Remembering Vietnam in Words and Pictures
We remember the Vietnam War era..."What was it all about, Alfie?" What was the Vietnam war about? The Vietnam War took over 58,000 American lives and 350,000 American casualties, leaving many hundreds of thousands of American men permanently damaged, in one way or another. The Vietnam War cost the American taxpayers over 2.5 billion dollars. The Vietnam War was not only the longest war in American history (1958-1975), it was the most UNPOPULAR war in American history. The Vietman War cost over 2 million Vietnamese deaths. Those people would have been so much better off had we not attempted to intervene.
And, for all that, war was never declared in Vietnam. All those men, drafted, sent to an extremely foreign country, to give up their lives or become permanently damaged, for what?
Back home people were burning draft cards, burning bras, chanting, "Hell, no, we won't go!"
Back home, people were saying that those "peacekeeping missions" were a joke--going in with guns and tanks to keep the peace was like fu**ing for chastity. The number of "Military Advisors" in Vietman escalated from 2000 in 1958 to 16,000 in 1963, and by 1965, we had ground forces numbering 536,000 American soldiers in Vietnam. We all SHOULD remember the Vietnam War, as an example of what NOT to do!
Part of the original purpose of the Vietnam war was to halt the spread of Communism. It was during the Cold War era, when this whole Vietnam thing began. Vietnam was divided between an anti-Communist South and a Communist North, and we, the United States of America, were obviously on the side of the anti-Communist South. We were competing heavily with the Soviet Union, in the space race, and in armaments and nuclear weapons. Each side was afraid of the other side's tendency towards aggressive domination of countries outside their immediate domain. Each side was also afraid of the escalation of the cold war into a hot war: World War III. Neither side wanted a nuclear war; both sides realized what a disaster a nuclear war could be, world-wide, and that the fallout could render the entire planet uninhabitable for most kinds of life and most certainly for human life.
The Soviet's domination of foreign territories was primarily military; the American domination of foreign territories was primarily economic.
Was the Vietnam war an enormous blunder into the limits of conventional warfare in jungle terrain? Was the Vietnam war a terrible crime committed by power-hungry leaders with no real cause to interfere in a country that eventually resolved its own issues, after the fall of Saigon in April 1975 and the withdrawal of American troops altogether, and ended up unified under a Communist regime?
Or was it a noble, heroic attempt to protect the South Vietnamese from a totalitarian government, like Russia's?
I feel the Vietnam war was a big mistake on the part of the American government.
I feel for the Vietnam veterans that returned from that war to face re-entry into an American society that didn't seem to appreciate them, in the least. There were no parades for the returning heroes of the Vietnam war.
And who knows what those people had seen, what they went through, what that awful guerrilla war was like? Who knows what it was like to be in the field, out in the jungle with Charlie hiding behind every bush and hidden trip wires for grenades on the ground and pungee sticks taking off the legs of your comrades in arms, and know, in the back of your mind, that your side is losing but just won't admit it; just keeps sending more troops and tanks and helicopters and sprays Agent Orange all over the place; in the meantime, the American body count is rising and the American casualties are coming back home in pieces, either mentally or physically broken, often beyond repair.
I have one thing to say to you, soldier:
GOD BLESS YOU, SOLDIER
LET'S NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
NOT anywhere, not in Iraq, Iran, the Middle East, Afghanistan, not anywhere.
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