On days like today…
I reflect on that cold day in March when I first saw the Vietnam Veteran’s War Memorial. I had business in Northern Virginia and there had been a break in the action, so I boarded the Metro and rode it into DC. I didn’t know precisely where the memorial had been sited and I came up from the south (sort of the wrong direction) and it had snowed. I walked through about 3″ of snow wearing dress shoes, my suit, and an overcoat. I encountered the statue of the three soldiers first, as best I can recall. It was a long time ago.
The walkway that surrounds them today was covered by snow and there was no chain barrier. Then I saw the wall and the names. So many names. Almost endless names.
There were also other names involved in the conflict…enemy names, that didn’t make it into the mix. I realize that it’s politically incorrect to mention them on Memorial Day.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident, was a complex naval event in the Gulf of Tonkin, off the coast of Vietnam, that was presented to the U.S. Congress on August 5, 1964, as two unprovoked attacks by North Vietnamese torpedo boats on the destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy of the U.S. Seventh Fleet and that led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which allowed President Lyndon B. Johnson to greatly escalate U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War.
Today we know that there was no attack on US Naval ships on the night of July 30-31, 1964. It was a lie. And that lie was used as a predicate to expand the war.
What would those men and women who laid it all on the alter think if they’d known that? All those names.
And what would the families of those men and women who died? What would they say if they’d known THEN?
It does not diminish the sacrifice or the honor that we do them in the slightest, but it should give us pause when we somewhat blindly trust the government.
The Iraq War began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by the United States-led coalition which overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration based its rationale for the Iraq War on the claim that Iraq had a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program, and that Iraq posed a threat to the United States and its allies.
Some U.S. officials falsely accused Saddam of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda. In 2004, the 9/11 Commission said there was no evidence of an operational relationship between the Saddam Hussein regime and al-Qaeda.
No stockpiles of WMDs or an active WMD program were ever found in Iraq. Bush administration officials made numerous claims about a purported Saddam–al-Qaeda relationship and WMDs that were based on sketchy evidence, and which intelligence officials rejected.
Up to 1,033,000 Iraqis were killed during the first five years of the war.
I’m not saying that Saddam Hussein was a good man, but I can’t say that Jo/Ho, or China’s President Xi (the Biden Family paymaster) are good either. The point of the war was based on a pretext that people in the know at the time believed to be a lie.
There is often a disconnect between the loyalty, courage, and bravery of soldiers, sailors, and marines and those who sit at the National Command Authority level. It shouldn’t detract from this Memorial Day, but in my mind, it does.
The War to End All Wars
General Weygand, Admiral Wemyss and Marshall Foch after signing the armistice with Germany to mark the end of World War One. They were proud of themselves, full of hubris for humiliating Germany – sewing the seeds of the next World War.
The Things They Carried….
They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs,watches and dog tags,insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets,sterno, LRRP- rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks. They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and steel pots. They carried the M-16 assault rifle. They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine guns, the M-70 grenade launcher, M-14’s, CAR-15’s, Stoners, Swedish K’s, 66mm Laws, shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence.They carried C-4 plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU’s and largebombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive. They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworm, jungle rot and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots.
They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones – real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love: “Don’t mean nothin’! “They carried memories. For the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity. Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or wanted to, but couldn’t; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said “Dear God” and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die.They carried the traditions of the United States Military, and memories and images of those who served before them. They carried grief, terror, longing and their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear: the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment. They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it.They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment.They carried the weight of the world.
THEY CARRIED EACH OTHER.
Tim O’Brien was the author, or at least somebody who very liberally borrowed from his short story “The Things They Carried”.
As far as enemy names that it may or may not be politically correct to remember, I would feel remiss in not mentioning Patriots, the Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides by Christian G. Appy and further, downright derelict in my duties to not remember this guy here, whose name is not on The Wall, for reasons which I’m not altogether clear:
“Lest we forget”
When I visited the Vietnam War Memorial in DC with my wife and children I broke down. My brother was not up there, but had spent three years in Vietnam. He came back after his second time wounded, being in the Rangers, and had changed. He would not talk about his experience, but I did get a little about his time in Vietnam and he said he spent very little time there. He said just after arriving he was grabbed by the Rangers and spent the next three years in North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
He spent another three years in the Rangers before leaving the Army. He was never the same as before he went to war and was later murdered in Texas.
I saw the same sort of thing. It made me who I am. I don’t talk or write about PTSD but it’s there and some days it keeps me home. There is nothing good about it, with the possible exception that it makes you a better survivor, in a strange way. I’m sorry for your brother, and for ALL of the men like him who were shaped in harsh ways.
Words always try but never quite make the grade. However, I thank you for your service to this greatest country, and to all who served. When away from the noise it becomes obvious we are a grateful Nation to those who served…and especially to those who gave the full measure, may they rest in the presence of God…you are not forgotten. [h/t]
Tonight’s movie, “Taking Chance”…seems appropriate…tissues at the ready.
There are a lot of men out there who never really came home. They didn’t come home in a box or a bag, but they were sure as shit killed. Their memorial day (lower case) is not as clean as those who ended this life on a foreign field. Evil morons like Jo/Ho don’t understand that this nation produced a lot of them and that carrying their agenda forward, the notion of going door to door to collect firearms will yield disturbing results. They’ll run out of inner-city people very soon into their exercise and will have to look for willing dupes. Illegal aliens aren’t that stupid.
