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The Impact Of The Vietnam War
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The Impact Of the Vietnam War

My war was the Korean War but I followed what I could of the news from Vietnam. My wife did not want newscast blasting into our living room about the war with our little children listening with their big ears. I was in graduate school in the early stages of the war and I didn't know what the impact of the Vietnam War would be.

I remember President Kennedy coming to town and I took my young son down to see him riding in his open convertible south on State Street in Salt Lake City. Later I took my son home and went back in the evening to listen to the President in the Tabernacle. I remember the young president saying on television that he didn't support the current regime in Vietnam. I told my that he probably placed a death sentence on the leader, Diem, or at least he would be booted out of office. I remember I was against sending troops there other than advisers. But if the United States sends in advisers, troops may follow.

I had just read a book about the assassination of a German officer during WWII. With the low buildings on State Street, it would have been an easy shot if there were a sniper on top of the buildings. Later, when the President was in his convertible by the Brigham Young monument in one big traffic jam, the security people honking their horns to get the traffic moving, I thought how easy it would be for an assassin to drop a grenade in his car. When I got home, I expressed my concerns to my wife. I said he should have had that plastic bubble over his head. I was not impressed by the President's security.

I remember Jackie in the Tabernacle in her pink suit and that wierd pink hat. I remember her being in that same outfit, at least I was sure it was the same outfit, when Johnson was sworn in as President in Dallas. I remember that shooting and how sick I felt when my worst thoughts on a possible assassination were fulfilled. It was one horrible day for America. But you must remember that my feelings came from just having read that book. I was not a prophet.

I was teaching engineering at Iowa State University when the protest against the war were amplified. I remember that horrible era in American History when hippies plagued the freeway restrooms with filth. It was not a happy time. No mater what our military did in Vietnam, it was protested in the States. One ex-marine, one of my employees, said they had the Vietcong beaten but the protest at home changed the path of the war. I had bad dreams about that war. I could see Soviet bombers like our B-52s dropping tons of bombs on the United States of America.

One of the sad things about the war was what happened to the veterans when they got home. They were called "murderers" and they were spat on. Many had trauma from the war and this form of greeting was not helpful. We were not spat on or called murderers when we came home from Korea. We were just ignored. "Oh, have you been away?" They don't call Korea the "forgotten war" for nothing.

The impact of the Vietnam was that many thousands were killed in that war unnecessarily. It was supposed to be justified with the same reason we went into Korea. We wanted to stop communistic aggression. No one I knew in Korea was fighting for his country. I knew who I was fighting for, it was the people of South Korea. I have been back on business and there I was treated with great respect.

I remember walking over that war-torn land, looking at abandoned farms and homes, realizing that happy families were destroyed by the North Koreans and later the Chinese. One of the ROK solders who served in my platoon had lost is father and two brothers when Seoul was taken. He still had one brother who was taking care of his mother and his teenage sister. Then one day when I asked why this usually cheerful solder (Ree Tae Hee) was so sad, I learned his older brother who worked on the railroad had slipped and fell under the wheels of a train. That left a teenage girl along with her mother in Seoul amongst a large number of over-sexed GIs. When I got home I received a letter that Ree Tae Hee had been seriously wounded at the Iron Triangle.

As bad as things are here at home with folks out of work, trying to find a way to make a decent living, they are still not as bad as things are in war-torn lands.

When you look at Vietnam now, you wonder what the war was all about. The impact of the Vietnam War, like all wars, was devastation. But the human being somehow tolerates such wars and rebuild as if nothing ever happened. All that remains are monuments and parades.

Fly Old Glory!


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