Monday, May 04, 2009

Vietnam – Part 2, Aftermath & Awakening

In Part 1, I mentioned that I was no longer concerned about Vietnam after I was clear of it. That was true for about 20-years until I made my first and only visit to the Wall in Washington. I recalled the furor over its design and had decided that it was an ugly monument to an ugly war…I wanted no part of it.

After the passing of 20-years, we had been sold a bill of goods by a Leftist dominated media, that we had lost that war. But those of us who were “there” knew better. America lost not one single battle during that war, nor was there a single instance of an American retreat. Those of us who were “there” saw the incredible mismatch in weaponry and fighting personnel. We had essentially no opposition in the air or at sea. Ground opposition, while credible and tenacious, was simply no match in terms of tactics or training.

No, the correct description of how that war ended is that our political class elected not to win it. I know this argument has been raging for nearly 40-years, and I have no interest in arguing it further here; suffice it to say that within any given 30-day period, given the go-ahead, I believe we could easily have taken Hanoi and as much else of the place as we wanted. To have left the issue undecided as we did, dishonored an entire generation of American soldiers and left open the door for them to have been shamefully disrespected upon their return home.

Those like me, who arrived home from overseas inside a military base and simply drove out the gate saw none of the stupidity seen by some of our brothers when they arrived home in some of the various airports where they deplaned. To this day, few of us openly acknowledge our service although none of us have anything to be ashamed of and each and every one of us have secured an honored place in the history of these United States. That honored place is a spot in the line of march started by our fathers and brothers of the 1776 Revolution.

We were visiting D.C. some years ago when my wife suggested that we go see the Wall. I replied, no…I didn’t know anyone on it and really had no interest in it. She persisted…maybe she was the one who really wanted to see it, so we went.

It was a scene not unlike the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan where the old timer slowly walks amidst the grave markers with his family walking quietly behind and tears flood his eyes. Now, I fancy myself a tough nut, but for some inexplicable reason, more and more tears flooded my eyes as we walked along that Wall. The Wall seemed to rise out of the ground with a couple of names even with my ankles; then more names as the Wall rose to my knees; and many, many more names as the Wall dwarfed me near the center. The overwhelming sense was that I had been a very, very lucky man to have gotten through that mess alive and unbroken.

I don’t recall any particular name on the Wall, but do recall there being a large number of ethnic surnames…surely they were the guys who weren’t so clever as we were to find an easier way through to the other side.

One visit was enough…I haven’t been back since and have no plans to do so again. I wouldn’t trade the fellowship of any one of those guys on the Wall for a whole room full of the screaming protesters that greeted us when we came home. As for those who found legitimate ways to avoid service, I have no problem with them as long as their strategies were lawful; however, if I were one of them, I would forever wonder if one of the kids named on that Wall had taken my place.

Adios - (See Wetterling's "Still the Noblest Calling")

1 comment:

RM said...

Welcome home and thank you Gus. Please, please forgive us. RM