When I was growing up the Vietnam War was on TV every single day. We ate TV dinners on portable tables made for the task. Body counts, combat deaths, propaganda, and manipulation were an every day experience. A kid moved in across the street and we would play together until my mom found out that the reason there was no father present was because he was flying B-52’s in Vietnam. I was never allowed to cross the street again. When the Tet Offensive happened in January 1968 we were soon told by the press that it was an unwinnable war. I asked my mom how they could predict the future like that and got my ass beat for not just believing what I was being told. Over the years I have met many Vietnam Vets and cherish the friendships that I still have with many of them. I have watched many movies about the war and I wish I had had a chance to fight in Vietnam. That being said, I am not a fan of accusing people of murder in any combat situation. Nobody knows what is on everybody’s plate or what their entire mission involves. Like the movie Apocalypse Now stated: accusing people of murder in Vietnam is like passing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.


2 thoughts on “Vietnam

  1. Paul Nachbar

    I also grew up during the Vietnam war but may have had partly due to age and partly due to territory different experiences When I was in high school for instance ( a rather late war experience) my parents hosted a West Point Cadet as part of some program they were involved with Seemed like a decent nice guy We hung out and had friendly but I guess rather superficial talk and then he left either to go back to school or to go off to Vietnam I forget now. At that age I had some other experiences.and as I once wrote you, volunteered to work for what you may have regarded as a Liberal (almost a curse word at times among some groups now as conservative as with others) local campaign in New York for about two weekdays The issues would not go away though almost everybody besides me was polarized in their opinion a not unfamiliar scenario in America After I quit my part time work at the campaign — my attempt to talk to a housewife ( I was a pretty short skinny very friendly innocent looking kid) who lived two blocks away from my mother led her to hurl her young son behind her and run in the house as if I were Satan or at least one of the major demons sent by Satan to destroy her life values ideas and beliefs Disappointed with such and hurt ( i had a pretty tender ego) I went back to my honors world history class taught by a male greek teacher who loved to tell the story over and over again of how Socrates ,2500 years before had chosen society over self and agreed to die because he was judged as having broken the rules and norms of his citystateThe teacher seemed to like and grade highly work I did on some of the things that the conservative so called government of richard nixon was doing not only to squash the anti war movement but to invade the privacy of all Americans (something every regime here has done) for the sake supposedly of high ideals and patriotism but which every court has ultimately agreed was distorted self interests and or distorted partisanship I spoke too to a member of my class, who was either Irish or Scottish who wanted to go to West Point There was nothing wrong with that as far as I saw just not my thing but he also said –and here I strongly disagreed that protests against the war of any kind should be illegal. This does not mean that i was a cartoon liberal or socialist or a cartoon anything This was not only the gist of the first amendment but the Vietnam War was not a war of American survival against direct threats according to any strategist but a proxy war that was getting very unpopular. I never went to an anti war protest by the way nor did I go to a pro war rally Generally because it involved a lot of to me painful name calling and insults and absolutely nobody was fond of or needed somebody ‘too intellectual’ or too calm and aloof’ though this was not me at all What was the Nike slogan “Just do it! Great depending on what side you are in part but i am also a human being and beyond being a good and patriotic American in my own eyes a citizen of this planet That is to say Vietnamese people whether for us or against us or both were human too. Your statistics about American death totals are in the ballpark: 50,000 killed but many many more injuries which is akin to the then yearly figure of deaths by traffic accidents.Do you have any idea how many Vietnamese were killed whether as necessary or unnecessary casualties of war? A million? Two million? Three million? I could look it up again but the figure seemed at the time and now totally irrelevant to all Americans I spoke to across the political spectrum Or something they did not want to be reminded about.because it was negativitiy or pessimism or bad news or stuff we had heard enough about or which was too complex for anybody to understand What??The American Revolution in the 18th century which had led to our nation was in a large strip of land, 13 colonies whose total population (gotta check my figures again) was around 3 million people of which (like Vietnam in the 20th century) 90 percent were farmers most of them probably though doing better than the vietnamese farmers for a variety of reasons Indeed my mother told me among many things when I was a small child that the “Vietnamese” about whom she knew nothing or next to nothing were ‘not like us’ because when one died they did not ‘mourn their dead like we do” So what had America done in 200 years after our Revolution ? It looks like to some extent we became the very British whose real or alleged tyranny we rebelled against whether we knew it or not or wanted to think about it or feel much or not Okay so what ?A lot of them died or got injured and maybe we did one or two things wrong and should interrupt business as usual for a national day of remembrance or prayer or fasting but so what?Life moves on We are number one or were number one or could sink lower than that and do we want to be number two or number three or number four and have all the rules imposed on us by others? And is that the real meaning of ‘life liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” Hey I could be an idiot and an eccentric and a stick in the mud and a bunch of other things but maybe it is??After all Thomas Jefferson who penned the document – and who was pretty damn rich and aristocratic and practical but also brilliant in many different and tangible ways originally wrote “property” instead of “happiness”- as in our nation was all about the pursuit of property as a basic principle or one of the top three until the elder wiser and smoother around the edges Ben Franklin told him to alter the phrase so as not to upset the proverbial applecart among the young American people We all want happiness but I guess it is pragmatic to be or hide behind the folks like Jefferson or Washington who were in the top .01 percent probably in terms of colonial wealth plus a few who were in the top .01 percent of intellect like Franklin Addams etc.Years later of course ex presidents Jefferson and Adams had a correspondance where they discussed what they had actually accomplished if anything in the revolution Or essentially “did we really do better than our Moms and Dads or our Moms and Dads in school and other places who had functioned in locis parentis before the revolutionary consciousness set in ? (in lieu of parents) My guess?Slightly better in some areas slightly worse in others Much better in some areas Much worse in others Much better and much worse in areas ‘we’ dont’ ever want to discuss openly” Same as anywhere else so what else is ever really new about anything (except me of course, your friend in New York)?

