are still going on, too. Get out today and participate. If you don't go to a ceremony, at least go to a cemetery. Honor the dead, especially those who gave their lives to their country. They've earned it.

Politics/History Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.