July marks the 50th anniversary of the United States involvement with the Vietnam War.
This past week, I’ve been cleaning out my garage. The lovely task of purging random things that for some reason you’ve been emotionally attached to. I had put off cleaning out a section of 5 boxes of “memories” that I had moved from my parent’s house. There was the box of sewing notions that were my grandmother’s. There was the tub of childhood classics that I’m sure I’m thinking my children will want to read someday (I’m going to try to share those with friends who already have kids and are already loving to read). And, there was the paper box full of documents and papers from high school and college. Intellectual property that I had birthed upon assignment. But things I was none the less still proud of.
Knowing that this year Independence Day will hold a special meaning for many, I was particularly interested when I found a project I did in 10th grade. I weirdly remember so much about it. I had to interview a Vietnam Veteran, create a creative visual depiction of my research and write a creative narrative based on what I learned. Lucky for me, there was a well know veteran in my church and while I knew from every Salute to the Armed Forces we had ever done, that he was a veteran, I had no idea what the real story was from his days fighting for our freedom.
I appreciate his candor with me. His transparency the 10th grade version of myself to stop and listen and learn. Much to grasp about those days and that conflict. I honor his life and the life of those who fought by sharing my “recollection” from my interview with him and the paper I turned in 17 years ago.
Looking back I wonder why I was there.
The President got us into a state that we were unable to drag ourselves out of.
Was Johnson out of his mind when he sent us over there?
We were there fighting the power struggle of the United States and they did nothing but turn us away when we returned home.
The only thing I can say is that we were there to accomplish was masterminding the world.
Once again we had to let them know that we wanted to be in charge.
We could have won it, but that is not what we were there to do.
POWER, that is all we wanted.
The whole time I was there I was ready to return home.
My feet hurt, my clothes were wet, and it had been a long time since I had a home-cooked meal.
Was it my fault that I fit into the age of drafting and had to be put in this situation?
We should not have been there anyway.
This little thing called a “conflict” caused more problems that any confrontation I had ever encountered.
The ground fighting was hard and I was not equipped to do that.
Their fighting techniques were so different than ours were; nothing could have equipped us for that.
The people hid and therefore our air was not successful.
It gives me chills to thing of the Ho Chi Minh trail and all of the things that traveled that path.
What were we thinking?
When I came home no one cared.
Yeah, mom was glad to have her little boy back, but that’s all.
I had just spent time in a foreign country defending the United States and when I got home her inhabitants were ungrateful.
I was expected to come home and continue life totally ignoring what had happened to me.
How is a person who sees blood, his buddies shot, and children with bombs on their backs supposed to just forget it all?
These people just don’t make sense to me.
Thank goodness I didn’t get involved with the drugs and women, because that would have made it worse.
Jane Fonda was a flake and did nothing but destruction for people like us.
I hope you didn’t get involved with marijuana like the rest.
I am sorry if you did.
Standing here just really made me think about those days.
The things we had to go through.
The people we had to see and meet.
I still don’t get it.
I leave you these words thanking you for the days gone by and the experience that I had in my life.
I don’t know who you are.
Heck, I don’t know who I am, but thanks for what you did.
I don’t know if you ever got to hear that, but thanks.