It is the summer in late 60’s. Two kindergarten boys roll down the slope between their houses and come to a stop. They climb back to the top and look up at the beautiful blue sky. They pant from running around the yards playing cowboys and indians.
One of them turns to the other and says “What are you going to do when you are drafted? Are you going to Vietnam or are you going to Canada?”
The other boy thinks hard, “Dad is in the Navy. I’m going to join up and be an officer like him.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I might go to Canada.”
War just was. Two young boys discussing what they were going to do in 13 years when they were drafted to go fight in a war that the government refused to call a war. A war that had been going on for decades, even before the US got involved.
The media was peddling the same narratives, the US military was evil. That our soldiers committed atrocities on a regular basis. Just a few years later, in April of 1971, John Kerry, future presidential candidate, testifies in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the horrible atrocities he witnessed.
At every turn the media delivered a story of failure.
Still a young boy was ready to go to war to defend his country. He didn’t understand all those big words, but his father was fighting for his country and he would go do his father and his country proud.
A small truth that is forgotten, an 18 year old man drafted and sent to Vietnam in this time period had a better chance of living than his civilian counterpart back in the states. Car safety was not as good as it is today. Many young men lost their lives on the streets and highways of this country. More per capita than lost their lives in Vietnam.
Please don’t misunderstand me, war is horrible. It does things to the body and mind that most, thankfully, will never experience and few will understand. I still thank those vets when I meet them. I’ve talked to them when the war was still fresh in their minds. I have huge respect for those that fought and continue to fight for our country.
Note also that my respect is for those that fight for our country, not all that are members of the military fight for our country.