My perspective of the Vietnam war was from a 22 year old draftee sent out to fight in the jungles and rice paddies of South Vietnam. My training was adequate but I was not prepared for the challenge to all the values I'd grown up with. It turned out that life was not precious or sacred and could be easily wasted for little reason. We learned to protect one another during difficult circumstances and some taught us what self sacrifice really was. The entire one year tour was spent dreaming about what we'd do when we got home and fearing we might not make it in one piece. I was blessed to make it through the entire year without a scratch even though I walked point about every third day for nearly ten months.
After arriving back home, my view of the world had changed. What had become all consuming and inpacting for the last year had no value back home. The American Dream was achieved without suffering together or protecting one another and it certainly didn't require self sacrifice. The experiiences of Vietnam had no meaning back home so like many veterans I tried to bury everything about the war and just get on with life. I couldn't erase the memories that made me different from "normal" people. I've never felt like I fit in with our society again- most didn't care what had happened to us, some blamed us for loosing the war, others were angery that we participated at all.
I am not anti-war, in fact, I believe wars are inevitable because they are simply a part of our human nature. There will always be those individuals and nations who will take what they want from others until stopped by force. Some will provide that force out of a sense of justice while others are ready to take advantage of both sides for personal gain. To me, war should be used to conquer an enemy and politics should be a tool to reach a compromise that a majority can live with. Mixing the two becomes real confusing for everyone.
There was enough right and wrong on both sides in the war to support any political position one may want to take. War is a very costly alternative to problem solving and should not be used capriciously. The Vietnam war completely changed my life. All the terror, pain and horror eventually drove me to find all that is right and good. I hope it doesn't that such a jolt for you to find peace beyond what is in the world.
Last bumped by Anonymous on Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:04 pm.