War is hell…anyway one looks at it. For every soldier that has fought, there has been the thought in the back of the mind…”Will I ever get out of this situation? Will I die here…and will my life have counted for something?” They listen to their commanders; do their duty; feel fear and sadness…and hope and pray for the best.
Yes in all the wars, some have turned their backs on country and comrades.. running away from a situation…with only their tortured thoughts to live with for the rest of their lives. Others can be proud that they faced each obstacle whenever and from wherever it came. They marched into the unknown to rescue their own. They faced the enemy not knowing if it would be their last day. Many gave their all and we must not forget them.
As the 4th of July is approaching, we think of liberty and what it means.
Every now and then I find an old movie that is worth watching. This was the case when I turned to Born on the 4th of July starring a young Tom Cruise. It is a violent movie with nudity and the worst of language, but a gripping reality of the Vietnam War and all that the young men went through, especially after they came home. Cruise stretches his acting ability to the limit in this dramatization of a patriotic young man who loses it all in the horrors of battle. It is a realistic look at what the families go through in coping with the aftermath of the veteran’s home-coming.
A line in the film that stood out to me was when this young Marine cried to his father about his condition, asking ” Who will love me?”
Not unlike the young men coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, he felt he was half a man because he was now paralyzed from the waist down with no hope of walking or having a family. War is raw…crude…and real.
It is hopeful that our military, who stayed the course and did their duty, will have the proper home-coming. Vividly portrayed, the Vietnam vet continued to deteriorate emotionally with flash backs. To add to the insults, the crowds spit on them and jeered at them, even during the 4th of July parades. Politics had changed in the U.S. about the war even while the men were away fighting.
Many of these men signed up to fight communism before it took over the world. They bled for what they thought was the enemy to our country’s future. Torn apart, physically and emotionally, there seemed to be no future. The Vietnam vet often turned to drugs and alcohol for relief. Broken in spirit, the question remains, “Who is going to love me?”
For anyone facing a devastating situation, there is only One who gives that unconditional love.
” For God so loved the World that He gave His only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This film reminds me that if I see an older man with long hair, somewhat shabby … in a wheelchair…or walking the streets with the homeless, it may be a Marine who once served proudly. They came back to an embittered country and never got over it. Other Vietnam vets returned to live productive lives, but never received the thanks due to them until more recently.
Living with a tortured mind is a difficult thing. One evening, when my children were young, my front door flew open and a man yelled in the door, ” Is Charlie here?!” He slammed the door and disappeared into the night. He did not seem to see that we were sitting there. I am sure that this man, who was living out a previous war… thousands of miles away at another time. (“Charlie” originates from the abbreviation VC for “Vietcong.” In the NATO phonetic alphabet, used in radio transmissions, the words for V and C are “Victor” and “Charlie”. Victor Charlie for the Vietcong was soon shortened to Charlie.)
Our sons and daughters have given much in all the wars that America has fought. Who will love them and care for them in their time of healing and need for excellent care? It is a simple question that needs answering. Another question is “Who in military command and the U.S. government will be honest and as well as loving and comforting to the families of those who were flown home for their funerals?” Often the family simply wants to know how their son or daughter died and was everything done possible to save them? It is the least that can be given to them in their grief.