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The other Greatest Generation
By Chris Davis
On May 28, 2004, we dedicated a World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coasties. As Tom Brokaw wrote about the men and women serving during those years, he referred to them as the "Greatest Generation." I often think about the fine soldiers that served during World War II and about my grandfather who served in the Army Air Corps. I often wonder about what it took to serve in such a historic time when so many people counted on the United States of America to help secure blessings of liberty to Europe and the world.
I think it took innumerable courage to fight in a conflict where so many lives were lost for liberty's sake alone. I think it took strength, honor, and dignity to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during that great five-year period. They branded America with the pride to say "Made in the USA." Then, my thoughts drift to my father, serving during the Vietnam War. I think of how the war was described as a complete and utter failure during my school years, and I wonder how my father did it. How did he serve during such a scarred period in U.S. History? I know it was with honor, dignity, and courage. Just like the "Greatest Generation" served during World War II, and just like the men and women in Korea served with distinction.
On August 2, 1964, three North Vietnamese PT boats allegedly fired torpedoes at the USS Maddox, a destroyer located in the international waters of the Tonkin Gulf. This would begin the Vietnam War. It would begin President Lyndon Johnson's mishandling of the war. In December of 1964, my father-along with the rest of the Fifth Special Forces landed in Cam Rahn Bay as "advisors" to the South Vietnamese in the fight against communism. It was that simple. They were sent over there to train and help the Vietnamese resist the advancement of communism in Southeast Asia. It was the belief of the administration that by fighting this war we could stop the spread of communism, leaving it in China and Russia. The mistake of the Vietnam War fell into many parts. But the biggest mistake began in the White House under a liberal administration and President Johnson. This administration thought it was best to micromanage every little aspect of the war.
So, in 1965, the 1st Air Cavalry Division deployed to Vietnam and fought in the first conventional battle of the war in the Ia Drang Valley. These men and women, just like the "Greatest Generation," went to serve their country and liberate an oppressed people under the communistic regime of Ho Chi Minh. These men fought off an enemy that was more than capable of handling themselves against intruders in their homeland. The Vietnamese had successfully defended their country against French invasion in the 1950's and were confident. The battle of Ia Drang was an utter success despite the heavy casualties, despite the men that sacrificed their lives willingly to crush tyranny, and despite the negative media connotations about involvement in Vietnam. The 1st Air Cavalry Division made America proud. Americans just weren't allowed to know it.
In 1966, America began bombing North Vietnam to cut off supplies coming in from Laos. That same year, the first protests began against the war. Some of these protestors were the men and women of the "Greatest Generation." These "Greatest Generation" veterans, along with the media, began the cries that Vietnam wasn't a real war. They tried to impugn the reasons for deploying American servicemen and women to Southeast Asia. And yet, the American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines in Vietnam served with dignity, honor, and distinction. They still made America proud, whether the media would report it or not.
The Vietnam War was beginning to really heat up. In 1967, Operation Cedar Falls began. The U.S. Armed Forces uncovered a massive system of underground tunnels in the Iron Triangle. The outstanding men and women serving in this war were starting to break North Vietnam and communism. Of course, the old media still wouldn't report the accomplishments that were occurring on a day to day basis in Vietnam. As far as Americans knew, this was the wrong war at the wrong time. The old media had been left unchallenged in their warped view of the world. That same year, Dow Chemical, makers of napalm, was banned from the University of Wisconsin campus. They weren't allowed to recruit student to come and work for them. The root of liberalism was beginning to grow throughout the United States with the willing accomplices in the media.
In 1968, the Viet Cong launched the Tet Offensive. This was an absolute failure, even though there were heavy casualties to our American sons and daughters, fighting in an honorable war at an honorable time. The Viet Cong took massive amounts of casualties in their effort. It ended the Viet Cong's reign in Vietnam and forced North Vietnam to seek aid from China and conduct the guerilla warfare that the Viet Cong had been so successful in doing in the past. Unfortunately-going unchallenged-CBS, NBC, and ABC didn't see the battle that way. They reported the outcome of the battle as one of a failure, as a battle that showed the end of the war was no longer near. Nothing was further from the truth. But the protests continued and the media kept hammering away at the fine men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Students across America began to form protests, women burned their bras, and liberalism had taken hold on campuses everywhere. Young liberals burned their draft cards, fled to Canada, and chanted, "Hell no. We won't go!" With glee in their eyes, CBS, NBC, and ABC covered these warped individuals on a day to day basis. They reported the protestors vigorously as if to imply that the mainstream of America didn't support the war in Vietnam. In their liberal fervor, they crammed liberalism down the throats of the Americans. And to make matters worse in 1969, news of the My Lai massacre reached America. There were silent celebrations in newsrooms everywhere as reason to pull out of the war in Vietnam. The media began to plant the seed that there was some kind of failed morality in Vietnam. They tried to paint our military as drug addicts and one without morals. The political winds began to blow against the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces while they still served honorably in the fight against communism. The fine soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coasties fought more than just a war on communism. They fought an ideology as well. They returned home to chants of "baby killers." They came back to an incensed media, a group of Americans that wished ill will on our servicemen and women, nevertheless, they served with honor, dignity, and courage in the right war at the right time.
