What do stories related by soldiers who fought in Vietnam tell you about the experiences of soldiers in Vietnam? How was this war different from World War II? The Vietnam War turned out to be one of the most tragic experiences of the twentieth century.
Not only did it bring about death and sorrow inherent in any war, but it also led to dramatic social consequences and resulted in radical divisions among American families, communities, and the whole nation (Davidson et al., 2008). Opinions split as for the essence and necessity for the war, and the nation’s spirits dropped as thousands of American soldiers were perishing in a foreign land for no obvious reason.
In the dissonance of opinions on the Vietnam War, it appears reasonable to turn to the first-hand experiences of the veterans and to draw real-life information from their stories. When reviewing the Vietnam soldiers stories published on The Vietnam Experience (2008) and Vietnam Stories Regarding War (2010) websites, one gets the general impression of depression and disappointment that characterize the veterans. Most of them confess that the Vietnam War has left an indelible imprint on their outlook and character, with some people getting stronger, others being weakened and destroyed for decades onwards (Vietnam Stories Regarding War, 2010). Joe Galloway confesses that for many of them the Vietnam War was “everything”, a defining moment in life that worked later on as a prism through which they judged the world (Vietnam Stories Regarding War, 2010). Roland Rocheleau’s memories reveal the hypocrisy and the lack of professionalism in the army officials who conducted show visits and prohibited taking pictures of real-life Vietnam (Vietnam Stories Regarding War, 2010). The same indignation at the mendacity of motives and tendency for disinformation among the official press is seen in Edward Ewing’s sketch: a journalists jumps into the safety of the helicopter out of turn and intends to simply brag his own deeds instead of objectively recording the army’s courage; a lieutenant colonel is awarded a medal although he was never present at the battlefield (The Vietnam Experience, 2008). Such injustice could not be overlooked by the soldiers who fought to their last breath for ideals of democracy. The abovementioned attitude of emotional rejection constitutes the core difference between the Vietnam War and the World War II.
As contrasted to American fight against fascism for the greater good of the whole planet during the Second World War, the war in Vietnam appears a violent and unwelcome intrusion into a totally foreign territory which neither asked for help from outside nor needed it. The disturbed American society experienced economic and spiritual downturn, as the war overseas echoed in the domestic unrest (Davidson et al., 2008). The most dramatic part was that those soldiers who survived the terrors and injustice of war on the battle field returned home only to be met with the same injustice there. Contrary to the elevated moods that ruled the world after the victory over fascism, no triumphant reception of war veterans was held after the Vietnam War. According to the testaments of ex-soldiers, they faced distrust and ignorance from the civilians only for doing what they were told to (Vietnam Stories Regarding War, 2010). This cold and blaming attitude led to a huge social disaster of the Vietnam veterans who could never resume normal peaceful life again.
In addition to the ghosts of the war horrors, they were haunted by public ostracism and condemnation which made their lives miserable and senseless.
Davidson, J., DeLay, B., Heyrman, C.
, Lytle, M. & Stoff, M. (2008).
Nation of Nations. Boston: McGraw-Hill. The Vietnam Experience.
(2008). Retrieved March 3, 2010, fromhttp://vietnamexp.com/morestories/morestories.htm Vietnam Stories Regarding War.
(2010). Retrieved March 3, 2010, fromhttp://www.pbs.org/pov/regardingwar/stories/vietnam/