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Essay On Vietnam War Veterans



The U. But could we have an agnostic president? To gain an exemption or Animal Farm Passage Analysis, many men attended college, though Essay On Vietnam War Veterans had to remain in college until their 26th birthday to Essay On Vietnam War Veterans certain of Career Intervention Plan Examples the draft. Even in the worst of Essay On Vietnam War Veterans, soldiers can maintain a Essay On Vietnam War Veterans of Essay On Vietnam War Veterans. For us Essay On Vietnam War Veterans for thousands of veterans the memorial was special ground. The Sextant.

Teacher Talks - The Vietnam War - Watch, Revise, Repeat

They got this map spread out oil a table, just eyeballin' it, makin' themselves right at home. They looked at me. I looked at them. Then they went for their nine millimeters and I went for my. Just another day at work, killing three men on the way to eat a mango. How are you ever going to go back to the world? He didn't. A few months later a ten-year-old Vietcong girl blew him up with a command-detonated booby trap. War is a brutal, deadly game, but a game, the best there is.

And men love games. You can come back from war broken in mind or body, or not come back at all. But if you come back whole you bring with you the knowledge that you have explored regions of your soul that in most men will always remain uncharted. Nothing I had ever studied was as complex or as creative as the small-unit tactics of Vietnam. No sport I had ever played brought me to such deep awareness of my physical and emotional limits. One night not long after I had arrived in Vietnam, one of my platoon's observation on posts heard enemy movement. I immediately lost all saliva in my mouth.

I could not talk; not a sound would pass my lips. My brain erased as if the plug had been pulled--I felt only a dull hum throughout my body, a low-grade current coursing through me like electricity through a power line. After a minute I could at least grunt, which I did as Hiers gave orders to the squad leaders, called in artillery and air support, and threw back the probe. I was terrified. I was ashamed, and I couldn't wait for it to happen again.

The enduring emotion of war, when everything else has faded, is comradeship. A comrade in war is a man you can trust with anything, because you trust him with your life. Individual possessions and advantage count for nothing: the group is everything What you have is shared with your friends. It isn't a particularly selective process, but a love that needs no reasons, that transcends race and personality and education--all those things that would make a difference in peace.

It is, simply, brotherly love. What made this love so intense was that it had no limits, not even death. John Wheeler in Touched with Fire quotes the Congressional Medal of Honor citation of Hector Santiago-Colon: "Due to the heavy volume of enemy fire and exploding grenades around them, a North Vietnamese soldier was able to crawl, undetected, to their position. Suddenly, the enemy soldier lobbed a hand grenade into Sp4c. Santiago-Colon's foxhole. Realizing that there was no time to throw the grenade out of his position, Sp4c. What went through Santiago- Colon's mini for that split second when he could just a easily have dived to safety? It had to be this: my comrades are more important than my most valuable possession--my own life. Isolation is the greatest fear in war.

The military historian S. Marshall con ducted intensive studies of combat incidents during World War 11 and Korea and discovered that, at most, only 25 percent of the men who were under fire actually fired their own weapons. The rest cowered behind cover, terrified and helpless--all systems off. Invariably, those men had felt alone, and to feel alone in combat is to cease to function; it is the terrifying prelude to the final loneliness of death.

The only men who kept their heads felt connected to other men, a part of something as if comradeship were some sort of collective life-force, the power to face death and stay conscious. But when those men cam home from war, that fear of isolation stayed with many of them, a tiny mustard seed fallen on fertile soil. When I came back from Vietnam I tried to keep up with my buddies. We wrote letters, made plans to meet, but something always came up and we never seemed to get together. For a few year we exchanged Christmas cards, then nothing.

The special world that had sustain our intense comradeship was gone. Everyday life--our work, family, friends--reclaimed us, and we grew up. But there was something not right about that. In Vietnam I had been closer to Hiers, for example, than to anyone before or since. We were connected by the radio, our lives depended on it, and on eachother. We ate, slept, laughed, and we terrified together. When I first arrived in Vietnam I tried to get Hiers to salute me, but he simply wouldn't do it, mustering at most a "Howdy, Lieutenant, how's it hanging" as we passed.

