If you have followed this blog for anytime now, you know that I am passionate about Veterans issues. I do indeed write with a twist of satire and humor, but make no mistake about it, I mean what I say. I am extremely optimistic about the future of my fellow Veterans and I think this nation will be all the more better for our experiences. The picture above is actually my platoon have just returned from Iraq to Kuwait, enjoying a little Air Conditioning that was seriously lacking in Iraq circa 2003. However, that was the beginning of the end of it for us all. Glad it had an end. But I also have to acknowledge, things are getting a little weird and Vietnam Vets, us current generation of Veterans might need a little insight.
World War 2
I mean, this is the war we all really like right? The greatest generation. Total Mobilization. Total War. As we start to lose more of this WW2 generation, pretty soon, all most of us will know this war by are the history books and movies. Now there have been some great World War 2 movies. The latest of which is the movie Fury, which I highly recommend. This is not a movie review blog, but I’ll go ahead and give this one a plug. If Brad Pitt wants to cut me in on the profits as a result, I’ll be awaiting the check.
However, what is equally notable about this total war is that it was also Total Victory. Absolute, total and final victory. And by my count, that might be the last time it happened with such finality. Now this is at no fault of our military forces of the past 60 years. They did all that was asked of them, but this type of total victory was not extended as an option. I mean the Korean War gave us some epic Chesty Puller quotes, but 60 years and a few Kim Jungs later, we are still dealing with that place. The 1991 Gulf War was an epic victory, but see Operation Iraqi Freedom to know that there was something left hanging.
But my point is, despite the carnage World War 2 left on the world, it still holds this romantic lore in American society. Why? Perhaps because with this total War came total Victory in a way that gave closure like so few have since seen. When the war ended in 1945, Veterans could peacefully have coffee in Paris a year later. I mean, Germany and Japan are actually some of our greatest allies to date. That is a pretty epic turn around. And you know what, that generation deserved it. This total war was won on the backs of that generation and I can think of no greater gift to give them than this total victory that they so abundantly deserved.
Things That Transcend
I do think though that despite the differences that existed in these various decades, there are without a doubt some things that just transcend time. With the human anatomy being the same, I imagine the first time you were shot at created a pretty universal pucker factor that would be recognized in any decade. Moreover, watching the death of a fellow service member probably looked much the same. Anatomy is anatomy after all.
Moreover, War tends to build a brotherhood regardless of the generation you fought in. There is just something that is irreplaceable in the psyche of a warrior that causes them to have a unique bond with one another. I image if Facebook was around in the 1940’s and 50’s, you would see the same type of fellowship you see now among our generation of vets. And despite it being hard to imagine this of all our grandparents, yes probably as much profanity.
After all ,the nostalgia is probably all the same as well. Just this weekend, I was cleaning out my garage, and I came across a storage bin with my old desert cammies, digital and pre-digital mind you, my boots, and even a haji man dress thing that I bought in a market. Perhaps I’ll put it on and go squat outside of Wal-Mart or something. My generation of Vets knows what I mean by that. However, upon opening that bin, the nostalgia was overwhelming and I remember my WW2 Veteran Grandfather having a similar storage box in his closet. Fascinating.
The End of it All
So this is where I get to the title of my article, Vietnam Vets, we might need your help. Today there were stories going around about Camp Leatherneck being handed over to the Afghan forces. Now I served in Iraq in 2003, but never set foot in Afghanistan. However, I was drawn to a couple of sites on Facebook led by Veterans discussing the matter. The Warfighter Foundation gave their feelings on it and another site titled Sangin Valley Gun Club discussed it as well. And in both cases, I was drawn to the nostalgia that was obvious from them. It was real.
Now we all know Iraq to be the mess that it currently is today and that bothers us to a serious degree to watch the country in this condition. Brothers who served in Afghanistan now have to wonder if they will have to watch the same thing. Honestly, given what has happened in Iraq it is entirely possible. So that leads me to you Vietnam Vets, because we might need a little help processing this all.
I have seen the footage of the American embassy in Saigon being evacuated and having served in War myself now, I can’t honestly imagine how that made you feel. Its a strange thing for its not that any of us actually have an earnest desire to fight for a country that doesn’t have the guts to stand up and fight for itself. However, some of that territory we traversed and lived in will always have a part of us, so to watch it fall knowing the price that was paid is complex at best.
And as far as I am concerned, I honestly am not too sure how I feel about it all. I get some anger, some ambivalence, some nostalgia, and a little more anger. And since we are just now drawing down in recent years from this decades long conflict, its all fairly new to most of us in this generation. I think we will indeed come through it all just fine, but it doesn’t look like we will all be having coffee in Baghdad or Kubul anytime soon like our grandparents could in Berlin or Tokyo. So how silly would it be not to listen to the input of the generation that came before us. So to my generation of Vets, sound off, how does it make you feel. And to the generation that came before us from Vietnam, you guys might have the right words a current veteran needs to hear these days. For like the Movie Jarhead quotes succinctly, “Every War is different, Every War is the same.”
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