Example essay on The Impact of the Vietnam War on the People of America
The Vietnam War was one of the most tragic wars in American history. The affects it had on the American people were tremendous. Even today many Americans have the frightening, unforgettable memories of the war. The war was accounted to be over in 1973, but Americans still suffer the aftershocks of a national trauma that has left the nation bitterly divided and estranged from its ideals. Although the painful memories will be eased, they will never be fully healed.
Today I will have the pleasure of interviewing a close friend of the family. He has been a friend of the family for about fifteen years and I’ve personally known him for about ten of those years. Off course his identity will be kept confidential. I will be asking him many questions on his views and opinions of the Vietnam war. I will also be asking him questions about life at home during this painful time in American society. The aftershock left from the war and how life went on after this horrible experience.
During the 1960’s my subject was a young eighteen year old with a bright future ahead of him. He was growing up in a small town just north of Corpus Christi Texas. Life at home was comfortable in his words. His family wasn’t poor or wealthy. But some how they always managed to get what they needed or asked for. From the very beginning he was worried about the war. Being a young teenager he was still confused about all the drama surrounding the war. Reason for protesting and why or why not to enter the war was all confusing. Why they were fighting in this war was also another question he wondered.
All that he knew was that he should volunteer for the war because that was the right thing to do. When he would talk to his mom and dad about volunteering for the war his family was fine with his decision to try to volunteer for the war. So he and his best friend would make a little trip up north to an army recruiter in San Antonio Texas. They would have to take a test and to his disappointment he would fail the test. First of all he was flat footed and he couldn’t see all that well. So there would be no war for him. He would go back to his everyday life in a small town and continue being a boy. He said that because he felt if he would have entered the war at that point it would of made him and whoever entered the war men. Because in war you had to grow up fast. My subject has mixed feelings about the draft. One thing about the draft that he didn’t like was that it was taking these immature eighteen year olds and sending them to war against these trained men. These men they would go to war against were killing machines, which had an advantage of fighting in their own environment, rigged with tunnels and other traps. He was trying to explain how they’re our some eighteen and nineteen year old men who are mature enough to go into war at such a young age. But there were also some kids from his area who were not ready physically or mentally for war. He then turned the table and asked me to take a moment and just think of myself or some of my high school classmates in war.
Just to think of my friends or myself in war at such a young age was scary. He also felt bad because he went to volunteer for this war and was rejected while others who didn’t want to go into the war were being drafted. Luckily for him there was no close relatives or friends who were drafted into the war. The only reason he was lucky for that was because during the time of the war he didn’t have to worry about close friends or relatives in the war fighting. He points out during this time no one in the American society were “lucky” because in a way everyone was suffering because of the war. But there were some classmates he didn’t know all to well who were drafted and went to war. He points out how there was some classmates that he doesn’t know how they would react when they actually went into combat. There were also some classmates which like himself went to go volunteer.
When I brought up “draft dodgers” my subject would take a moment to think about his answer. For this answer he also had mixed feelings. He would then reply with Coming from such a small community that everyone was brought up on respect and becoming men his early opinions about draft dodging was they were cowards. People who didn’t have the strength and courage to fight for their country. But as time went on he would later view draft dodging as “hey they did what they had to do”. If they were avoiding a war that the US should have been in they would be cowards. But we shouldn’t have been in this war and there was no good for us in this war. So his simple answer was they did what they had to do. He doesn’t really remember being told any war stories from people that actually experienced the war. But he remembers hearing stories that were pass to him from friends who had relatives in the war. He does recall one main point about the war from stories heard. In all the stories he remembers being told how the Vietnamese were so battle ready. How one minute they were there shooting and the next minute they were gone. Many traps were set up all through the fields and many tunnels would be found. It was like they had been preparing for war all their lives. He also recalls many horrible killings and battles. His comment on that was they were so gruesome that he doesn’t know or at least he hopes they were being exaggerated when they were being told to him.