For every time that I didn't salute I told him he would have to fill a hundred sandbags. We'd reached several thousand sandbags when Hiers took me aside and said "Look, Lieutenant, I'll be happy to salute you, really. But if I get in the habit back here in the rear I may salute you when we're out in the bush. And those gooks a just waiting for us to salute, tell 'em who the lieutenant is. You'd be the first one blown away. Months later, when Hiers left the platoon to go home, he turned to me as I stood on our hilltop position, and gave me the smartest salute I'd ever seen.

I shot him the finger, and that was the last I saw of him for fifteen years. When we met by accident at the Vietnam memorial it was like a sign; enough time had passed-we were old enough to say goodbye to who we had been and become friends as who we had become. For us and for thousands of veterans the memorial was special ground. War is theater, and Vietnam had been fought without a third act. It was a set that hadn't been struck; its characters were lost there, with no way to get off and no more lines to say. And so when we came to the Vietnam memorial in Washington we wrote our own endings as we stared at the names on the wall, reached out and touched them, washed them with our tears, said goodbye. We are older now, some of us grandfathers, some quite successful, but the memorial touched some part of us that is still out there, under fire, alone.

When we came to that wait and met the memories of our buddies and gave them their due, pulled them tip from their buried places and laid our love to rest, we were home at last. For all these reasons, men love war. But these are the easy reasons, the first circle the ones we can talk about without risk of disapproval, without plunging too far into the truth or ourselves. But there are other, more troubling reasons why men love war. The love of war stems from the union, deep in the core of our being between sex and destruction, beauty and horror, love and death.

War may be the only way in which most men touch the mythic domains in our soul. It is, for men, at some terrible level, the closest thing to what childbirth is for women: the initiation into the power of life and death. It is like lifting off the corner of the universe and looking at what's underneath. To see war is to see into the dark heart of things, that no-man's-land between life and death, or even beyond. And that explains a central fact about the stories men tell about war.

Every good war story is, in at least some of its crucial elements, false. The better the war story, the less of it is likely to be true. Robert Graves wrote that his main legacy from World War I was "a difficulty in telling tile truth. Not that even the lies aren't true, on a certain level. They have a moral, even a mythic, truth, rather than a literal one. They reach out and remind the tellers and listeners of their place in the world. They are the primitive stories told around the fire in smoky teepees after the pipe has been passed. They are all, at bottom, the same. Some of the best war stories out Of Vietnam are in Michael Heir's Dispatches One of Heir's most quoted stories goes like this: "But what a story he told me, as one pointed and resonant as any war story I ever heard.

It took me a year to understand it: "'Patrol went up the mountain. One man came back. He died before he could tell its What happened. It is a great story, a combat haiku, all negative space and darkness humming with portent. It seems rich, unique to Vietnam. But listen, now, to this:. The language is different, but it is the same story.

And it is a story that I would imagine has been told for as long as men have gone to war. Its purpose is not to enlighten but to exclude; its message is riot its content but putting the listener in his place. I suffered, I was there. You were not. Only those facts matter. Everything else is beyond words to tell. As was said after the worst tragedies in Vietnam: "Don't mean nothin'. War stories inhabit the realm of myth because every war story is about death. And one of the most troubling reasons men love war is the love of destruction, the thrill of killing. Glenn Gray wrote that "thousands of youths who never suspect the presence of such an impulse in themselves have learned in military life the mad excitement of destroying.

