Some Cannot Forget


Some Cannot Forget Essay, Research Paper

The Vietnam War Purpose: To illustrate my view on the Vietnam War. Audience: Anyone with an interest in the Vietnam War. Some Can’t Forget I awaken and bolt upright in bed, my heart racing and sweat beginning to bead on my forehead. My chest heaving with ragged breaths, I try to figure out what startled me out of sleep. Then I hear it: The terrified scream of my father piercing through the eerie silence. My heart skips a beat and I shuffle my feet under the covers, letting them fall off the bed and land on the carpet. I start to push myself up, but then hear my mom’s voice slowly drift down the hall as she tries to awaken and comfort my father. "It’s okay. You’re home. You’re okay. It’s over." A sigh escapes my lips and I lay back in bed, pull the covers to my neck, and desperately hope to fall back asleep. Another nightmare of the Vietnam War. I could never in my wildest dreams even begin to imagine having to experience something with such controversy and horror. But my father was there and it is still with him today, almost thirty years later. As most people know, there was an extreme amount of debate over the Vietnam War. There were protesters in the streets and marching on the White House lawn, preaching about peace and civil rights. Young men were fleeing to Canada to escape the draft, while others freely volunteered to join the service. Even though the war was in Vietnam, the fighting spirit could be found all over in the cities of the United States. I understand the opposition to the war, because technically it wasn’t even our fight. It was, after all, within the country of Vietnam. But the reason we intervened was because the South Vietnamese government asked us to fight the communism that was trying to take them over. While most people knew this, I don’t think they fully understood it or even cared. All they knew was that people they loved were being sent off to a foreign country to die. One thing that I really don’t understand is the way that the Vietnam veterans were treated after they returned home. These soldiers were fighting for our country, doing their duty to serve and protect. They were not the ones who started the war, so why should they be blamed for it? Most of those soldiers did not have a choice in the matter. Either they were already in the service, or their character prevented them from dodging the draft. Regardless of whether they volunteered to fight the war or not, they should never have received such treatment. Instead of being praised for serving their country, they were yelled at, beaten, and disgraced to the point where they had to remove their uniform just to be able to walk down the street in peace. The veterans were already going through enough trying to get over the horrible experience and they did not need to come home to that kind of demonstration. Unfortunately, our soldiers were given a very bad reputation by the press. Countless articles talked about civilians and children being killed by the "merciless and relentless soldiers." One point is that Vietnamese people look younger than they really are. A twenty-year-old man would look like a twelve-year-old kid based on the American experience. So when the pictures came back with a bunch of dead Vietnamese soldiers that looked like kids, it got out of hand and our troops got labeled as baby killers. Another point that a lot of people don’t know is that civilians and children were killed, but it was in self-defense. I know this only because my father was there. I have heard the countless stories about children being trained to use hand grenades, cribs being booby trapped with the babies still in them, and a mother running with her child as a shield while she fires her gun at an American soldier. So it wasn’t that our soldiers were just going on a mad craze, shooting and killing everything in sight. They did what they had to do to survive. And if it was shooting a three-year-old child because he was walking towards you with a live grenade ready to explode the moment he tries to hand it to you, then it was done to survive. My father being a vet, you can imagine the stories I’ve heard about what he went through during that time. Most of what he told me was mild to protect me, and even that was horrific beyond belief. Stories of torture and disease were tossed towards me like stories at a family reunion. To imagine living with the memories and nightmares of something so incredibly frightening and foreign sends my mind reeling. That war will be with those people for the rest of their lives. They will always be looking over there shoulder for that shadowy figure, dropping to the ground at the sonic boom, running for cover at every helicopter blade, and awakening to their screams from yet another nightmare. Although the rest of the country has moved on and other presidents have been elected, the memory will remain with the soldiers forever. Although the veterans are the ones who directly have to deal with being in the war, they are not the only ones who were dramatically effected by it. Trying to live with the effects of the war is a constant battle in itself. There are countless numbers of families and friends who will always mourn the loss of a son, brother, or best friend. For them it was not just a matter of picking up the pieces and moving on. They can’t just write it off as another event in history; they have to wake up every morning knowing that the person they lost will never come home. They will never see that smile, or hear that voice, or see the sparkle in their eyes again. All they can do is keep a picture displayed, in hopes of keeping the memory of that person alive and fresh. Hearing the politics of the war and whether it was right or wrong has become tiring and bothersome. All that matters is that someone was lost and can never be replaced. There are also the families, like mine, that have to live with a veteran. We share the stories and the nightmares, the flashbacks and the health problems. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with the war, it shows up in my life constantly with every doctor’s appointment or sleepless night. Although I’ve heard the stories, read the books, and seen the pictures, I will never really know what the Vietnam War was like. The only people who truly know are those that were there. People will always have different opinions and views on the war, and there will always be debates and arguments about it being or not being a lost cause. But through all this chaos we need to remember the people that are truly effected by this war. They are the families and friends who are still dealing with a loss and the veterans who live with the reality every day. And although the war ended and they got to leave, the war will never leave them.

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