Monday, December 20, 2010

I'll be fighting in Vietnam for Christmas

On December 20th 1967 there were 474,300 US soldiers in Vietnam. Nearly half a million of our own flesh and blood. The number is so large I can hardly imagine the scale. In High School I felt cramped when 30 people were in the same class. Tougher to imagine still are the conditions.

Take one example: Agent Orange; a potent herbicide used to devestate and make worthless agricultural land. All in order to put a real damper on the N. Vietnamese army's food supply. Makes enough sense logically. It's a lovely modern equavelent to cutting off Hitler's fuel lines in the Battle of the Bulge. The after effects however is where the Devil lies.

"Agent Orange Overview:  Approximately 20 million gallons of herbicides were used in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971"

We exposed not only exposed tens of thousands of our troops to a harsh chemical linked to an insane myriad of birth defects and adult diseases. The domestic populations as well as the enemy all faced the same sword of damocles. Similiar to the short sightedness of the Nuclear Bomb. Where scientists had their mind set that the blast itself would be the most dangerous effect of the bomb. Not till after they saw the carnage of Radiation poisoning did they realise they were quite a ways off.

Herbicide being sprayd from a Huey:



Major Tu Duc Phang (from Khanh Hoa Province), looking at his portrait taken before he joined the Vietnamese army. In 1973, he fought at the southern battlefield and participated in saving the weapon store in Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa). Twelve years later, Phang saw large, black and red spots and water bubbles appearing on his body and all his hair had fallen out, which was caused by exposure to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange

Looking back on recent history that was still before my time brings to bear some perspective. People seem just as incenced now about the soldiers who have died and the crimes and confusion that typically follow warfare as they did then. Despite the level of calamity being so greatly reduced. Veterans who suffer still suffer alone and largely ignored. They make up a large portion of the homeless and have diseases the Government often times won't even officially recognize.

In my opinion it shows to some degree the homogenization of raw violence has lead to a lesser appetite for it in the real world. However the suffering of the warrior after battle is not a great concern nationally. Even if you travel back in history the wars become bloodier than the last. The more blood there was the more support it typically had. Also the more wounded died during treatments-ailments ignored completely or survived to lead disfigured and scared lives. Perhaps people are unwilling to support a bloodless war. That after war is engaged apon that which spurs it on is the very act itself. Continue the war for the sake of the fallen in that very same war. The war hero returns home only to be considered a relic of a conflict people now wish to forget.

It's an idle idea I had and takes no real regard for politics or things of importance in that arena; such as the Pentagon Papers, who's President and who was hitting Hippies with night sticks.

I just felt that this close to the Holiday Season; a season in which people still have sons and daughters fighting for each other and themselves in a far off land. That everyone should take a moment and reflect on the past so we don't head blindly into the future. Ignoring History and its' important nuances only helps aids in repeating it.

History class might have been boring for you. But how boring is it when it's actually being made?....again.

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