I believe that we shouldn’t forget all those soldiers who lost their limbs and even their lives in wars our country convinced them were worth fighting but that later turned out not be be so. I’m a veteran of the Viet Nam war, and I know so many of my fellow soldiers who came back, traumatized and scarred, only to find hatred for what they’d done over there.
It’s not the fault of the soldier when history determines that this or that war was justified or not: the soldier assumes his leaders know best and wouldn’t send him into harm’s way without good reason. But history shows, over and over again, that our leaders shamelessly take our best and brightest into wars that should never should have been fought, for the most selfish of reasons. As young men, we sign up, or get drafted, because our leaders preach to us that we’re defending our country and all it stands for. It’s only later that we find out that we were stooges, set up for failure, because our country, our government, our President, didn’t commit everything to winning that particular war. Every war our nation has fought since World War Two is the same: throw our young people into it, get them killed, and then back off. Yes, we got a least a draw in Korea, which exists to this day. And yes, we drove Iraqis out of Kuwait, but we know the consequences of that: we’ve lost 4000 of our young people in a subsequent war that didn’t need to be fought. I know that none of us likes to think that we’ve sacrificed our youth in vain, but that’s what we did in Viet Nam, and no one has ever stepped forward later to say “I’m sorry.” I would like some recognition of the 58,000 young men — my age, hoping to go back home and to college –who lost their lives in Viet Nam in what they thought, mistakenly, to be a noble cause. Shame on our nation for not just not
acknowleding their supreme sacrifice but for sweeping it under the rug of history. This I believe: Let’s honor our soldiers, even if their war wasn’t won. They did their best and gave their all. They deserve our thanks for that sacrifice, even if it was in a lost cause. I know because I was there that they were brave, even in the face of death, and it wasn’t their fault if they had to die in a war we didn’t win.
They are heroes, and I think we should salute and remember them, every one.
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