27. September 2004 · Comments Off on It all looks different now · Categories: General

When I was in high school, I remember reading a letter to the editor in my hometown paper written by a woman whose brother had just died from cancer. He had fought in Vietnam and was exposed to Agent Orange. Around the same time, John Ritter starred in a movie about a Vietnam Vet/teacher who had been exposed to Agent Orange and later died from cancer. I was 16 or 17, and full of idealism, although I thought Ronald Reagan was the man. During my junior and senior years I did a couple of reports on the Vietnam that were very critical of the government’s involvement in Vietnam. I became quite anti-Vietnam.

So here I am now, double the age I was then, a veteran, and keeping up with current events which I didn’t bother with as a teenager. Just in the past 5 years or so I learned that we never lost a major military battle against the North Vietnamese. I hear John Kerry boast about his 4 months in Vietnam. Then I hear about his post-war testimony and anti-war activities. Then the Swift Boat Vets come out against him. I am starting to look at Vietnam again in a different light.

When I went through ALS, they gave us General Robbie Risner’s book, The Passing of the Night. It was encouraged reading, but not required. A few of my classmates read it during those weeks, and said it was great, so I resolved to read it someday. I finally read it over this past weekend. I’m not so anti-Vietnam anymore. Abu Gharib was a pajama party compared to the Hanoi Hilton. I think again about John Kerry’s 1971 claims of war crimes being committed by US soldiers. It sounded just like what the North Vietnamese were torturing the US POW’s into “confessing.”

We were not the bad guys in Vietnam. We’re not the bad guys now either.

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