When asked how did his community felt about those serving in the war his reply was that his community was nothing like those seen on TV or heard of from the radio reports. Coming from such a small ranching and farming with some industrial community everyone was proud of their boys for being brave and fighting in the war. Parents were proud to have their sons fighting for their country. In his community he never experienced riots or acts of protest against the war. For when the boys came home they were welcomed back into the community. They were viewed as being brave and fighting for there country. When asked why was his community like this compared to all the protest going on in the united states at the time about how our boys shouldn’t be fighting in a war we shouldn’t be involved in. His reply to that after a moment of thinking was his community is so small that the only right thing to do was back each other. Off course the reason for fighting the war was questioned but the fact is that this small community which everyone basically new each other in some kind a way and every family had ties to all the other family’s in a way the only thing to do was back and support each other and pray everyone came home safe. They had no time to argue or protest. No one in this community really had enough money to go out to Washington or any other important sites to join protest. Now I would ask him about the status of military today. His reply was it has completely changed. Today those in the military our viewed as courageous and brave. Today you don’t see as much protesting as you did in the Vietnam era. He says even to this day the United States gets themselves involved in situations we shouldn’t be involved in and sometimes American soldier’s get killed in these unnecessary attempts to bring peace to wherever they are at. But these soldiers our viewed as heroes and seen as fighting for a good cause. My next question was why is the Vietnam war not talked about. With a smerk his reply was that this country takes so much pride in their military power. Pride in knowing we can basically defeat anyone in war that when this little country defeated us it was like everyone was shock. How did we lose so many lives was the question everyone was asking. He also added that all Americans want to forget this time of tragedy because we lost so many young lives kids that were our future for no reason at all.
My next question would be what was life like after the war. While nodding his head in almost a manner of discuss and sadness he said it was tough. For the next couple of year maybe even the next decade the boys who came back home had to deal with some rough times. It was like only half of the battle was over for them. Now they would have to enter society and start all over. Many now had physical disabilities and many had mental disabilities. Now they would have to deal with a society that didn’t want them fighting in the war in the first place. Many family’s and friends were torn apart because of the war and for those who lost a close one it was even more difficult to understand why their loved one died. It was a sad time for the United States he replies. He would also give another reason why it was tough. Because we came home not winning the war. This was the first time in our history we were defeated in battle and that was also tough to swallow.
By doing this interview I gained so much and learned so much about this era in American society. I would learn the feeling from a small community. How there views of the war were so different from the bigger cities in America. I was shocked to hear how this small community and many other small community’s around the Unites States had so much pride in their children who were fighting for their country. I also didn’t know that people were getting rejected from entering the war. I thought that the United States was in so much need for soldiers that anyone and everyone were being taken. I was shocked to hear they were rejecting some who wanted to be in the war therefore having to draft those who didn’t want to be in the war. During the interview my subject pointed out how even though he was flat footed and couldn’t see that good he would of been more useful then a scared eighteen year old who was lost and confused and probably ended up being killed. He was sad when he said that. But if you think about it that does make sense. Its like someone who wants to be in the game will have a better chance of succeeding compared to someone who is scared and doesn’t want the ball hit to them. Its sad to think of these kids thrown into war not prepared. Another aspect I learned from this interview that I had never thought about was the young men who had to go to war. I sat for a while and tried to imagine some of my friends in war. I tried to imagine how I would be in war. I have trouble with everyday small activities I couldn’t imagine the pressure of having to go out into war and fire at someone. Seeing someone killed in front of me would terrify me. Trying to imagine how scared these kids were. Some not ever being away from their family’s or even out of their state and now they’re in a country fighting in war.
This was truly a horrible experience for those involved. For the many who lost their lives for no reason and for their family’s this was a time that will never be forgotten. All that we can hope for is that the United States doesn’t have to experience a time like this again. For America we cant forget about this time and we shouldn’t be ashamed of talking about this time. There is so many of us who don’t know anything about the Vietnam war and for those who lost their lives it would be only right for people of today to be informed about what happened during this time. That’s why I fully agree with people like the bikers who do the run for the wall. All these men are doing is causing awareness for those who lost their lives. Sure this wasn’t our war and we maybe shouldn’t have fought in it but the simple fact is we did and we lost many American lives that can’t be forgotten or not talked about.
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