  2. Paul Nachbar

    this may or may not be accurate but usually it seems to me -far far away from top and maybe objective academics experts or authorities if they exist pretty good 3 plus million Vietnamese dead enemy and or not and perhaps in some ways it was impossible for ‘us’ to tell who was who and most of ‘us’ did not care. I did when I was focussed on the subject (not very often) a brief survey among friends inspired by some adult guy we met at a ski lodge with my family and the friends we travelled with Nobody knew where the hell Vietnam was on a globe or the history language etc among reasonably well bred reasonably normal happy educated and intelligent kids and their parents When Stalin or Mao or Hitler or Mussolini or some of those bad guys then or now would make I guess semi public comments about the “necessary costs : of a Nazi or Communist or other type of Monolithic Future eg millions of lives or tens of millions or hundreds of millions very few of their followers or satellites who wanted to live or who cared about individualism said anything and this was business as usual except perhaps to a small handful of people who were offended at the inhumanity and not possibly losing as a team effort.for world domination.What did the American Revolution start over? A stamp tax which was not really at all that heavy a tax as taxes go ? Forcing the 13 colonies as part of the British Empire to put up British soldiers ? Other insults between and among groups essentially of cousins clubs or brothers and sisters clubs on both sides of the Atlantic who did not see eye to eye about issues of freedom and responsibility?Insults such as this which prompted enormous pamphlet wars ie propaganda wars among the talented and literate or propertied or blooded of the colonies? Well of course almost nobody among “us ” had Vietnames and or other non caucasian christian or anglo saxon cousins or siblings (and vice versa) so they were not quite human to us and we were not quit4e human to them unless they joined together with some third parties and or proxies to attack us or we joined together with some third parties and or proxies to attack them Brilliant eh? If probably humanly understandable from every single so calle3d individual and group point of view. alas


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