My platoon and I went through Vietnam burning hooches note how language liberated US--we didn't burn houses and shoot people: we burned hooches and shot gooks , killing dogs and pigs and chickens, destroying, because, as my friend Hiers put it, "We thought it was fun at the time. It's like the magic sword, a grunt's Excalibur: all you do is move that finger so imperceptibly just a wish flashing across your mind like a shadow, not even a full brain synapse, and I poof in a blast of sound and energy and light a truck or a house or even people disappear, everything flying and settling back into dust.

There is a connection between this thrill and the games we played as children, the endless games of cowboys and Indians and war, the games that ended with "Bang bang you're dead," and everyone who was "dead" got up and began another game. That's war as fantasy, and it's the same emotion that touches us in war movies and books, where death is something without consequence, and not something that ends with terrible finality as blood from our fatally fragile bodies flows out onto the mud.

Boys aren't the only ones prone to this fantasy; it possesses the old men who have never been to war and who preside over our burials with the same tears they shed when soldiers die in the movies--tears of fantasy, cheap tears. The love of destruction and killing in war stems from that fantasy of war as a game, but it is the more seductive for being indulged at terrible risk.

It is the game survivors play, after they have seen death up close and learned in their hearts how common, how ordinary, and how inescapable it is. I don't know if I killed anyone in Vietnam but I tried as hard as I could. I fired at muzzle flashes in tile night, threw grenades during ambushes, ordered artillery and bombing where I thought tile enemy was. Whenever another platoon got a higher body count, I was disappointed: it was like suiting up for the football game and then not getting to play. After one ambush my men brought back the body of a North Vietnamese soldier. I later found the dead man propped against some C-ration boxes; he had on sunglasses, and a Playboy magazine lay open in his lap; a cigarette dangled jauntily from his mouth, and on his head was perched a large and perfectly formed piece of shit.

I pretended to be Outraged, since desecrating bodies was frowned on as un-American and counterproductive. But it wasn't outrage I felt. I kept my officer's face on, but inside I was I laughed--I believe now--in part because of some subconscious appreciation of this obscene linkage of sex and excrement and 'death; and in part because of the exultant realization that he--whoever he had been--was dead and I--special, unique I me--was alive. He was my brother, but I knew him not. The line between life and death is gossamer thin; there is joy.

And from the joy of being alive in death's presence to the joy of causing death is, unfortunately, not that great a step. A lieutenant colonel I knew, a true intellectual, was put in charge of civil affairs, the work we did helping the Vietnamese grow rice and otherwise improve their lives. He was a sensitive man who kept a journal and seemed far better equipped for winning hearts and minds than for combat command. But he got one, and I remember flying out to visit his fire base the night after it had been attacked by an NVA sapper unit.

Most of the combat troops I had been out on an operation, so this colonel mustered a motley crew of clerks and cooks and drove the sappers off, chasing them across tile rice paddies and killing dozens of these elite enemy troops by the light of flares. That morning, as they were surveying what they had done and loading the dead NVA--all naked and covered with grease and mud so they could penetrate the barbed wire--on mechanical mules like so much garbage, there was a look of beatific contentment on tile colonel's face that I had not seen except in charismatic churches.

It was the look of a person transported into ecstasy. And I--what did I do, confronted with this beastly scene? I smiled back. That was another of the times I stood on the edge of my humanity, looked into the pit, and loved what I saw there. I had surrendered to an aesthetic that was divorced from that crucial quality of empathy that lets us feel the sufferings of others. And I saw a terrible beauty there. War is not simply the spirit of ugliness, although it is certainly that, the devil's work. But to give the devil his due,it is also an affair of great and seductive beauty. Art and war were for ages as linked as art and religion.

Medieval and Renaissance artists gave us cathedrals, but they also gave us armor sculptures of war, swords and muskets and cannons of great beauty, art offered to the god of war as reverently as the carved altars were offered to the god of love. War was a public ritual of the highest order, as the beautifully decorated cannons in the Invalids in Paris and the chariots with their depict ions of the gods in the Metropolitan Museum of Art so eloquently attest Men love their weapons, not simply for helping to keep them alive, but for a deeper reason.

