The ides of Memorial Day are now upon us. War is being celebrated. They say as it is turned into an ever encompassing perpetual propaganda machine every year. Alright….fine. So then we can tell the stories of George Watkins, Ron Kovic, Phan Xuan Sinh, and the Vietnam veterans who were tragically effected in some kind of physical or mental way. Changed by war forever. George Watkins would say “Our worst time was about the entire month of December 1967. They brought one Chinook helicopter in and took us all out.” George Watkins was an infantrymen in the 196th Brigade. He stepped on a land mine and lost both his legs, severely effecting his ability to walk as well as losing his eye sight. His one leg eventually had to be amputated due to gangrene. Ron Kovic was a man who was paralyzed by a wound he received in the Danang River Valley in 1968. He was forever changed by that in so many ways. “I am your fourth of July, your yankee doodle dandy, I am your John Wayne come home, your fourth of July firecracker exploding in the grave.” His story is infamous for the film entitled Born on the Fourth of July” made by Oliver Stone who himself was a Vietnam Vet. Phan Xuan Sinh was a South Vietnamese veteran who mistakenly killed a city of people. Not armed, not even “the enemy.” All of these men have something in common, they all had a very traumatic and deadly expierence with war. I have been thinking about all of these stories. The ones who have been ignored by the government, the ones who have been crapped on. The ones who’s lives have been affected by war. The nation I love is forever in my heart this memorial day. The nation I love needs to be remembering the tragedies of this day only to understand the complex paradox as it seems as it is. War is a tragedy. That is what we must remember. Sacrifice to who? I ask. To my freedoms or my governments politics that have maimed thousands of men and women who are kids. Their just kids, kids who have lost so much for all of us. The day will come when the living will have to be judged by the dead who are brought back to haunt the livings misgivings. The consequence of the Vietnam war lives on the memories of those who have perished and who for those who have kept it alive need to bring some clarity to the war and what it caused for millions of people in the world. The United States needs to start talking about ending war, not promoting it with slogans, banners, and rhetoric on love of country. Take this example, Yesterday at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, Colin Powell kept on referring to us as sacrificing and not word was talked about the loss of a trauma, or physical ailment, or a guy in Iraq or Afghanistan who has been altered due to these wars. In the name of September 11, 2001. I will never forget that horrible day. The US president got Bin Laden, yes, but they forgot to ask the question, Why did the US train him? What was he used for? Soviet Union? Remember them when we used Mr. Bin Laden in the invasion of Afghanistan? CIA and the growing of Opium? I know this all seems to be a shock to all those reading this right now. War for freedom? War for democracy.? War for empire, greed, selfishness, and above all control of oil in the Middle East. My generation saw evil on its shores. The Vietnam war saw the worst form of evil as well. A perpetual progranda machine on its own people. The other conflicts were the Persian Gulf War was the one I remember when I was a kid about ten or so. 1991. I can almost remember that night in January. Wow, amazing. That day I asked my grandfather a question. “Who’s winning?” His reply was…….Nobody wins.
Ron Kovic, Born on the Fourth of July (introduction).