Mythical Powers of a Memorial Wall

America, like other countries, surrounds itself with myths about the founding and reasons for wars, all the better to control the population and justify government actions, explains Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

Walls (here we mean monolithic structures that are not part of buildings) seem to hold a special fascination for many people. Some walls feed a tribal passion, a strong us-versus-them mentality. The apartheid wall produced by the Israeli government, as well as the wall envisioned by the Trump administration for the southern U.S. border, are of that type.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

However, there are other kinds of walls, such as those that memorialize the dead. For instance, in Washington, D.C., there is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall. This wall (actually two walls that meet at a ninety degree angle) is roughly 494 feet long and is inscribed with the names of 58,318 servicemen and women killed or missing in that war.

Just by way of comparison, one might ask how long would be a similar memorial to the approximately three million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed in the same war. It would have to be about 51 times larger, extending over 25,000 feet. That is about 4.7 miles long.

Of course, nations do not commemorate the dead of their adversaries, for to do so would call into question the value of their own citizens’ sacrifices. And sacrifice – indeed patriotic sacrifice – is certainly how most Americans would describe the deaths of those whose names appear on this wall.

As one veteran who visits the site often put it, “We lost all those wonderful kids. It’s very moving to see all names at once, all the sacrifice, the enormity of it.”

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall is immensely popular – for the relatives and friends of the dead it memorializes are still well represented among the living. More than three million visitors a year (about the same number as Vietnamese dead!) visit the wall in Washington. To this we can add the fact that, for the last 13 years, there has been a portable replica of the wall traveling about the country.

The fact that this replica will soon show up in a town not far from where I live has led me to consider the various ways the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, be it stationary or mobile, can be contextualized.

Patriotic Sacrifice?

The problem with the assertion that all of those 58,318 dead servicemen and women performed some sort of patriotic sacrifice is that it is, at least in good part, ahistorical. In other words, the claim doesn’t fit the facts very well, though it does fit the prevailing official storyline.

Air Force F-105s bomb a target in the southern panhandle of North Vietnam on June 14, 1966. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)”

(1) The official story is that the Vietnam War was all about containing the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. Communist North Vietnam supposedly wanted to conquer “democratic” South Vietnam in order to spread its Communist ideology, and if successful, this conquest would trigger a “domino” effect that would result in most of Southeast Asia becoming Communist. To save millions of people from this fate, the United States sent all “those wonderful kids” to war.

(2) A contrasting account, one that has much more of a factual foundation, is that North Vietnam and South Vietnam were really one country and the latter existed only as an artificial creation of French imperialism (France controlled Vietnam from the 1880s through to 1954). The main motivation of the North Vietnamese in fighting the United States was to achieve national unification.

That made their leader, Ho Chi Minh, first and foremost a Vietnamese patriot. His Communist ideology was a secondary factor in the eyes of most of his fellow Vietnamese (the small Catholic minority in the south being an exception). By the way, Ho had only become a Communist after World War I because the Soviet Union was the only powerful nation willing to help him in his struggle against French colonial occupation.

Finally, the OSS/CIA came up with a National Intelligence Estimate as early as 1945 that predicted the difficulties of fighting in Vietnam, and also remarked on the popularity of Ho Chi Minh as a founding father figure in all parts of the country. This estimate was rejected by the political leadership in Washington. Why so?

After World War II, the worldview in Washington was dominated by a strident anti-Communist outlook that blinded American leaders to all “Third World” nationalist impulses. Whether it was in Ho’s Vietnam, Nasser’s Egypt or Castro’s Cuba, among many others, the alleged drive of Communism for world domination was assumed to be lurking somewhere behind the scenes.

There are other motivations that came into play in Washington by the mid-1960s. The Democratic Party was in control of the White House, and there was fear that if Democrats did not take a stand in South Vietnam, the Republicans would relentlessly accuse them of weakness, and “losing Vietnam,” as earlier Democrats had allegedly “lost China” to Communism.

All of this led ultimately to the purposeful exaggeration of the August 1964 naval incident in the Gulf of Tonkin. During this episode a U.S. destroyer fired warning shots at nearby North Vietnamese gunboats. This incident was misleadingly described by President Lyndon Johnson to Congress as an attack by the gunboats on a U.S. ship, and it led to Congress passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution allowing the President to deploy conventional forces in “defense” of South Vietnam.

