Burns and Novick: The Vietnam War (8)

I’m glad I forced myself to watch the entire series on the Vietnam war again. It brought me face to face with my inglorious past. I observed so many others in the film who were, like me, permanently changed by what happened. We are damaged souls. But there is solace in seeing that I am not alone.

What the series didn’t emphasize was the healing that comes from pride. I, like some two and a half million others who served in Vietnam, put my life on the line for what I believed was the good the country. I was a volunteer, a civilian operating under cover, disguised as a soldier or Marine on the battlefield while really furnishing intelligence on the enemy. Nobody forced me to go. I could have said no. But I believed it was the right thing to do. I’ll always suffer from the wounds to my soul that those years inflicted on me. Only now, in the last quadrant of my life, can I judge the choices that the young man I was made. Now I believe they were the right choices. Now, at last, I can take pride in what I did for my country.

I’ve finished with the Burns-Novick The Vietnam War for now. I’ve learned once again from watching it. The series reminded me that I need to face my past head-on. I can never escape from it, and pushing into my unconscious doesn’t work. I’m a better man for what I did in Vietnam, and while the memories are the source of pain, I must own them. I have found an imperfect peace.

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