Many called it the war that shouldn’t be, but it was a war just the same and it divided this country like no war ever had. Far too many of our soldiers never made it home. Those who did have tales to tell. One such soldier recently spoke to me about his experiences in Vietnam and beyond. He had been in the Navy for twenty-two years, climbed to the rank of Chief in less than eleven years, and among other things, is now a retired classified weapons expert. The short version: he built the bombs that rained down on Vietnamese jungles and then some.
I asked him about the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident. The theory on countless YouTube channels is that this attack was a false flag, that the Tonkin Gulf Resolution was drafted before the attack happened, that there were no Vietnamese torpedo boats. How did the Chief feel about this? He scoffed,
No one spends that much money and effort just to fake something; but it wasn’t the Vietnamese…
The Chief told me that the Chinese had been in North Vietnam causing trouble. He stated unequivocally that it was they who sent two planes after US ships. I had never heard that, but one does not argue with the Chief.
We moved on to current affairs. Antifa? Social Justice Warriors? Black Lives Matter? His response:
This country was built on fundamental concepts. If you disagree with those concepts, you should find somewhere else to live. Every bleeding heart liberal needs to go to a foreign country and experience a police state. They’d change their minds.
What about the very touchy issue of Muslim immigration? His answer was so simple and so direct, a liberal’s head might spin,
No one should be allowed into this country whose people have openly expressed the desire to kill us and our way of life.
Yes, it is that simple. Still, here were are, divided again, forty-two years after Vietnam’s official end and we are still screaming at each other. We treated our troops poorly when they got home, as if they wanted to be shipped off to a foreign jungle only to crawl through the mud and blood while getting shot at and watching their friends blown to bits. This was around the time our so-called journalists started playing people against each other, initially the working class and the hippies. They conveniently forgot the government’s role. Average Americans were spitting on each other. And why?
The why of it all is hard to nail down. Whatever the case, war is a money making racket reserved for the elite few who invest in it. And you had better believe those who risk their cash are not risking their lives. To blame some poor kid who could not avoid the draft rather than blaming the corrupt system that sent him to war is to miss the point entirely. I am willing to bet the average soldier did not want the war any more than the average hippie did.
As for the Chief, he was not drafted. He was sworn in on his eighteenth birthday, in 1969, and was sent to those murky Vietnamese waters in 1970. He was there for roughly three years. We can learn more from him than from any textbook and he is not the only one with tales to tell. Listen to our veterans and our elders. Tell their stories; for this is how history comes to life and carries on.