Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Nation that didn’t understand

Vietnam veterans are unique as the only group of combat veterans in the history of this country who returned home to be reviled, vilified and abused rather than honored and appreciated. We are one of the most unjustly-maligned groups in American history.

As young men and women we answered the nations call to protect the world from the spread of Communism, at least that is what we believed. Some of us were drafted and many of us volunteered to serve for a cause we believed in. We all left are youth and innocence in Southeast Asia. Most of us are still haunted by the things we saw and did while we were there and over 58,000 of our brothers and sisters never made it home from that war.

When a nation of young people are drafted and forced into a war they may or may not agree with, then I think a country is asking for trouble from the onset. How does a country get enthusiasm for a war that is possibly reviled and hated by those forced into slavery via the draft board? So not only did people back home start to hate the war, many Vietnam veterans came home, disillusioned, broken and not even welcomed with open arms. Instead of returning to America with a bang, our return was more like a whimper and a sigh from the general public. To this day, I may not even be absolutely certain why we were in Vietnam, except, while there I felt it was a useful endeavor. I, as did many military people, felt we were halting the spread of Communism, maybe we were maybe it was just a good sell on the spin doctor’s part when it came to selling a war to people. I do know that sometimes, Americans presence brought indignation and hatred and even death upon some of the Vietnamese people for being accused of siding with America, from the Viet Cong’s point of view. At other times, it brought anger and indignation from Americans who accused the people of siding with the Viet Cong. It grew very difficult for the Vietnamese citizens to look at us all with kindness when treated as such by those of us there to help.

Why do I mention all of that? Well, the newscasters would often do stories about the Zippo Wars, as many Americans began to call the pictures of burning villages at the hands of some military people. To be fair, many military people, by later in the war, began to surmise that the support back home, as well as the chain of command was beginning to break down. American politicians began playing politics with young lives, those who were in Vietnam, without batting an eyelash. The resentment on the part of military people began to take hold.

Vietnam was the only war in history that was televised live nightly for people to watch. The unfiltered images grew on people’s minds and brought about the large uprisings a groundswell of opposition to the war and the strong passion ignited by the anti-war activists Vietnam Veterans were grossly mistreated when they returned home. It was the summer of 1969 when I myself returned home and I remember taking my DD 214 down to the local town clerk to have it posted in the records, like a dummy I wore my uniform that day as a proud soldier returning home, people would stare at me and some even spat at me and called me baby killer. From the images that people saw on the news they assumed that we were all baby killers and we were all looked down upon. For four decades Vietnam Vets have been vilifed by some factions of the public. Vietnam vets are still treated with contempt in some circles, and the false stereotype continues to be repeated, often innocently. It's time to educate the American public about our Vietnam Veterans. For those of you who are too young to remember the truth, the lies have been repeated so often that they are generally accepted as the truth.


Television brought the brutality of war
into the comfort of the living room.
Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America
- not on the battlefields of
--- Marshall McLuhan, 1975


Vietnam War myths: A common belief: The U.S. lost the war in Vietnam

Fact: The South Vietnamese people lost the war once funding from Congress was cut off. In fact, the U.S. won every major battle fought in Vietnam. So there is NO reason for veterans to ever feel defeated.

Myth: Most Vietnam veterans were drafted.

Fact: Two thirds of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. Some even volunteered for the draft, so those who were officially listed as being drafted, were, in fact volunteers.

Myth: A disproportionate number of blacks were killed in Vietnam. Many back home believed that blacks were used as ‘cannon fodder’ in battles.

Fact: 86% of the men who died in Vietnam were white and 12.5% were black while 1.2% came from other races. In the book: All That We Can Be, authors, Moskos and Butler said they did analyze that claim and could report most definitely that ‘blacks being used as cannon fodder’ is absolutely not true.

The biggest lie of all : We lost the war in Vietnam

How could we loose a war that we already stopped fighting. The last American troops departed Vietnam on the 29th of March 1973. The fall of Saigon did not happen until two years later on the 30th of April 1975.*******************

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