It was war… not the kind waged in the 21st century, with terrorists; but war with armies and uniforms and borders and national interests. It’s all encompassing, conscripted, waged, politicized, and lied about. It’s cruel, bloody, noisy, messy, rife with mistakes, deadly, gross, inhuman, and unfair. It is never played on an even plain, righteous, warranted, or clear-minded. Every war is mankind’s biggest mistake and what makes it worse is that the men caught up in it are the innocents; the losers, in this case, sold an unrealistic ideal, a patriotic slogan, a vision of greatness in sacrifice they eventually found wanting.
War has a face that’s different depending on your vantage point. Who wins and who loses may not be right, or virtuous, and those who fight are always on the losing side.
In the Vietnam War two ideologies met with predictable results.
The Vietnamese fought not for communism, but for nationalistic goals. Vietnam had been occupied by foreigners for a thousand years, since before Ghangis Kahn. The latest to occupy were the French, then the Japanese, then the French again. The Vietnamese national who led Vietnam’s rebel forces in dispatching the Japanese, also fought the French and the Americans. He was a true Vietnamese patriot; and he was a communist.
Through the Americans, readers will see the conflict of serving and going to war with little understanding of the consequences their commitment would have. Most of these young kids served without a clear vision of America’s interest in Vietnam or a strident reason for putting their lives on the line. Of course, the draft made service mandatory, but our American characters joined the service of their own accord.
NAM (a novel), The Story of a Generation deals with the fallout that happens to both sides of the war and asks questions that never can be truly understood: Why did we fight and what was gained and lost from the war?
David Garris says
Outstanding! Realistically informative! Personally lost 3 high school buddies due to this political disaster! When I visited the Vietnam Memorial in DC and saw their names I was overwhelmed with memories and cried like one of the characters in the novel. Interesting situation is that the author Mel Smith is a neighbor of mine who I regularly see at the gym. I will look to discussing the novel in person someday.
SF Parrott says
David, Thank you for your comments. You’ll enjoy speaking to Mel not only about his book “NAM (a novel), The Story of the Vietnam Generation,” but about his military service as well. Thank you for you comments. ~ SP