Vietnam was an illegal occupation of a sovereign nation. The "punishment" that returning Vietnam troops experienced was nothing, absolutely nothing compared to what the Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians were put through.
That very well may be true, but then you're talking about eighteen year old kids in a lot of cases who were told under threat of prison that they had to go - right?
Were they given a choice?
You might expect them, with the benefit of hindsight that you have, to have known all about the illegalities of the situation and the atrocities that were being committed, but is it really fair to have expected them to know that then?
And yes, they could have dodged it, but again, do you think that at the age of eighteen these kids, because I don't call them 'men' yet at that age, even have the ability to have known or foreseen what they'd be asked to do?
And didn't a lot of them come back and blow some whistles about what exactly happened over there?
It's my impression, I may be wrong because I don't know anyone personally who served and I was a school-aged child at the time, but I did read the paper and watch the news and it's my impression that most of the men who came back from that war were disgustedly vocal about what went on over there.
Is that not true?
I mean, look - I'd never be a soldier. Because I would never be capable of killing anyone for any reason with any sort of forethought. If I walked in on someone raping my daughter - yeah - I'd be able to kill the mother fucker - but if someone asked me to put myself in a situation where it was very likely I'd have to kill another person I didn't know simply because they lived on a piece of land that was under dispute - NO!
But other people do not have the luxury of making that choice. A young friend of my son's joined the army straight out of highschool and was sent to Iraq. Takama joined because he was a smart kid who had no family support, wanted to go to music school and was recruited by the military men who came to the school I taught in to entice people by dangling the promise of tuition credit.
The huge majority of the kids I saw joining were kids who couldn't afford to do anything else and had no way to support themselves once they turned eighteen. Sad but true.
Luckily, Takama came back alive - but he will never be the same.
What do you think he should have known or done?