Regrettably, World War II was my father’s war. He was a prisoner of war and experienced it from the perspective of a soldier in combat, in prison and as a veteran. He was against war but he fought it with valor. He spent five years inside a prison camp where he was abused and mistreated just like his fellow soldiers captured at the battle’s end.
Traditionally, my family has always been engaged in a war, a feudal war, a civil war, a war of words and a war for peace. We had many discussions of war in our family but the Vietnam War was mine and my brothers. It’s true, we won the war but we lost it at the end. We fought valiantly and thousands died but when it was over, we never won. We could have won and we should have won but we lost the war.
We didn’t lose it on the battlefields, we fought with exceptionalism and heroism but we lost the war politically. At home there were families torn apart by the war and each had their own reasons why. The Vietnam War was a bitter war that should have never been begun. It was doomed from the moment we set boots on the ground on this troubled South Republic of Vietnam.
Soldiers fought fearlessly and struggled to meet the invisible enemy so hard to find. While at home there were people, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters protesting this war with passion from their hearts. There were politicians and truth tellers on television telling the public how it really was while soldiers died in vain as the cause was never defined or ever discussed.
Some say it was a futile exercise to fight communism while others said it was an exercise for freedom. The only truth that mattered was the exercise on the battlefields as the casualties mounted and the names on the wall brought out the reality of its horror and sacrificing of honored souls who died for their country.
There were those who volunteered and there were those who were drafted. It didn’t matter in the end as they all worked together to get tougher and braver so they could endure the fight. Their color didn’t matter and their loss affected everyone who knew their name.
Some came home with guilt. Some came home without limb and some came home in a box. There are lots of article and pictures about those heroes but nobody really cared about them coming home until about twenty years later when the nation’s conscience started to dig in the reality of abandonment and betrayal to those who served with honor but were disrespected at the end.
In time the guilt goes away while the trauma is never ending. There isn’t enough said or done to heal the visible wounds on the outside while they suffer with the invisible wounds on the inside the head as well as the heart. An everlasting condition that would occasionally tear them apart.
This stuff didn’t make the headlines then and it rarely makes it today. We don’t talk about and it will never go away. The movies portray the war with heroes and enemies and battle and death. We watch them over and over but never really grasp the fact that war is much more than that.
I didn’t join up with the Army for back then the Army joined me up against my will. They said it was for the duty to my country so I stayed and endured the pain. Going through basic training I realize I was but ant in a very large colony and who I was would never be the same.
They take your heart, your soul and the mind and take away your name. They teach you how to kill and stay alive as your individuality dissipates away. Like the smoke of a lost torpedo, you never know where you are going to stay but one thing is for sure and that is war will never go away.
My father was a proud and honorable soldier. He had told me war stories that made me realize that there was no shame in feeling bad for those who were killed and those who were about to die. He never joked about the war and neither did I. there is no honor in desecrating souls who stood tall and died.
No matter what side they were on, no matter what uniform they wore. They were soldiers who courageously answered the call for duty and fight a war. So when you hear the stories told about the war and how it was fought. Remember that no war is ever won for it lasts forever inside your heart.