In 1970, Henry Kissinger and Le Duc begin secret talks to end the war in Vietnam. In America, John Kerry and Jane Fonda begin to spew their communist hatred against America and the men and women of our Armed Forces, while appearing together in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. That same year the New York Times, going unchallenged, publishes the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsburg, increasing the liberal hatred of the fine men and women of our military and the U.S. Government. Liberalism was steam rolling the traditional values accepted by a majority of Americans. It was creating the belief that this was the new truth in America. And it would get worse.
In 1971, John Kerry was part of the group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, on which he testified to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations against the very same men and women he served with in Vietnam. In part of his testimony, he states, "They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese or American." If that was true, then my question becomes: Why did so many Vietnamese wish to escape Vietnam during the withdrawal of our troops? They didn't want to live under a tyrannical regime. It's common knowledge that freedom is a God given right, and that people throughout the world wish to live in a free country. That's why our men and women of the U.S. military served in Vietnam. They were attempting to fee an oppressed people.
Liberals like John Kerry and Jane Fonda didn't understand the basic concept of communism or freedom, because of their ignorance of human understanding. In their veined effort to end the war in Vietnam, they each made trips, meeting with the North Vietnamese and laughing at the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coasties of America. In their traitorous efforts, they attempted to imply that Vietnam was a useless war that cost the lives of men and women in vein. With the help of the mainstream media, the unaware of America joined the bashing of our men and women. But they still served honorably in the right war at the right time. Men like John O'Neil's testimony on Meet the Press went largely ignored by Americans with the help of the unchallenged mainstream media. Somehow, liberalism had managed to subvert a war that America was winning. And very few Americans knew it.
The slow withdrawal of our troops continued as the Vietnam War wound down. The men and women of the Vietnam War served honorably. Their cause was just. The fight against the spread of communism did work. If it weren't for that war, communism would've continued to go unchallenged across Southeast Asia. The Vietnam War was a success until traitors like John Kerry and Jane Fonda came forward to keep communism alive. North Vietnam was ready to capitulate as testified by POW's returning from the war years later. This became a lesson learned in later years as President Ronald Reagan broke the back of the Soviet Union in destruction of communism. Only a small few communist nations remain: China, North Korea, Cuba, and Vietnam. In this failed ideology, they remain poverty sticken nations, nations that require aid from the United Nations to keep assure their survival in the world.
As I've learned, without help from my liberal educators, the Vietnam War was a pivotal point in history. It changed the way we fought communism. It embodied an American spirit to stand up for repressed people once again, and foiled communism in the years to come. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guard that served in that war served honorably. They served with dignity and courage like their predecessors in World War II and Korea. They lay a model for defeating communism in the world. They came home to spit on their faces and to chants of "murderers." They didn't come home to parades or salutations of congratulations. No one shook their hand, except maybe their loved ones, or invited them to speak in public. They were scorned because of liberalism and a partisan mainstream media. The media that are allowed their free speech by their service. This media forgot some and abandoned most. John Kerry and Jane Fonda stabbed them in the back, but they survived.
They came home and integrated into society. They became doctors and lawyers, carpenters, truck drivers, and business owners. Some suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but married and raised a new generation of American. A generation that grew up to history books that touted the failures of the Vietnam War, raised by Americans that fought communism, liberalism, and the mainstream media. They survived and were successful in their future endeavors. Their sons and daughters are proud of America. They believed in their cause and in Vietnam. They love their mothers and fathers, and our grateful for their service in the fight against communism. In their children's eyes, they have become heroes to America. For waging a war against two ideologies and becoming successful, contributing Americans, they have become great Americans. And for standing up to a man-when their country needed them again-that should've been tried as a traitor and for sedition, they have become the "Greatest Generation."
This is Chris Davis' first contribution to Enter Stage Right. (c) 2004.
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