During Viet Nam
© James J. Alonzo
“During Viet Nam:” We say the words, because the name signifies more than a place, it is an era, a paradigm, a memory, a righteous or a mistake.
“During Viet Nam“, things were the same as they are now for those who are young and poor.
“During Viet Nam”--We were standing around, there was no lack of work or low pay, it was the beginning of our times as men and women, and we were looking to prove ourselves, or looking for a way out.
“During Viet Nam”--Some were patriots and many were the sons of men who had gone to another war and come back admired, and classified as the ’Greatest Generation”.
“During Viet Nam“--There were those of that era who felt it was a wrong war, and stood up for their beliefs.
“During Viet Nam”--I did not remember hearing of any mercenaries, or Blackwater, or highly paid government contractors to do the fighting, because we had a draft back then to fill the ranks.
“During Viet Nam”--We were crossing thresholds, starting to lie to ourselves about things and because we were there, ambitious, patriotic, or desperate, when they passed out weapons, we took them.
“During Viet Nam”--We did not understand the disordered nature of the universe, so disordered humans must try to arrange it, and if they get you young enough, you will help.
I am grieved but not guilty. Sad but not ashamed. That does not mean I sleep well at night, or do not sweat at night. It does not mean it is easy to live.