The war was like nothing like anything we know here at home. It challenged all the values I'd grown up with. Life was not precious or sacred, or even fair. There were few thoughts of patriotizm as bullets wizzied past my ear. There was tramendous fear and adrenalin. All my thoughts focused on how to stay alive, then how to keep those around me alive. There was no place I felt completely safe and out in the jungle I felt totally vulnerable. I lead the column about every third day. It terrigied me every time. Instant reactions could mean the difference between life and death. I learned to shut down my emotions so they wouldn't be a distraction to sensing my immediate surroundings. Lots of friends were lost but the war didn't stop to give us time to grieve, we had to keep going out, mission after mission.
I think our country lost a lot in the war. We lost confidence in our ability to sustain a fight based on our "American" ideals. Internationally, nations couldn't expect our undivided support and our enemies discovered there are limits to the price we will pay depending on the precieved threat or lack thereof, felt by people and politicians back home. All the human errors and frailaties we had were screened to the world on nightly news accounts of the worst that was happening that day.
We often don't realize that the news media is a business and has to make money to survive. News that sells is filled with controversy and mistakes people make under terrible circimstances. It's OK to show the world our faults because we are "free" to do so, but a constant diet of all that's wrong distorts reality and overshadows good.
I remember the war protests while I was in Vietnam and after I came home. They made absolutely no difference in the circumstanses I was in - they did nothing that changed the war for me. I had 365 days to serve in Vietnam and 365 days to try and stay alive whether there were protests or not. Back home, I tried to ignore them. I thought they were misguided young idealists who were being used by those who wanted to do harm to our country. I couldn't understand how they could possibly think the world would be better if the US unilaterally left South Vietnam. It wouldn't stop the aggression, killing and terrorism from Communist North Vietnam. Turning our back didn't make it go away.
After years of guilt and depression I've realized I can not go back in time and change anything, therefore, I don't torture myself any longer about what I might have done differently to save more of the kids around me. Life is a process constrianed by time moving in one direction. The terror and horror of war in my youth drove me to find all that is good and true in my later adult years. I hope it dosen't require the pain and long gap in time for you to discover the bigger reality of life.
Last bumped by Anonymous on Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:55 pm.