Following my post on the “Vietnam Veteran” bumper sticker yesterday, I was reminded of my bitterness against those who denigrated the troops who risked their lives in defense of our country in Vietnam. I’m still angry about those who spat on us and called us butchers and baby killers. I’m more persuaded than ever that my anger is justified.
But my antagonism doesn’t extend to those who opposed our involvement in Vietnam. I agreed with those who maintained that we never should have gotten into the war in the first place, defending the French colonialists against the Vietnamese who wanted freedom and independence for their country. And I respected the arguments of those who maintained that we should not have been sacrificing our young men by the thousands to prop up a South Vietnamese government not chosen by the people. As I watched more and more deaths, I was inclined to agree.
Where the general will in the U.S. and I parted company was at the end of the war. Americans were so anxious to put Vietnam behind them that they ended our participation militarily, then went on to withdraw aid, delivering a death sentence to South Vietnam. I was among the few Americans still in Saigon when the North Vietnamese captured the city. Because of American cowardice, we abandoned many thousands of South Vietnamese. The North Vietnamese killed and imprisoned them. I still mourn the many I knew.
As I have written here before, we Americans show a dangerous inability to learn from our mistakes. We have deserted our faithful allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, leaving them to the mercies of our enemies. What does it take for Americans to learn that it is dishonorable to forsake those who have fought by our side?