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calendar   Monday - May 30, 2005

So That Others Might Be Free, Part V

Hue, Vietnam - Tet Offensive, 1968

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The Tet Offensive was a series of battles in the Vietnam War. It was a major offensive by the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the National Liberation Front (NLF), commonly known as the Viet Cong, beginning on the night of January 30-31, 1968, Tết Nguyên Đán (the lunar new year day). It involved military action in most of the major cities in southern Vietnam and attacks on the US firebase at Khe Sanh. The attacks on Khe Sanh are usually considered separate from the actual Tet Offensive occurring at approximately the same time. The objective of the 1968 Tet Offensive was to take the Nationalist and the US armies by surprise since the North Vietnam’s government proposed a ceasefire for the celebration of the Lunar New Year.

The NLF and the NVA lost around 35,000 men killed, 60,000 wounded and 6,000 POWs. The US and ARVN dead totalled around 3,900 (1,100 US). US media reports of the battles shocked both the American public and its politicians. Apparently the depth of the US reaction surprised even the North Vietnamese leadership. The role of the US media in forming popular opinion about the results of the Tet Offensive has been most notably explored in Peter Braestrup’s book Big Story.

-- Wikipedia

The Misbegotten War, The Forgotten Heros

I graduated from high school in June of 1967. Like every other young man in those days, I had few choices. It was either get into college, join the National Guard or be drafted and sent to Vietnam (in my family, running away to Canada or claiming to be either homosexual or a conscientious objector were not options). I was lucky. A scholarship to the University Of Alabama kept me out of Vietnam, otherwise my family could never have afforded it. Others were not so lucky.

From the relative safety of my dorm room , I watched the protesters on the evening news, saw the carnage of the war, heard the reassurances from LBJ, Westmoreland and the other “powers that be” and tried to keep it all straight in my head. I also kept my head in my books and worried about all the friends and family I knew who were patrolling the jungles of Vietnam. I slowly began to hate the leftist, anti-war protesters as much as I hated the government they were protesting.

We had all begun to suspect there was something terribly wrong with that war. There is not enough room here to explain in detail all the things that went wrong both in Vietnam and on America’s streets and college campuses. There was mismanagement by our government, under Lyndon B. Johnson, lies from the top brass in the military, treasonous acts by Hollywood actresses, drug-fueled protests by leftist hippies all over the country (covered extensively by an increasingly liberal media) and .... caught in the middle were The Unlucky Few.

They didn’t ask for that war, they didn’t want to fight, they just did what they thought they had to do.

Others ran off to Canada, burned their draft cards, protested, chanted, marched and .... took it out on The Unlucky Few. Soldiers returning from Vietnam were treated horribly by a large number of Americans who felt their protests against the war should include protests against the soldiers.

These “others” lived in a virtual reality, all their own. Drugs played a large part in that scene. Self-righteous arrogance played an even bigger part. This great nation has yet to recover from their insanity. They are still blaming America for all the world’s ills, still living in a drug induced never-land of the mind, still spewing their hatred of the military.

And what happened to The Unlucky Few?

My father was one of The Unlucky Few. He died in 1978, after the war in Vietnam was finally concluded. Thirty years in the military and three tours in Vietnam. God rest his soul.

And the rest of them? Well, a grateful nation gave them a memorial. This nation dug a big hole in the ground and threw two huge black rocks in it in the shape of a “V”, then inscribed the names of all The Unlucky Few who had fought and died in that misbegotten war .... all 58, 253 of them. In my opinion, that just added insult to injury.

I take hope that today in America, there is a rebirth of common sense and pride in our country that is steadily growing. The majority of Americans are coming to realize that freedom is costly and any war should always be the last resort of an honest nation. Make no mistake, the current war on terror is justified .... by over 3,000 American lives that were lost on September 11, 2001. The problems in the Middle East have been festering for centuries. Our troops over there today will fight to help spread freedom and democracy. Some of them will die. So that we may live. In freedom.

I only hope and pray that one day our nation will allow the memory of those who died in Vietnam to climb out of that hole and shed the black rock they have been consigned to. When that happens, the people of this great nation may finally be forgiven by .... The Unlucky Few.

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Posted by The Skipper   United States  on 05/30/2005 at 06:00 AM   
Filed Under: • Military •  
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