A traveling exhibit that is an 80 percent sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. It made a stop, this past summer, near Olympia and we went to take a look. It's a rather moving experience looking at the 58,310 names of men and women killed or missing during the Vietnam war.
Seeing the many names clustered in the time period I was there, I started doing some digging to figure out how many were killed during the year I was in country that spanned parts of 1968-1969. 12,973 were killed during the 12 month period. That's 22.3 percent of the 58,193 Americans killed there during the twenty years from 1955-1975. After figuring this out, I feel even more lucky, especially as an infantry officer, to have made it out alive.
Having said that, the one enduring truth that comes from my experience is the one we all know but may sometimes forget. Simply put, war is a hellish business. There is nothing romantic about it. The aim is death and destruction. Whether you've experienced war firsthand or not, try to watch “The Vietnam War” a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Besides showing the brutality of that conflict, it shows the politics involved in getting the USA involved there and the pressures that kept us there in spite of the lunacy of that course. It's a brilliant piece of work on that conflict and spans 18 hours spread out over ten episodes on public television in the USA. No matter how much you may know about Vietnam and the war, you will learn a lot from this wonderful documentary.
I came across an interesting statistic the other day:
American deaths in all the wars from 1775-2017: 1.2 million.
American deaths from firearms from 1968-2015: 1.53 million.
I think that speaks volumes about American values. We don't like long wars but, we love guns no matter the carnage they may bring.
It's Veteran's Day in the USA. My sincere respect to all veterans everywhere.