This is a heart breaking subject for one, who has lived in Hanoi among Vietnamese who all lost family during what the Vietnamese call “The American War.” “Killed by the Americans”, they would answer with an expression of Buddhist equanimity on their faces upon inquiry during a festive annual dinner in their traditional custom of honoring of a deceased family member.
The U.S. government now makes nice with the same Vietnam communist dominated government presidents from Truman through Ford sought to destroy, seemingly oblivious to the incredible loss of life. America has come to respect the Vietnam it could not defeat, and could not cut in half.
That is why this writer, was jolted to read in the Jan. 23, 2008 Huffington Post article, Swiftboating, John Kerry’s insensitive references to, “the Swift Boats we loved while we were in uniform on the Mekong Delta" ... “the boats we honored when we were in uniform in Vietnam”.
These unthinking hurtful written remarks are especially sickening for those of us who, like Jane Fonda, were on the side of the Vietnamese who fought first the Japanese, then the French, and thereafter endured years of carpet and napalm bombing by the U.S. during their American crucifixion.
What is most appalling about Kerry’s slip of conscience, is that we have always supposed that given the memory of Kerry’s famous brave action saving his ship and the lives of his comrades by shooting to death a Viet patriot about to launch a rocket, that Kerry must have nightmares about that Viet soldier’s grieving family.
No, one guesses it is the John Kerry who thirty-five years later saluted the Vietnam Veterans, warriors who fought a near defenseless population in a poor Asian French colony of rice farmers, parading across the stage with large American flags to thunderous applause at the convention that would nominate him the Democratic presidential candidate? During his campaign, Kerry and commercial media made the 'Vietnam War' strangely heroic again.
With all the U.S. rapprochement in backing that same communist government for World Trade Organization membership, one wonders if Kerry ever try to contact the family of that Vietnamese patriot he shot to death in combat?
One wonders why Kerry would not be embarrassed to recall love for his swift boat. What of his memory that the crews of those boats participated in a war on the Vietnamese that Kerry testified to have been an atrocity?
Kerry reenlisted for a second tour of 'duty', but took discharge to run for Congress. Did he not know when he enlisted the first time, that Eisenhower had written in his book Mandate for Change in 1963, that if there had been an all Vietnam election (blocked by Ike himself), that Ho Chi Minh would have won by a plurality of more than 80%? Oddly enough Kerry would run in his election in part on his military service record in Vietnam fighting to prevent Ho Chi Minh from becoming elected president.
Why does Kerry now believe that he or any Vietnam vets 'served' their country by taking part in a war that killed Vietnamese in their own country, often enough in their own neighborhoods and homes as he deplored in his testimony at the time?
Kerry had a fine college education, which must have included a history of colonialism, which would have included the brutality of French colonial subjugation of the Vietnamese. He must have known that Ho Chi Minh was decorated by our OSS as a dedicated ally of ours against the Japanese and Vichy French. He must have known that Truman, against Roosevelt's promise, had brought the French army back in US ships to fight an 8-year war against our former allies, the Vietnamese. All this because Ho Chi Minh was a communist? A top cabinet minister of the U.S. allied French government was also a communist, but that was OK. Martin Luther King spoke of this history in his 1967 condemnation of U.S. imperialist wars.
Perhaps it useless to fault the mature John Kerry for a commonly held American attitude of disinterest in the suffering of families of the millions slaughtered in America’s mistaken and unwinnable wars and nostalgia for his stint in the Navy.
Recruiting our boys to go kill around the world is made easier for the ‘glory’ now associated with the massive killing of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians. ‘U.S. Big Brother’ media has turned the pre-1975 [shame] into [fame] in the new millennium. No more mention of the war having been ‘a terrible mistake’, and every single politician who ‘served’ in Vietnam is acclaimed as a hero!
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