We can now ask ourselves which of these two storylines supports the claim of patriotic sacrifice? Obviously it is the first one. If the Vietnam War was all about halting the spread of a totalitarian ideology and preventing the destruction of a democratic system of government held dear by the U.S., then friends and relatives of those inscribed on the Memorial wall, as well as those who survived the war, can feel a certain pride and carry on the belief that all the sacrifices were not in vain.

Victimization, Anyone?

However, as suggested above, that emotionally satisfying explanation is not the historically most accurate one. The evidence more strongly suggests that those U.S. servicemen and women were sent to their deaths because ideologically and politically driven American leaders refused to see what was happening in Vietnam as a national effort at reunification – an effort which, if accurately portrayed to the American people, may have caused a widespread reluctance to go to war.

Photos of victims of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam galvanized public awareness about the barbarity of the war. (Photo taken by U. S. Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle)

National leaders were so blinded by their anti-Communism that they (not for the last time) refused to accept accurate intelligence reports that contradicted their own tragic groupthink.

Under these circumstances all those patriotic dead soldiers become victims – victims of a powerful ideological conviction. But it is not the ideology coming out of Hanoi that killed them. It was the ideology coming out of Washington that transformed patriotic sacrifice into victimization. And, as victims, the American dead stand on the same plane with the roughly three million Vietnamese who perished in the same conflict. They were all victims of ideology.

All cultures have their patriotic stories – stories about founders, heroes, how the nation is special, and so forth. The first and foremost criterion for such stories is not that they be historically accurate, but rather that they be celebratory in a patriotic and public fashion.

Belief in such stories is part of the glue that holds societies together, and so they are learned and reinforced in multiple ways from childhood on. Soon the sanctity of the idols and causes presented in the stories become the stuff of faith and, unless a culture is on the verge of collapse, extremely difficult to widely call into question.

As part of this context, all soldiers serve in good causes, and those who die do likewise. That is why, here in the United States, people now go around saying “thank you for your service” – it is like a mantra – to soldiers and veterans, even though they have no idea what the service is or was really all about.

And what about the few people who somehow become “social mistakes”? That is, those who no longer believe in the emotionally reassuring stories? Well, some of us write blogs and then go fishing, others try to push their points within the political and media arenas, and many may ultimately give in to alienation and a sort of socio-political melancholy.

Whichever way it goes, it is the fate of such people to always be outnumbered, not only by the patriots, but also by the dead.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. He blogs at www.tothepointanalyses.com.

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31 comments for “Mythical Powers of a Memorial Wall

  1. J. D.
    July 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Ironically, the defeat of the US in Vietnam was followed neither by the predicted “bloodbath,” nor the domino effect on SE Asia. Rather, Vietnam has become a hip place for American tourists and wasagressively wooed by the Obama administration to join its TPP and in other ways join an anti-China alliance. The old bugaboo about “godless communism” has proven also to be simply a ruse as the 24/7 hysteria about the “Russian threat,” is worse than at any time since the McCarthy era against a nation that today is neither godless nor communist.

    • Sam F
      July 5, 2017 at 7:25 pm

      Good point that the translation of “Communist Threat” into “Russia Threat” after communism admits the lie.

    • cmack
      July 6, 2017 at 9:10 am

      vietnam had to kill vast numbers of it’s population to acheive the place it holds today.

      don’t be fooled. just cuz the us shouldn’t have been there in the first place(or french imperialism) doesn’t mean that communist regimes are loving unicorn fields.

  2. Donna Bubb
    July 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Terrifically real truth that the war dead and many of those who have survived deeply share with the “social mistakes”.

  3. Realist
    July 5, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Sacrifice? More like a complete waste.

    That war is what revealed the true motives of our hegemonic government to a generation of kids raised in the aftermath of WWII.

    • Peter Loeb
      July 7, 2017 at 7:01 am

      LAWRENCE DAVIDSON’S OVERVIEW…

      This article by Professor Davidson is an all-too-brief capsule
      view of American responses. References and a bibliography
      are quite out of place here.

