Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Remembering those who gave their lives in wars

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 12:00 am

There are some places to which I am drawn, places that memory holds and cannot release. One such place is Normandy of D-Day — June 6 — infamy.

Memorial days as celebrated in western countries such as the United States, Britain, France and the Netherlands, honor the fallen of wars and their deeds.

One Memorial Day, I attended services in Arnhem, the Netherlands, site of “A Bridge Too Far.” And then there was Dachau, the Nazi extermination camp near Munich with its notorious welcoming sign, “Arbeit macht frei,” work will set you free. Of course, it didn’t for hundreds of thousands.

Yet, through the years, I knew there was another memorial to which I was being drawn.

The Vietnam Memorial. I was, and still am, unsettled about that war and grieve for the young men who died fighting it. I think of our participation in that war as a chapter many years in the making and a story still being told.

It was the story of once-young men and women, and the victims, and the 57,939 whose names were etched into a stretch of black marble gouged into the fine earth of the Washington Mall. They were among the more than 500,000 sent to Vietnam.

“It’s time we recognized that ours was in truth a noble cause,” then-President Ronald Reagan said. I can’t agree with that, and I wonder if that view would be shared by most of those whose names appeared on that black marble.

I have to think that if there was anything noble about that war, it was not the cause, but the men and boys who did what their country said was their duty.

If there is a nobility about dying in war, it is to be found defending country, freedom or family. It is not to be found in questionable wars with questionable aims. Vietnam was not a World War I or World War II. This was the cause where the end never could justify the means.

Almost from the beginning, we tried to impose an American style of democracy on a nation that had no understanding of democracy as we understand it. It never worked, opposing a people that already had been fighting the French for 35 years, and winning.

Frank McCulloch, former editor of the Sacramento Bee, a Time magazine bureau chief in Vietnam, and one of the most revered names in journalism, said this: “The society of the north had no problem with public support and that it was defending its homeland. They were a war people 1,000 years ago. They are a war people today. They just licked us hands down in most one-on-one situations.”

David Halberstam, a great journalist, in his book, “The Best and the Brightest,” said this: “The North had become invulnerable to bombing. Bringing in more combat troops would bring the same problems encountered by the French who suffered a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu” — after which the French said “enough” and pulled out of Vietnam, leaving more than 7,000 men to the mercies of the north. Most were never seen again.

In Vietnam, we followed our boys through the moving pictures of hand-held cameras and the words of the media people who walked with them. And we watched as they walked through valleys of death. We saw them hug the ground as bullets and mortars ripped overhead.

We saw mud on their faces and tears being shed, and saw blood on their chests. We saw eyes that saw no more.

We saw ponchos over bodies and bodies placed in bags and then in flag-draped coffins for the quiet trip home to their native land, a land torn by its own war, mostly a non-shooting war but a war nevertheless. Then, the coffins would return to the Mantecas or Stocktons, to their native soil. There would be no marching bands and few presentations of medals.

Some years later, I would find myself in front of that black monument where for the longest time I kept my hand pressed against it, tears from my eyes.

I looked not for an individual name, but drawing all names into my being as I mourned for the lost souls.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 14 hours ago by Steve Schmidt.

article: Letter: Vote no on giving taxpayer mone…

Sure there are leftist extremists but, if they are living in Syria, they certainly are keeping their heads down.

More...

Posted 15 hours ago by M. Doyle.

article: General Mills announces ‘preliminary de…

This closure has nothing to do with wages, kevin. Read the article. People aren't eating as much cereal. Food trends have shifted the de…

More...

Posted 16 hours ago by Eric Barrow.

article: General Mills announces ‘preliminary de…

Has nothing to do with labor or minimum wage General Mills earned over 2.5 billion in profits last year and paid out shareholders to the tu…

More...

Posted 17 hours ago by trista aquino.

article: Letter: Evil is always present

Oh no no the hostages I was talking about were their translators, assistants, the guy working with the 3rd man w/that humanitarian group an…

More...

Posted 18 hours ago by Kevin Paglia.

article: Letter: Vote no on giving taxpayer mone…

IF America truly wants to take the power away from the Middle East terrorists then we HAVE to hit them where it hurts. Develop non-oil dep…

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists