April 9th, 2014
My Vietnam Experience
The sudden noise of a dog bark, doorbell, loud noise, or a certain smell can trigger the flashbacks from the war. The flashbacks can take me back to a helicopter ride by a small inhale of diesel, or the smell after a tank explodes. Loud noises can trigger memories of my nighttime guard duty and fights against our enemies. These noises and smells would make a “normal” person just jump or not even notice a common smell, but for me, a scare or smell instantly transports my memory back to my experiences in Vietnam. The images I thought I left behind in the war torn land of Vietnam soon become unraveled and vivid in my mind, as real as they were when I experienced them as a 19 year-old boy. Little did I realize that the images would be engrained in my mind for the rest of my life. This PTSD is one of the many problems my fellow soldiers and I faced when coming back from Vietnam. I have been asked many times by many people about my thoughts on the war. Questions such as, “Do you resent the United States for putting you through that?” kept coming up in conversation. Honestly I don’t resent my country. I am and will always be a man of honor. When my country needs me, I respond bravely and do my job and don’t ask questions. The only problem I really had with that time in my life was the treatment my fellow soldiers and I received when we returned. We thought the least we could ask for was support.
The Vietnam War was long and extremely drawn out. The war was carried through many presidencies. The official dates of the war were 1959-1975 but many believe Vietnam talk and planning began long before this. It is said that we first started training forces in South Vietnam in 1956. France had just left Vietnam and our government saw this perfect opportunity to intervene and make it look extremely necessary to the American people. Communism was a huge threat to our life style in the states and we couldn’t risk Southeast Asia being a communist area because there were resources there that we wanted (Farber). This war was the United States aiding South Vietnam from being engulfed by North Vietnam and their Communism. I remember first hearing talk about the Vietnam War when Eisenhower came into office. The roots seem to begin here. The U.S. decided to make a policy of militant anti-Communist forces that opposed Communism all over the world (Kaiser). The government had been building a strong national security bureaucracy since the Second World War (Kaiser). This was made so that the United States could resist any further Communist expansion and that the US should resist the Communist spread whenever possible (Kaiser). The real core of the Vietnam War lays in Eisenhower’s administration, to build up pro-American, Anti-Communist regimes in Southeast Asia. These policies Eisenhower had made deeply influenced Kennedy and Johnson’s presidencies (Kaiser).
1960 marks the end of Ike Eisenhower’s and the beginning the great John Kennedy’s administration. During Kennedy’s presidency they tripled the number of administration in Vietnam twice (lecture). Kennedy’s main reasoning for sending over troops was to help South Vietnam. A quote from Kennedy about this decision was, “The United States is determined to help Vietnam preserve its independence, protect its people against communist assassins, and build a better life through economic growth” (Farber). This war was the first that Americans could literally watch from their living rooms Kennedy did not finish out what he had started because he was assassinated on Friday November 22, 1963. After this national tragedy, Kennedy’s vice president, Lyndon Johnson, took the position of commander in chief. “Peace without conquest.” I remember sitting in my living room and listening attentively to every word that came out of President Lyndon Johnsons mouth. Johnson informed the American citizens that we had made a pledge with...
Cited: O 'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York: Broadway, 1990. Print.
Kaiser, David E. American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the
Vietnam War. Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard Univ.
Press, 2000. Print.
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