      Personally, I cringe when I hear again and again public
      rhetoric repeating how heroic Americans sacrificed to defend
      “our freedoms”. Similar declarations are required of each
      and every politician or public servant. The style differs.The
      substance is the same.

      Fugitive slaves in the 19th century favored the British in their
      attack on the US in 1812. Freedom was an escape (it was thought)
      from US oppression. Neither did Native Americans in
      North America appreciate being massacred, dispossessed.

      Instead of commenting on individual points in Davidson’s article,
      I would urge readers to pursue not only the unlearned (by the US)
      “lessons of Vietnam” but the roots of current hate throughout
      our history.

      —–Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  4. July 5, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    A sobering account of a great American fiasco that should give pause for reflection to those that promote the drumbeat of war in the MidEast. The fact that our leaders were unable to distinguish between the nationalist movement of Ho Chi Minh and the totalitarian regime of North Korea forebodes the current visionless foreign policy regarding the perceived threat of Iran/ Assad and the real threat of militant Islam.

    • Brad Owen
      July 5, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Ho Chi Minh was our ally in WWII in our common fight against the Japanese Empire. But FDR’s anti-colonialism stance was abandoned upon his death, when the anglophile “American Tories” took over the intelligence community from OSS people loyal to FDRs anti-colonial post-war vision, and turned about, “on a dime”, to push anti-communism instead (thus alienating our WWII Soviet allies), and allow The British, Dutch and French Empires to re-take their colonies, as an anti-communist effort. The overt effort failed, sparking the John Perkins style of “economic hitman” takeover, relying on native dictators and police forces (another sort of colonial “Tory”) to do most of the job for Imperial, trans-national corporations.

      • Bob Van Noy
        July 5, 2017 at 3:03 pm

        I think Brad that you’re quite right and, in the “complexity” of that, is the the assassination of President Kennedy and the subsequent chaos.

      • July 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

        Thanks for the backgrounder, Brad…not much history gets taught in the corporate think tanks.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 5, 2017 at 10:05 pm

        FDR’s death, and Truman’s ascension in to the Oval Office is like a weathervane in our modern day history’s ever changing and blowing winds. Please continue, if you wish Brad, because this history regarding FDR’s anti-colonialism is important to hear. When peace seeking political debate in America is starved for talking points, we should look back to what FDR and Henry Wallace had to say. Winston Churchill and Harry Truman selfishly stool that early post WWII end of empires moment away from the public thought processes, and by replacing it with hate and war, we humans have been sufffering with the results of their actions forever since. Up to 2001 there was no better example of the horrific outcomes that were to occur from what Truman did more so than what happened in Vietnam, that was until today, as we Americans are to look upon our nations continual wars as has followed since 9/11/2001. Actually, maybe move that date back to ‘Desert Storm’ 1991, but then again who’s counting?

        I like hearing this FDR history Brad, keep posting from time to time Joe

    • Sam F
      July 5, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      NK was indeed a factor in the US self-deception on the intent of NV, but in fact the NK situation is also falsely portrayed in the US. Less information is available.

      NK was also an anti-colonial struggle, much more bitter in expelling the Japanese than the NV effort to expel the French. NK also had no supporters but Stalin. China entered later fearing US invasion of Manchuria, then their industrial center.

      In both cases, the US military and diplomatic personnel simply chose sides with the middle class, the former local managers for the colonial power, because they were easier to understand and talk to than masses of desperately poor peasants. There was no thought of assisting an anti-colonial revolution like that of the US in 1776, even when Ho explicitly made the comparison.

      In NK, the US foolishly decided to demand a separate SK allied with itself as the “democracy” run by US-appointed dictators, ignoring the decades-long bloody struggles of Koreans against Japan with USSR assistance. And so the great Korean divide arose from sheer US thoughtlessness and lack of concern for anyone else’s history, culture, sacrifices, and preferences. It was no doubt especially easy for Republicans to see the peasant rebellion that only Communists had assisted, as the great rabble that their oligarchy pretends to fear, needing the “guidance” toward “democracy” of an appointed dictator. Someday they would all be middle class, and only then would Republicans trust the rich among them form an oligarchy to fake up a democracy.

