It is one thing to believe in sacrifices, it is quite another to live with them. In the sixties, we didn’t get that and when guys came home from the Vietnam War, we ignored them or yelled at them. We wanted to make them feel ashamed for fighting what we perceived as an illegal war. It was illegal, but that wasn’t the fault of the soldiers or us, the government will forever carry the responsibility. It took me and many others a long time to get it.
My ah-ha moment was on a date. He was a Vietnam veteran. He was the only military person I ever dated. We were watching China Beach. I always watched China Beach. He asked me if I would let him tell me about his experience in Vietnam. No, was what I wanted to say, But, something made me say Ok. Not enthusiastic, but I committed myself and I sat and listened. I will not repeat his experiences out of respect for him. Three hours, many tears and a bit of shock later I wished I didn’t know. He had never told his story before but it was his truth. It was not a pretty story, but it was reality and I suddenly realized that not supporting the veterans accomplished nothing. The government was the villain and we had missed the point.
I have been to the Vietnam War Memorial erected in Washington, D.C. I ran my finger tips over the thousands of names etched into the stone. There were memorials and small tokens everywhere. A mom was holding a little boy who was touching a name and she was talking, I assume, about that soldier.
The Iraqi war was illegal. He lied to America and took advantage of the fear that spread through America after we were attacked on 9-11. There were no weapons of mass destruction and we sent so many of our youth to fight in Iraq. One young man was close to me and he was injured. The Army couldn’t actually find him for awhile. He was in Germany and he was having his hand treated.
Now, I look around at the severity of injuries that our young men and women have suffered and I am sickened. Why do we always resort to violence and war? We don’t need to. We need to show compassion, acceptance, gratitude, love, kindness. War never fixes anything. It just increases the level of violence. This violence is causing severe head injuries, the loss of arms and / or legs. The loss of dreams and abilities. Severe mental issues such as PTSD and many other mental problems.
Wounded Warrior Project and the other groups working to assist veterans and their families are doing important work. So today is Veteran’s Day and I want to say thank you to all vets, male and female. Though I continue to wish that there would be an end to war, thank you for what you have given to America and those of us who live here. Your bravery is an amazing thing to see.
Someday, I hope we will no longer need these terrible sacrifices on the part of our young people, our future. One day there will not be wars. Diplomacy will reign and calm, logical and rational thinking will replace greed and power hungry people.
So, veterans, Thank you for your sacrifices. I am sorry you had to sacrifice all that you did.
When I went to DC and saw the Viet Name Memorial Wall, it was like I was moving in slow motion. I couldn’t get down the hill fast enough. And, I sobbed. A man asked if I needed help and after I said “no,” he wanted to know if I had lost someone close to me in that war. I explained to him that it was my gender that saved me from being drafted and sent off to that war. Had I been born male, my name could be on that wall. My sobs were because the government called, and those men had no choice.
Your gender and mine. I remember eating dinner while watching the war play out on TV. Waiting for numbers were called. Holding your breath to see if someone you knew would go. Some did. So many never came back. Some took off for Canada. They didn’t believe in war. They also didn’t come home…until the amnesty. Before that the government considered them traitors. Hugs, Barbara
Barbara, I attended junior high with two guys who were drafted, deployed to Nam, and were killed in the war. Another guy I know came home with a drug addiction. Another had to be toilet trained all over again because in Nam, going off to use the bathroom was dangerous. As I think back, most of the guys in the same community around our age didn’t plan for their futures because any day, they expected their number would be called. I know of one guy who “accidentally” shot himself in the foot with a hunting rifle several days before he was to report for boot camp. How I wish there were no wars. (sigh)
Oh Xena, I couldn’t say it any better. Blessings, Barbara
I read so many books on the Vietnam war. My brother left a boy and came home a stranger I was scared of. He didn’t talk other then to gross us with stories of eating squirrels and snake. I watched the movies to try to understand what my brother experienced. He died in 1987 he had MS. All the guys that came back I think my brother saw the worst. War definitely doesn’t make sense.
May your brother RIP. I am sure he saw hell. We teach our young people to kill and then they come home and are expected to be spouses again and parents. Killing someone changes you and you are never the same person. Hugs, Barbara
Thank you for this wonderful post, Barbara! Yes, our posts and their sentiments certainly seemed as if we planned them together, don’t they? Thank you for reminding us to ensure those that serve this country do not feel as if they do so in vein and without our support. Hugs, Cher xo
It was a hard lesson for me to learn. But I did and I feel like I need to share it. Hugs, Barbara
And I am extremely grateful for your sharing, Barbara; thank you. You have such a kind heart, and by allowing others to learn along with you is a huge gift you share. Hugs, Cher xo
I’m glad you changed your mind about the Vietnam Veterans, Barbara. In Australia, they were also treated with disrespect. Great post!
Thank you. It was a hard lesson to learn but I have learned and I feel I have to share it. Hugs, Barbara
Barbara , what a revealing post about war and its horrendous aftermath . Like individuals , governments are also prone to grave errors , the calculations of opting for the strike option being one of those…Again , as individuals are diverse , so are countries ; there are big and small , strong and weak , good and bad ones . War is never a solution to iron out discord and differences . The strong , big , and good ones among the big and small , must group together and resolve outstanding issues through dialogue and civilized diplomacy….best wishes…raj
Lovely post Barbara to honor the veterans. Too much violence in the world and we just don’t need more wars that start from political ego or economic driven 😦 Thank you for lovely words.
As a teenager I lived through a vicious bush war in Africa, where as a family we went on to see my first husband badly injured and so many of our college friends and pour souls die. War tears at my very soul. Your post and eloquent words touched on this subject with great empathy Barbara. They said it in the sixties and it still holds true today…’Love and peace…’ we all need love and peace. Hugs Xx
Thank you so much for this. Unless you have been to war, lived with someone who has or listened to the memories of a warrior you can have no conception of the true sacrifices made. When someone dear to me came home from Vietnam and landed in Oakland Ca. He was spit on and called a baby killer. He said this treatment in his own country by his countrymen hurt more than all the agony of war he had passed through. This is an amazing article. I wish everyone could read it.
My Sincere Respect and Appreciation,