Tag Archives: vietnam war

“Daddy, What Did You Do During The Vietnam War?”

The war in Vietnam ended about forty years ago, but the pain of a war in which few understood the reasons for fighting let alone who were our allies or enemies, lingers on. Senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal is under fire because he gave the impression in his description of service during teh Vietnam war that he actually was under fire. Perhaps, if one defines spending time in Washington D.C. dealing with political matters, one could argue they were under enemy fire. The latest example of mouths that run over with patriotic slop comes from Representative Gary Miller of California who has described himself as serving during the Vietnam War. In truth, he did enter the Army, but was honorably discharged after several weeks of service because he had ulcers and a wife and child. However, when asked to recollect his army service, the Republican Congressman wrote: “the leadership skills which I experienced in the U.S. Army allow me to take the lead on issues which promote a stronger defense.” As I recall my sixteen weeks of basic training, the only “leadership skills” I learned was how to dodge KP.

The war in Vietnam is long time gone. The debates about whether it was moral or immoral to serve in a war that was conducted in all too frequent ventures into immorality, exist in the realm of minds or in graves of the silent. The man who went to Canada to escape the draft has a right to yell “patriot” just as does the poor character who lacked connections to get him a soft tour of duty.

I await the Vietnam exploits of Dick Cheney, who got several draft deferments and when asked why he did not serve, argued he had better and more important things to do. I guess he could write a book about how to dodge the draft and live to tell about it.

US Soldiers Deploy To Canada, Not Iraq!

During the Vietnam War a draft faced just about all young men(unless they escaped to college) with the prospect of serving in combat overseas. As a result, thousands decided to serve in Canada and escape death or being wounded. Current American soldiers face the prospect of once again for the third or fourth time being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq. Patrick Hart, an Army sergeant for ten years, served in Iraq, but when orders came to go once again into the madness of that battle zone, he decided to head for Canada. “I’ve bled for my country, I’ve sweated for my country I’ve cried myself to sleep for my country–which is a lot more than some people who are passing judgment on me have done.” He has decided, “I would rather sit in prison than go to Iraq.”

Ironically, those who flee are discovering a welcome from Americans who fled during the sixties. Charlie Diamond who fled America in 1968 is offering assistance to modern Americans who are sick and tired of a war most Americans have absolutely no interest in fighting. “I want once again my country to be a refuge from militarism.” As Diamond notes, today’s “deserters” enlisted “in good conscience thinking they were defending America when in fact the whole thing was a lie.”

It is estimated about 50,000 Americans fled to Canada during the Vietnam War and about half still remain in the country. Of course, today, the issue is –exactly who is the
“deserter?” The man who fled or men like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Congressmen who abandoned American values by lying to the nation?

An Apology Too Late

In the midst of the Vietnam War, a patrol under the leadership of Lt. William Calley, entered a village and when they left dozens of innocent villagers were dead including men, women, and children. The event shocked America and there was a court martial. Lt. Calley insisted superiors were convinced there were enemy forces in the village and he took actions that he believed protected his men. He admitted there were two US casualties and none do to enemy fire.

Today, at age 66, Calley told members of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columus in Georgia, “there is not a day that goes by that I o not feel remorse for what happened that day. “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.” It is confusing why he should feel sorry for the US troops since none died.

Wouldn’t it be appropriate if President Obama allowed those who are responsible for the death of thousands of Americans in Iraq to come forward and admit their responsibility? Or, do they have to wait a half century?