      When the US was forced back to the old N/S border by China, it killed roughly 2 million innocents by fire-bombing NK villages. For some reason they haven’t forgotten that. Not surprising that they would refuse to negotiate, or that they would rely upon deterrence with nuclear weapons.

      It is hard to distinguish “totalitarianism” from the extreme self-defensive posture the US forces upon poor socialist states fighting the US for survival.

      • Chucky LeRoi
        July 6, 2017 at 6:05 am

        “There was no thought of assisting an anti-colonial revolution like that of the US in 1776, even when Ho explicitly made the comparison.”

        In an undergrad American History class towards the end of this war, the professor was energetically explaining why we were the “champion chumps of all time”. Included in this was the fact that Ho was an avid reader of Thomas Paine, and as the leaders of this war seem to fail to acknowledge this, they were doomed to failure. Ho had learned how to beat us by that earlier example: you can lose the battle(s) and still win the war.

  5. mike k
    July 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    To call this essential basis of war and militarism a myth, and add that all cultures have these stories, is a whitewash in my opinion. These instigations and justifications for psychotic mayhem are lies and evil propaganda. Let’s call things by their true names. These lies are not an incidental feature of the war process, they are it’s very backbone and necessary cause. Those who lie to instigate a fight are criminally responsible for what results. For instance, the MSM conspire to instigate war and should be fully responsible for these crimes.

    • Sam F
      July 6, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      Yes, the mass media should be accountable for severe political imbalance and its effects, and ideally prevented from such imbalances.

      Not only do we need constitutional amendments restricting funding of mass media and elections to limited individual contributions, we must regulate mass media corporations to ensure balance in all functional areas and operational levels, with continuous investigation and whistleblower cooperation to detect serious political imbalances. That does not imply any regulatory organization sufficient to effect content control, and in fact would eliminate the media influence now effected by oligarchy and government. Mass media should include internet search engines, mass marketing operations, etc.

      Small media would not be affected. Mass media might be interlinked media groups with a total of more than perhaps ten or twenty percent of the audience in any geographic or subject area over a certain size.

  6. Drew Hunkins
    July 5, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    This September Ken Burns and PBS will be showing their most ambitious and expensive production in PBS history, a mini-series entitled, “The Vietnam War.”

    I’ll be extremely curious to see how jingoistic this turns out to be. Will it admit what really happened? Namely, that Washington invaded Vietnam? Will it interview, say, Noam Chomsky, one of the greatest independent intellectuals, scholars and commentators to speak and write about Washington’s invasion and Holocaust against the Vietnamese people? Will Noam Chomsky and other dissident intellectuals be given more than two minutes?

    If this extravagant documentary mini-series — which is getting all sorts of media hype already — hews pretty much to the establishment line you can expect it’ll be lauded in all the “respectable” and “important” venues out there We’ll read and hear about it incessantly on NPR, WaPo and the Times. Obviously if it actually dares to speak the truth, it’ll be either ignored or disparaged and denounced by all the mainstream channels.

    • historicus
      July 5, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      Burns’ much-hailed civil war documentary was flawed in the eyes of many students of the conflict, including myself and fellow antiquarians of my acquaintance in New England. We were also repeatedly vexed by seeing familiar photos and engravings incorrectly captioned. Perhaps it’s a small thing that a tintype from 1872 is represented as a Civil War image, but it suggests a disrespect for the rules of historiography that one would not expect in a renowned documentarian.

      The narrative, while acknowledging the role of slavery at the start, soon fell into an all-too familiar pattern of civil war reminiscence, the personal stories of brave soldiers fighting for their respective causes. The story devolved into repeating the comforting notion that the war was a family conflict among white men over “different visions of liberty”, reflecting an unfortunate reverence for the mythic Lost Cause narrative. One side fought for democracy, albeit as imperfectly as it was practiced in the free states, while its opposition was pure oligarchy, a ferocious aristocracy of wealth preserved intact from the 17th century in the slave states. And the widespread popular resistance and its draconian suppression in both regions are simply ignored.

      PBS did a much better, five-part Civil War series in the Eighties, called “The Divided Union.” It hasn’t been released on DVD but may be viewed on Youtube.

      • Drew Hunkins
        July 5, 2017 at 9:37 pm

        Thanks for the very interesting and insightful commentary.

