Watching the Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War over the past two weeks wasn't easy, but it was worth every minute. It took those eighteen hours to encompass all the many aspects of a complicated situation that eventually covered thirty years of this nation's history ... and was surely one of its darkest chapters.
Burns didn't hold back, and I learned a great deal about what motivated our participation in what was basically a civil war in a small country in Southeast Asia ... a war we should never have been a part of, something I think we all agree on, even though the divisions that took place during the war still resonate in the United States.
I'm still processing what I saw, and the strong emotions I felt as a result. I was a young mother during most of the period we were actively engaged in combat, and while I was aware of the war it wasn't central to my life. Perhaps it should have been. My heart aches for every person who served and whose lives were changed forever for many reasons.
My emotions ranged from anger to dismay to sorrow. Anger at the lies we were told, at the arrogance of some politicians and military leaders. Dismay at our abandonment of the South Vietnamese. Sorrow for all the young lives lost, and for what? Sorrow for the warriors - wounded in body and spirit - who were treated so despicably on returning home.
And also, gratitude and hope. Gratitude for their fortitude, for the valiant manner in which so many fought. Gratitude for the vets who built the memorial Wall; for those who have shared their stories. And hope. Hope that despite all indications to the contrary, we will NOT repeat those mistakes. Hope that I saw in the lives of some of the veterans who have reached halfway around the world to embrace their former enemies and in that way found peace. Hope that never again will we blame the warriors for the war.
My novels about two of those warriors, Andrew and Jacob Cameron. Historical fiction.
Memories of Jake, available in paperback and e-book on Amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Memories-Jake-Susan-Moore-Jordan/dp/1544274203/Man with No Yesterdays, to be released 11/11/2017
Used by permission of Dr. Bertram Zarins