Things I’d Rather Not Learn

I’ve sat through films and read comic books and regular books, watched documentaries, and listened to plenty of stories.

Enough stories to know that thoughts about war has two parties: listener and speaker. No right or wrong or left or right, it just has its story and its believer. (War is similar to religion in that respect.)

Everyone has their beliefs about history and politics and that’s that. Nothing will change the fact that people’s politics evolve naturally on their own, rarely because of some heated debate over drinks or the exchanging of swings in a parking lot. Politics never made me enemies but poor manners have determined a few of my foes. Personal ideas usually like to stay steadfast and hard.

The mere idea of war makes me very uneasy. Hypocritcally, I enjoy depictions of war because a depiction is more art than reality. Additionally, no one needs to be maimed, killed or tortured. Families and soldiers aren’t emotionally destroyed nor is there any burden on politicians to justify a depiction as integral to our nation’s freedom or as a reason to parade our bullets and balls in front of the world.

Foreigners aren’t interested in taking American rights away, they’re usually
interested in not being hungry anymore or they’re eyeing a little piece of the pie we yanks have been enjoying since forever.

But no combat veteran deserves anything less than unconditional gratitude from everyone who didn’t serve. That goes beyond politics and what side of the aisle or fence you’re on. Period.

Washington suits are a different thing entirely because soldiers don’t decide where to go or who to fight. Bureaucrats and corporations that reek of greed and practice evil business make those kinds of decisions.

Knowing all that I reluctantly visited Saigon’s War Remnants Museum today and it wasn’t long until I was quite sick with sorrow. My discomfort and anger couldn’t decide if remembering the war in such a way was good for healing or better for publicity. It’s actually best for both. With its exhibitions of grisly atrocities, it really is a universal call for peace and its politics are (I’m reminding myself) just that. Politics. I left after just a few minutes.

Point is war sucks horribly for everyone including all sides so when tourists ham it up for photos in front of Hueys and Howitzers it really trips me out.


5 responses to “Things I’d Rather Not Learn

  1. One of the first places my fiancee took me during my first trip to VN was the War Remnants Museum. As ex-military, there was a feeling of obligation to do so, even though I enlisted a few years after American involvement in the Vietnam debacle was over. The Dioxin/Agent Orange section was by far the most disturbing, especially since the after effects killed my stepfather. It was awful. Maybe I just imagined the locals giving me sideways glances, wondering if I had been a participant. Most Vietnamese folks I have met would be entirely too polite to make a guest feel that uncomfortable, regardles of how justified they would have been. Pretty sure I didn’t imagine the looks from the French and German twenty-something backpackers. We still have a large, delinquent obligation to the people of Vietnam. Hope to do my part to satisfy that obligation, just not sure how yet.

  2. Big soul, Jim. Grateful for the insight and candor, there are some moral questions that still linger about the war but like you mentioned, it doesn’t seem like the Vietnamese hold grudges against individuals. They don’t forget, but they don’t hate, either. I can only imagine the revelations your new culture has to offer! Sweet! Congratulations, and thanks for your comment, I’m intrigued. Sorry for the delay in response, as well. That goes for everybody.

  3. Incredible timing….minutes after opening Yahoo and seeing your reply, the phone rang, and it was my girl in HCMC. Water has broken, contractions started. Gonna be one damn long night……so hopefully, after a few anxious hours for me, and tough ones for my girl, I will forever be connected to that most special country. Or, my new family will.

  4. Whoa! My utmost congratulations, hope all goes well and y’all hang in there. How far are you from HCMC? If you already mentioned it, sorry.

  5. I am about as far away as one can be…Houston…but Michael Nguyen McMahon (3.2 kilos) was born about 10:30 Thursday evening, Saigon time…Mom and baby doing fine. They have this seclusion thing they do post-partum, and I was actively encouraged to wait to come over for at least a month…so I have a ticket to leave here the 2nd of September, get to be with my girl and my new son…be there for about 10 days…if the immigration lawyer is right, will have my new family in Texas before the end of this year…

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