        I should add to my original post that a sensational docu film on the Vietnam War came out circa 1977 called “Hearts and Minds.” I have a hard time thinking Burnsie’s new big budget docu can top it.

        Thanks again for the fascinating points you brought up in your post.

  7. Joe Wallace
    July 5, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    J. William Fulbright, the longest serving chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, forcefully argues in “The Arrogance of Power,” that in the post World War II period, whenever U.S. foreign policy confronted a choice between supporting nationalism (as in Vietnam) or opposing Communism, the U.S. invariably made the wrong choice and opposed Communism. That’s why some 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam.

    • Sam F
      July 5, 2017 at 8:01 pm

      Yes, and that is why 6 million innocents were killed by the US in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Korea. and Indonesia.
      No serious policy analysis was involved, just groupthink, cultivated fears, lies, propaganda, and assumptions.
      No serious study of the regional problems, possibilities, potential policies, or alternative means was ever made.
      It was the most expensive and stupidest possible way to learn fundamental foreign policy lessons, that were instead deliberately buried. Because, of course, the US oligarchy has no intention of doing justice anywhere.

  8. Joe Tedesky
    July 5, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    Here is an article describing how the Pentagon has power over Hollywood. Although we all know this, this article is a result of uncovering 4000 documents which were revealed under the FOIA. Read how Hulk had a rewrite over a Vietnam word usage.

    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/exclusive-documents-expose-direct-us-military-intelligence-influence-on-1-800-movies-and-tv-shows-36433107c307

    Other than that, if you have Netflix watch ‘War Machine’ starring Brad Pitt. Although the movie uses fictional character names, the movie was based on Michael Hasting’s book ‘the Collectors’. This movie puts visual action to the life and actions of Stanley McChrystal, and be sure to watch until the very last and final scene, because that last scene says it all.

  9. incontinent reader
    July 6, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Unfortunately, our media and educational system feed us fabricated news and manufactured history to perpetuate the myths and influence the perceptions and predilections of both the next generation of our leaders, and the public generally- and I wouldn’t be surprised if Professor Davidson has felt pressure at times from his administrators, and seen too many of his colleagues cave in and teach the accepted line to keep their jobs and ‘get ahead’ in their careers.

  10. Gary Hare
    July 6, 2017 at 3:15 am

    I agree with Sam F about the similarities between the Korean and Vietnamese experiences. The “scorched earth” policy adopted in Korea left millions of non-combatant peasants in Korea either dead, or in deplorable circumstances. The natural leader, who fought the Japanese, deserved to lead post-war Korea, but was thwarted by the colonialists, US and Britain, at the UN. Of course they remember , of course they distrust the West.
    The damage via Agent Orange and Napalm, and unexploded ordnance, still ruins lives in Vietnam today.
    Rogue state? Who else is better suited to wear this crown, but the exceptional and indispensable US of A.

  11. Descartes
    July 6, 2017 at 5:00 am

    Recommended lecture: The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchmann from 1984

  12. E. Leete
    July 6, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Nobody should ever speak of USAmericans in Vietnam without pointing to this:

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/rape-wartime-vietnam/

    (**fair warning before reading – it could be seriously triggering to survivors of abuse)

    Militarism is psychopathology full stop

  13. Seer
    July 6, 2017 at 5:58 am

    I believe it was Bertrand Russell who commented on the notion of two opposing peoples’ (ideological) righteousness in pursuing war. An awkward paraphrase of it is as follows:

    God is looking down on two opposing armies as they approach on the battle field, both proclaiming that “God” was on their side. “Good god,” says God, “I’ve got my work cut out for me!”

    Smedley Bulter: War is a racket

    If one wants to really mess with the heads of the “anti-communist” types one need only ask why it should even be bothered to embark on such wars and expenses to battle a bad ideology. After all, bad systems cannot succeed (nature proves this).

    H.L. Menken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

  14. mike k
    July 6, 2017 at 7:09 am

    We need a large, well funded Department of Peace in the US Government. Defunding of the War Department (mistakenly named Defense Dept.) should accompany this reorganization. As of now, we have our priorities completely wrong.

