It’s a Quiet July Fourth

But that’s okay. It’s hot, but I am inside, cool and comfortable. I can write anything I want to on this blog, and there is no “Big Brother” censoring me. I can protest the government. I can say how I feel about anything going on in the United States (and there’s plenty). Or, I can choose to not say anything.

Choosing to say nothing, though is a slippery slope for me. It implies that I agree with the status quo, and I am reminded of the wars, especially Vietnam. I was pretty naive during that war, even though I remember watching it on the news at dinner. Jungles and body counts. But then came something that caught my attention: a massacre at My Lai, a mass murder of people, including children and babies. Who could do such a horrible thing, I wondered? And I began paying attention. People were protesting; some fled to Canada. Was the United States going down? Were we a bad country now?

I tried to ask my parents to explain this war, but it was hard for them. Read the newspapers, they said, and I did. There was no internet, no 24-hour news feed, so I read the daily papers and Time and Newsweek. I still didn’t really understand it, so I watched for Vietnam to end.

It did, very eventually. But the men and women who had served, many of them drafted, did not receive the honor and attention they deserved. It was as though Vietnam was a bad word, and since they had participated, they were bad, too. Or maybe people were too embarrassed to talk about it. I did not know anyone who had personally been in ‘Nam, but I watched the big wigs, the military from a strangely-shaped building called The Pentagon. None of them said who won or lost the war, but I could see the truth, as I watched people running away from the jungles to get home.

Did it matter that we lost? Would it have mattered if we had won? What would have been our prize? Door Number One or Door Number Two?

After Vietnam, my husband served in the Navy and retired. My son will be retiring from the Navy in November. I thank them for their service because no matter what they saw or did, some of it was bad, and I am proud of them.

Moreover, on this 2018 July Fourth, I would like to thank the Vietnam vets, the ones who did not come home to a hero’s welcome, even though they deserved one. Thank you for your service. I remember you.

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