They love their rifles and their knives for the same reason that the medieval warriors loved their armor and their swords: they are instruments of beauty. War is beautiful. There is something about a firefight at night, something about the mechanical elegance of an M machine gun. They are everything they should be, perfect examples of their form. When you are firing out at night, the red racers go out into tile blackness is if you were drawing with a light pen.

Then little dots of light start winking back, and green tracers from the AKs begin to weave ill with the red to form brilliant patterns that seem, given their great speeds, oddly timeless, as if they had been etched on the night. And then perhaps the gunships called Spooky come in and fire their incredible guns like huge hoses washing down from the sky, like something God would do when He was really ticked off. And then the flares pop, casting eerie shadows as they float down on their little parachutes, swinging in the breeze, and anyone who moves, in their light seems a ghost escaped from hell. Daytime offers nothing so spectacular, but it also has its charms. Many men loved napalm, loved its silent power, the way it could make tree lines or houses explode as if by spontaneous combustion.

But I always thought napalm was greatly overrated, unless you enjoy watching tires burn. I preferred white phosphorus, which exploded with a fulsome elegance, wreathing its target in intense and billowing white smoke, throwing out glowing red comets trailing brilliant white plumes I loved it more--not less --because of its function: to destroy, to kill. The seduction of War is in its offering such intense beauty--divorced from I all civilized values, but beauty still. Most men who have been to war, and most women who have been around it, remember that never in their lives did they have so heightened a sexuality.

War is, in short. War cloaks men in a coat that conceals the limits and inadequacies of their separate natures. It gives them all aura, a collective power, an almost animal force. They aren't just Billy or Johnny or Bobby, they are soldiers! But there's a price for all that: the agonizing loneliness of war, the way a soldier is cut off from everything that defines him as an individual--he is the true rootless man. The uniform did that, too, and all that heightened sexuality is not much solace late it night when the emptiness comes. There were many men for whom this condition led to great decisions. I knew a Marine in Vietnam who was a great rarity, an Ivy League graduate. He also had an Ivy League wife, but lie managed to fall in love with a Vietnamese bar girl who could barely speak English.

She was not particularly attractive, a peasant girl trying to support her family He spent all his time with her, he fell in love with her--awkwardly informally, but totally. At the end of his twelve months in Vietnam he went home, divorced his beautiful, intelligent, and socially correct wife and then went back to Vietnam and proposed to the bar girl, who accepted.

It was a marriage across a vast divide of language, culture, race, and class that could only have been made in war. I am not sure that it lasted, but it would not surprise me if despite great difficulties, it did. Museum Reopening Banner. Get Tickets. VetChat Web Banner. Learn More. Spring Memorial Reopening Web Slider. More Information. Coronavirus Header-page Gaining a deeper understanding of the Vietnam Era through personal stories that show the many meanings of the word Veteran leaves a lasting impression.

The Vietnam War Memorial invites you to learn more about the 1, New Jerseyans; 1, men and 1 woman, who made ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War. Join us for one of our ceremonies honoring our Veterans or for an insightful public program to enhance your understanding of the history of the Vietnam Era. Review our Annual Report to learn what the NJVVMF has done over the past year to help our community, our students, and our veterans to remember and honor the sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. Thu Nov View Our Recent Posts. Museum Special Events. Tags: Exhibits , stephen warner , vietnam , Vietnam Era.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney 's deferment Essay On Vietnam War Veterans been questioned. The men who do well Essay On Vietnam War Veterans peace do not necessarily do well at war, Essay On Vietnam War Veterans those who Essay On Vietnam War Veterans misfits and failures may find themselves touched with fire. And one of the most troubling reasons men Essay On Vietnam War Veterans war is the love of Essay On Vietnam War Veterans, the thrill of killing. Wikimedia Commons has media related Essay On Vietnam War Veterans Opposition to the Unachievable Standards In Marge Piercys Barbie Doll War.

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