The details aren’t important, but I hired a couple of illegal alien workers to help a lady move. They got into the rig and saw the tomahawk and said, “machete”, nervous. I explained in Spanish that I wasn’t there to harm them. I wanted them to work and they’d be paid. They were respectful. They were cartel trained, as in, there are people you don’t play games with.
They worked, they were paid, I bought them lunch and they were dropped off. But they did keep an eye on that tomahawk in the rig, and the Kimber in the holster.
I trained with a guy, and we were not combat.
Heck, we were Air Force.
Yet he was killed because he was an American walking a street in Turkey I had walked frequently.
We were directed to not work in uniform. But the PKK knew who he was.
And I can’t remember his name. But I remember him.
I know a guy who was at the Marine Barracks in Lebanon. Not quite a survivor. He’s waiting for the day where the rest of his mind and body join what he lost that day.
Another, one of the nicest guys ever, would just… lock up and zone out and you could see him lost in his mind. Funny stories about exploding elephants aside, just his look when he was lost showed how much he never recovered from his experiences.
All gave some, indeed.
One of my work mates had been in Gulf War 1, and was called upon to help clean up the barracks that got hit with a Scud. He admitted he wasn’t the same after that, as he was “cleaning up” the remains of people he knew and worked with.
Yes, some Vets come home whole-in-body, but with a devestated spirit.
REAL Americans understand the sacrifice. Those “others” that you allude give no thought to the real and the good because they can never admit to themselves their inherent quisling mentality and the fact they are weak…if they did they’d fold like a cheap umbrella in a Wyoming breeze. They are poser blowhards working a grift to undermine. At some point the wind will change and they will be on the receiving end whether they realize it or not. They will lose.
I did not serve, but my father did…I understand the anger to some degree, and am royally peeved at the bums who can’t mention God and Country in a supposed MD speech. Righteous anger towards the evil-doers is not only acceptable, it is necessary.
Honorable men & women serving dishonorable politicians. All the WWII vets I grew up around didn’t talk about what they did/experienced. They did work hard at making things better for their families and neighbors. Examples that stay with you for life.
TIC question – libs used to say they would honor troops that shot their leaders. Now that the libs are in DC claiming to be the leaders, will they still adhere to that?
Most people who made it back lead quiet lives. A lot live in the area where I live, in the mountains. There’s a guy who lives about 9 miles from me, Army type, who did like 7 tours in Afghanistan. He now works for the county, supervising a road crew. Coiled spring, under tension. They are what their nation made. Best leave them alone.
Wonder what that guy in Belgium is up to, disappears and has the authorities so scared they conduct a massive hunt for him.
Who are you carrying?
I honestly don’t know how to reconcile everything in life. I manage to do what I can and hope that God will fill the gap that I can’t.
Our honored dead deserve a lot more than Jo/Ho and the monkeys in Congress.
You can’t reconcile everything in life. You’ll go crazy playing the What If game if you try. All you can do is try your best accept it, knowing you can’t go back and change things.
An awful lot of names. May they rest in peace.
Do you remember the Itasca monument? It took me aback.
The Itasca monument is shockingly sad. I’ll never forget it.
It’s a rare war that is politically clean. Civil control of the military brings with it the unfortunate baggage that politicians are almost universally loathsome scum. However, it seems to generally be a better circumstance than dictatorship, and it isn’t as though their wars are often politically clean, either.
Those who serve, whether they survive or not, deserve better than our political class – hell they deserve better than a big chunk of our citizenry. I don’t have the vaguest idea of how to make it better.
I guess my best advice (not that I’m qualified) is for them to just focus on the tactical, and take pride that they’re putting the fear of God into the Bad Guys.
All who serve get my gratitude and respect, FWIW.
All true. Thank you for sharing that. Absent Comrades!
I was watching The Green Berets yesterday, with (among others) John Wayne.
Many depictions of heroism and sacrifice.
Sad to think that a few years later, the peace we/they won in Vietnam was thrown away by a Democratic Congress that stabbed our military, our allies and our nation in the back by cutting off funding to maintain the peace.
The North Vietnamese immediately broke the treaty and invaded South Vietnam.
That’s what the Left in this country does.
When that movie first aired the outcome of the war was unknown.
How sad to know that their sacrifice was thrown away.
For those who served, respect. For their loved ones who supported them, respect. For those who used them, contempt.
I’ve never visited the main Wall. I’m loathe to visit DC, however some years back I saw the traveling wall up in Topeka. My daughter, then around 12, met me as I came out and asked if I saw any names I knew. All I could say was “yeah.”
I can’t say that I’d recommend a trip to DC these days. I heard about the traveling wall but never saw it.
The Traveling Wall (one of them) is set up out at Vaterans Plaza here. I’d go, but SLW would have to drive me back.
Then-aviator Stockdale was shot down, then suffered enormously in the POW camp to keep the secret of the Gulf of Tonkin. I wonder if today he would still believe keeping a secret like that is the best approach. Isn’t “justice” trying to make the right thing happen, regardless of technicalities and details?
Admiral Stockdale died in 2005. I didn’t know him personally, but I think that if he’d had to do it over again that he would have given name, rank, and serial number.
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