  15. July 6, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    I am among those Americans who found themselves plucked from our homes and found ourselves dodging bullets in Viet Nam. The “Containment of Communism” theme never rang true to me and, as it turns out, was surprisingly less perverse and disconnected from reality than the real reason. Containment of Communism was window dressing for a far more lunatic American policy wonk fascination with the “geopolitics” of Sir Halford John Mackinder, as amended during World War II by Nicholas Spykman, that attached mythical importance to the Eurasian area as the center of a “world island.” And in my view, it was Ho Chi Minh’s alignment with the government that occupied Eurasia — as opposed to that government’s “Communist” leanings — that impelled the U.S. foreign policy wonks to war in Viet Nam. I’ve addressed this issue at some length with supporting references on my blog. https://relativelyfreepress.blogspot.com/2015/03/us-russia-and-ukraine-heartland.html

    That is not to say that the Containment of Communism theme had no utility beyond sheltering the lunacy in the State Department from public scrutiny. After all, it provided powerful persuasive force with the American oligarchs who abhorred communism and gave a superficially plausible reason for young men to risk their lives in wars that could scarcely be otherwise justified. But that theme needs to be recognized as a cover story for an absurd geostrategy.

  16. July 6, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Those closely following issues with North Korea should not miss this post from April 27 by B at Moon of Alabama: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/04/from-war-on-korea-to-abu-graibh-how-us-bio-weapons-led-to-torture.html

  17. HpO
    July 7, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    What “ideology”, though, Lawrence Davidson, in your reference to “ideologically … driven American leaders”; or to the “powerful ideological conviction … coming out of Washington”? I know you didn’t mean to but your writing actually convinces me they really don’t have one, because they only talk about their enemies’ ideology but never their own. They make up stuffs about their enemies’ ideology, but never get around to admitting what their own is. It’s as if they really don’t have an ideology of their own to speak of in the first place or in the final analysis.

    I’ll show you what I mean, for argument’s sake. For instance:

    (1) By DECEITFULLY CLAIMING that “Communist North Vietnam … wanted … to spread its Communist ideology … that would result in most of Southeast Asia becoming Communist”, these “American leaders” are doing the total opposite of HONESTLY PRO-CLAIMING their own ideology to the American public and the rest of the world.

    (2) By SPREADING RUMORS of war that “the spread of a totalitarian ideology” from North Vietnam won’t stop until “the destruction of a democratic system of government held dear by the U.S.” has been accomplished, these “American leaders” have no need to REASSURE the American public and the rest of the world that theirs obviously exists as a non-totalitarian ideology.

    Bottomline: For “American leaders” to be lying to the public about the enemies’ ideology without ever needing to reveal their own ideology because they really don’t have one, that means “American leaders” are all born-liars. Not morally superior counter-ideologists. Just primal, brutish liars. And so, because of their lies – not ideology which never existed – “three million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians” and “58,318 servicemen and women” from the U.S. got “killed or missing in that war” in Vietnam; and “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” got built, then visited by “three million visitors a year”.

    Kind of makes you believe in Satan, doesn’t it? “The Father of Lies”, to quote The Truth, Christ Jesus.

  18. Tom W
    July 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

    When people find out about my army tour of duty in Nam in 1968 some thank me for my service. I get embarrassed. As a draftee I didn’t want to go over. While serving I did my job but could see the futility of it. While in Nam I supported Bobby Kennedy hoping he would end the war. I was devastated when he was assassinated. Over the years I have taught my students about Vietnam and how we should have avoided it. The lies about the Gulf of Tonkin, the failures of the strategy. The destruction of a beautiful country and its people. We were not perfect but neither were the Communists. Both sides did horrible things. War is hell. Vietnam is not perfect today but they seem to have recovered from the war’s destruction, and for that I am glad. My true sadness is that the lessons our current political leaders should have learned from Vietnam so they could have avoided Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria have never been learned. Instead each generation of political leaders believe the false idea that they and they alone can win wars that are in fact unwinnable. As today’s wars are unwinnable so to was Vietnam. In the end the Communists succeeded and we failed. Nine years of fighting for what? The Wall should be a monument to our nations failure in thinking we could win in Vietnam and a reminder never to repeat the stupidity again. It is so true that doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is insanity.

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