The Aftermath of War

Gas masks used in the U.S./Vietnam War in the 1960s

Gas masks used in the U.S./Vietnam War in the 1960s

Vietnam was always high on my list of places to visit. As far as I can remember, my father had always talked about the Vietnam War. He was drafted just after he and my mother married at the age of twenty and nineteen. They married so young in hopes that my dad wouldn’t receive that dreaded letter. But he did. And so, at such a tender age, my dad embarked on a long boat journey to Vietnam to defend his country. Or so he thought.

I don’t like thinking about what he went through, what he saw, or what he experienced. I am lucky enough that my father has never had a problem talking about the war. One that, in his perspective, was based on complete and utter bullshit. And I agree. There was no reason for the U.S. to go help Southern Vietnam during the country’s civil war. Except for the whole rubber issue. There is always a financial reason for a country to go into war. Generosity, at such a scale, is only given for expected (manifest) rewards.

The truth of the matter is, most of the men who fought in the Vietnam War didn’t want to be there. Maybe some did, but it wouldn’t be called a “draft” if people were willingly signing up. This was not the case. And so, as I went through The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which is most definitely skewed from an Anti-American point of view, one museum piece after another hung heavy on my heart. I came across this display of gas masks that the American soldiers used when spraying Agent Orange. My dad says he doesn’t remember anyone wearing these masks when the planes would spray the fields with the defoliant. Americans at battle were just as exposed to this chemical as the Vietnamese were.

It’s hard to tell what really happened in the Vietnam War. Everyone has their own perspective. The only truth is that what went down wasn’t right. Nothing that happens during war is.

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