Sunday, August 29, 2004

Vietnam Drones On

I was just being born when Vietnam was wrapping up. Being the usual curious child, I asked my Uncle dozens of times about his service in Vietnam. To this day, the only thing I know is that he was a medic. Each time I asked he declined. It occurs to me that these moments shaped my feelings about being a hero, contributing to charity, and performing good deeds. I could never really put my finger on why I long have had a special distrust about people who went out of their way to tell people how much they contribute to society. A special seething anger about people who over-exagerated their war service. After listening for weeks to the whole John Kerry " I am a Vietnam Hero " mantra, I have to begin to wonder how my Uncle got so wedged into my moral code. It isn't as if when I asked my Uncle got that far away tortured look, or got choked up. He simply changed the subject. Finally into my teens I stopped asking. My Aunt said he would never talk about it. Not even to her. I have to admit, I am still curious. I have always been that sort of person who didn't want to hide from the ugliness of the world. I won't bothering asking, because I know he will never tell.

As ugly as Vietnam was, and the type of duties he performed, it now occurs to me I have never heard my Uncle complain about the war. Never said how wrong and useless it was. The reason I mention it is because after watching John Kerry's Senate speech, the contrast between his words and my Uncles lack of words seem like such an immense contrast. I imagine my uncle was drafted and did a full tour of duty. My uncle was poor and was never wounded, so he wouldn't have been eligible for early release or deferments. Yet he has quietly moved on with his life.

John Kerry on the other hand has taken every opportunity use those four months in his youth to better his career. It is apparent the last thing my Uncle wants is to remember anything about Vietnam. Even to use it for his own benefit. In John Kerry's Senate speech he said " We wish a merciful God could wipe way our own memories". My Uncle acts like a man who wishes for that. John Kerry does not.

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