It was December of 1970 and after eleven months I was as accustomed to Viet Nam as I was going to get. The 25thcame. A few guys said “Merry Christmas” but basically it was just another day.
Looking back, I’m glad there was no joyous celebration. We were occupying a country and causing massive death and destruction, so the stories and visuals of Christmas would have been hypocrisy. Peace on earth. Good will to all. That was not our mission.
I find it disturbing, especially at this time of year, when those in power use the young people in the military to pull on our heart strings to further their agenda. Everyone in the military is not a “hero”. The real heroes are those who seek to solve conflicts with dialogue vs. destruction. It takes great courage and ability to face your adversary with the tools of understanding and mutual respect. Violence is mindless – just pull a trigger or push a button.
The “evil ones” are not the people, or even the leaders, of Iran, Syria, N. Korea or whoever is the next U.S. target. The evil ones are the cowards within the U.S. who push for war, who push to send our young people to kill and destroy, while they plot to amass their fame and fortune.
I met Claude Anshin Thomas a few years ago. He was a door gunner in Viet Nam. In his book, “At Hell’s Gate”, he says, “Peace is not the absence of conflict; it’s the absence of violence within conflict.” This holiday season please think about that.