The Prez goes to Nam. I’ve thought lots about his trip as opposed to mine. Vietnam, as a war, continues to hang over us, the enigma of our times. Lots of baggage still hovers around Nam, like the President’s visit and Morley Safer dies, two significant happenstances.
Modern Vietnam is probably the epitome of a capitalist nation although calling itself communist. The Vietnamese as an ethnic group are probably the most successful in America. As entrepreneurs, they know no bounds.
There’s a big “take away” from the President’s visit, especially as we look to Memorial Day. For one thing, Vietnam reminds us why presidential elections matter. In our system of government, we often think the president can do more than they can–what the president can do is “send us to war.”
Nothing was more evident of that than Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin was a sham. LBJ says something like, “We are not going to let some pipsqueak country like Vietnam muscle us.” Vietnam brought him down.
On a 60 Minutes tribute to Morley Safer, he first went to Nam as a reporter and was told, “This thing will be over in 3 or four months.” TEN years later we escaped Nam with our tails between our legs and thankful to get out.
The war and its unending nature drove LBJ from office. Enter Nixon, elected on the idea that he would get us out of Vietnam. At that time, about six thousand GIs killed in Vietnam. By the time the sorry MFer left office, 58,000 plus dead.
Vietnam Vets have often felt maligned about Nam. We didn’t send ourselves. The country sent us and when we returned, we were blamed for the war. We’ve had to get over it. I can only speak for myself but as we have come out of the shadows, we find that our sacrifices mattered little.
We continue to make the same mistakes that took us to Nam in the first place. Our world was simpler during Vietnam but the principles remain the same.
The Vietnamese that I know, value freedom above all else. War is a terrible thing and no country realizes that more than the Vietnamese.
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