A Vietnam Memorial of One

In 1953, I was born into an America that was as humble as it was strong. We were proud of our heritage, but considerate of those who came before us and made our place in the world possible. It was a time when we did not boast of greatness, we demonstrated it. I was happy and felt blessed.

Within a decade my contentment was replaced by a deep and perplexing fear of something I barely understood. It was big, red, and epidemic. Its name: Communism.

Against this backdrop of hemorrhaging red evil, stood a far off and little-known country named Vietnam. It was there that the red disease would be arrested, and its poisons neutralized.

Naïve and immature, I believed as I had been taught. If not stopped in Vietnam, Communism would take over Southeast Asia and gain a foothold on the world. It was known as the domino theory, and the survival of America and its democratic values hinged on keeping the dominos from falling.

Killing was wrong, normally. But Commies were red and, as was said, one was better dead than red.

Prophetically, in January 1961, during his final address to the nation, President Eisenhower introduced the term “military-industrial complex.” At the time it was an obscure notion: the thought that anything American might work in a way that could undermine America, and American values, was hard to comprehend and seemed far-fetched.

Then came the war in Vietnam, and the warning that Eisenhower gave during his address, “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power,” became real.

Vietnam was a turning point in American history and one that has become more pronounced with time. The emotional response to patriotism, flag, freedom, heroism, and duty to country, has trumped the moral mandate for critical assessment, and the individual imperative to distinguish right from wrong.

When “serving country” right and wrong seem irrelevant, obsolete. We act as informed by the state and its political leaders whose elections and re-elections are funded primarily by the wealthy and large corporate interests. Proclaiming to put God and country first, we know their real interests lie elsewhere.

Patriotism is our new religion.

Ironically, the Vietnam Vet who was treated terribly upon returning from war is eulogized today. Not because we have discovered his great deeds, but instead because we have grown indifferent to the bright shining lie of Vietnam, masking its misery with patriotic slogans. Slogans that, repeated over and over, make us numb to the realities of this war, but firm in our conviction: unquestioned duty to country.

This site is dedicated firstly to the millions of Vietnamese who fell victim to America’s immoral actions; actions that put military, might, and money ahead of our core principals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

May all Vietnamese – living and dead – forgive us for our ignorance and arrogance, and the terrible things we did to their country. The war is long over but many scars remain to this day as evidenced by the millions of Vietnamese who suffer from birth defects, cancer, and other ailments caused by the spraying of over 19 million gallons of phenoxy herbicides, better known as chemical agents Pink, Green, Purple, and Orange.

Secondly, this site is dedicated to drawing our attention to the evils of unbridled patriotism. Our Vets, many of whom went to Vietnam to fight for freedoms there they did not find at home, paid the ultimate price for their misguided patriotism. They did as told, and fought for a country they loved, but were ultimately betrayed.

One’s devotion to country is only as good as the principals exercised by that country, its leaders and citizens, and those who take up arms in its defense. Ideology and jingoism must be stripped away to assure a sober and respectful understanding of the world. We must be thorough, detailed, hardworking, and questioning. Only then can we call ourselves patriotic.

 

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