Even as the American people began to sour on the war in Iraq, nearly everyone who spoke out against it took pains to distinguish between a policy they considered misguided and the men and women who were carrying it out.

That is no accident, said Andrew Brennan, a former Army officer deployed in Afghanistan.

My generation owes a hug debt of gratitude to the Vietnam guys for that," he said.

Brennan will participate in a ceremony Saturday on the National Mall in Washington commemorating the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War, America's most divisive foreign conflict.

The event will feature speakers, including a Medal of Honor recipient who tackled a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.

"After that, everybody will be putting in some elbow grease," Brennan said, referring to plans to clean the Vietnam Memorial.

"This is personally for me, a pretty cool event," said Brennan.

Personal because Brennan has a relative who died in combat during the Vietnam War. "I actually have a cousin whose name is on that wall," he said
And to all the service men and women in the past, now and in the future.