Cultural differences are found between every generation. Every child has different things that they grow up idolizing. But for many children of the 80’s there was a certain mystic and awe that went with the Vietnam War.
The 80’s brought to life shows about heroes and survivors of the Vietnam War. Magnum, P.I. brought to life a Navy intelligence officer, who had been in a special forces unit. Chuck Norris’s movies M.I.A. brought a character locked away in a prison camp who found the courage to break free. The author Craig Johnson brings to life a Special Forces officer, that carries one of the mythical Special Forces Tomahawks, to life in the Longmire book series in Henry Standing Bear.
Children of the 80’s could go to Army Surplus Stores and get Vietnam surplus equipment. In the Netflix series, Stranger Things shows the mystique as one boy shows off his pride in his “genuine Vietnam” items. But what about all of the people that opposed the war? I don’t think they ever left, but the war ended so they no longer had anything to protest.
In 1992, Alice and Chains released their album Dirt. This album contained one song that was very close and personal to Jerry Cantrell, Rooster. In this song, Cantrell attempted to capture what the Vietnam War was like for his father.
He and his family had left his father when he was young. The song was his way of processing what happened to his father in the war, something that his father didn’t talk about. Cantrell was trying to capture his father’s emotional and mental state at the time of the war. The song brought Cantrell and his father closer, because he had touched his father on a deep emotional level.
The Vietnam War left a lot of scars on the country, but Hollywood’s promoting it’s heroes was good for the American culture. But during the war the treatment of the military personal by civilians was deplorable.
People spat at them and mistreated them. These were men that were following orders of leaders. They were told to not travel in the U.S. in their uniforms, to use civilian clothing, to avoid being hazed by the public. Whereas the military personal of other wars were treated respect with their uniforms on.
Some of these personal went to hell and back, but for what? To return home and be treated like a third class citizen? That’s where Hollywood stepped in to promote and immortalize the the heroism of these men who were afraid to show their colors.
As is normal for Hollywood liberalism, movies such as Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now took things to a strange and often untrue level. But movies like Rambo, MIA showed a different side. A side of the mental torture and physical torture some of the people suffered. Shows like the A-Team and Magnum, P.I. showed that they were not bad people. But Rambo and the A-Team did show that some were not easily assimilating back into the day-to-day life.
Vietnam pushed military personal to their breaking point, some made it past and some didn’t. A lot of people died, because of the war but that does not mean that we should hate the people that were tasked with serving. These people were exposed to things such as Agent Orange and traumatic experiences that you and I will never know.
The Vietnam War led to studies of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and many other mental disorders. These veterans have helped to forward psychiatric fields.
I think that it’s important that we remember Vietnam Veterans and all people in any service. These are people who have chosen to sacrifice themselves, so that you and I have our basic freedoms and the safety to do it in. Most of these people are/were following orders and did not make the decisions, but most importantly how you treat them will be something that will forever effect their lives.
Many Vietnam Veterans will talk about the disrespect they received from people when they returned home. This disrespect is still alive today with how many younger generations treat law enforcement, military personal, and fire fighters. I think that these people deserve our respect, because they would willingly give their lives for ours.