Pride and Service to Country
By Lance Johnson, author of What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A to Z
I am most proud of the thirty years I spent as a private and an officer in the National Guard, Army Reserves, and on active duty. Today, those serving in the armed forces are viewed by most as heroes, unlike five decades ago when, as a young 2nd Lt. just out of graduate school, my life was disrupted when I was called to active duty during Kennedy’s Berlin Activation. Assigned to a combat engineer unit in Vernal, Utah, before we were transferred to Ft. Lewis, Washington, I was walking outside the Vernal armory in my uniform and was made fun of by two ten year olds. It hurt, because I was giving up a year of my life for my country for them. But that was part of the culture back then, and it only intensified a few years later when the Vietnam War tore America apart and changed the face of Veteran’s Holiday, resulting in fewer military parades and ceremonies. Even ROTC programs were dropped from many colleges in the ensuing years. But recent wars have brought back the holiday’s popularity as a tribute to those serving and those who have fallen. It took three decades for the ’Nam pain to subside and a Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be built in D.C. with the names of 58,000 Americans killed in that senseless war.
My recent book “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z” talks about the futility of the war. Here’s a quote: “Vietnam War – There is not a better example of the tragic consequences of cultural misconceptions than the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 70s that bitterly divided Americans. The American movie, The Fog of War (2003), won an Academy Award for Best Documentary. In the film, Robert McNamara, the U.S. Secretary of Defense during the war and the architect of its buildup, meets with his North Vietnamese counterpart and they admit they misinterpreted each other’s motives. They concluded that the U.S. mistakenly viewed the North’s invasion of South Vietnam as a communist move to conquer all of Southeast Asia. We called this the Domino Theory in which country after country would fall like tumbling dominoes to the communists. His counterpart said it was nothing but a civil war, something the U.S. had gone through a hundred years prior. The war is yet another painful reminder of the consequences of not understanding each other’s culture. Perhaps your country has reminders of its misunderstandings, too.”
I visited Vietnam 12 years ago and was overwhelmed seeing hoards of people missing limbs and living and working in bullet ridden hovels, troubling reminders of the war. 40,000 had been killed by land mines since the war ended. However, they were most friendly toward Americans. As they simply explained it, the war was over. It finally is in America, too. Peace, and a big thank you to those in uniform today, especially young 2nd Lieutenants embarking on life’s journey who might be derided for serving their country.
~Johnson's What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z is available on Amazon worldwide and is now also available as an e-book from Kindle.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence. Find it at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1599240173/. Her novel, collection of creative nonfiction and much of her poetry is informed by interest in leading the world toward acceptance of one another. Find her web page dedicated to tolerance at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/tolerence_and_utah_links.htm. If your Twitter followers would be interested, please pass this on to them using this widget: