Imagine being drafted to the Vietnam War at 18 years old. You’ve finished high school and you’re off to go fight in the war. The American government makes you believe you can do anything and save many people. They encourage you to make you feel strong and capable to make a difference. They want you to feel proud of being in the military and fighting for your country. But is that all just an ideology, to believe it’s honorable to be in the military? People have a way of letting others and their emotions dictate their actions.
During the Vietnam War many soldier were faced with the choice to refuse the draft and run away or fight in a war and be honorable to their families. In Tim O’Brien’s essay “On a Rainy River” he reveals his issues about going to the Vietnam War. In the end his mind was made up on what he had to do. “I would go to war- I would kill and maybe die- because I was embarrassed not to” (Tim O’Brien). O’Brien had to do what was expected of him, he had to go to war. He felt he would be thought as a coward and he didn’t want to. He found himself being more embarrassed of not going than going to a war he didn’t support.
The film Hearts and Minds revealed many view points of soldiers about the Vietnam War. A prisoner of War Lt. George Coker said “One thing was faith, faith in my family, faith in my God, faith in my country”. Lt. Coker believed once he kept his faith in all he would be able to succeed in the war. He would be able to make it out alive. His quote shows how the importance of everyone in his life was. He kept his faith in others to make himself stronger. Also he was influenced by his coach in high school. He recalls his coach telling him “When the going gets tough, the tough get going because winners never quit and quitters never win”. He found himself trying harder and he could not give up because then he would disappoint those he knew. The soldiers fought this war with the intention to fight and kill, to do anything to win. The American soldiers had to be the ones to win the war.
“Bang! I dinged in on one of them and I nailed him. I felt good and I wanted more and it wasn’t that I wanted more for politics or anything like that no; I wouldn’t care if they were whatever. I just wanted them because they were the opposition, they were the enemy.” (Soldier Robert Muller) Many soldiers fought the war like this. I believe it was caused by the American government though. These soldiers grew up in school learning about they have to be the best and stop communism. They might feel they are just fighting and winning over the enemy but they have been broken to feel that way about anyone who isn’t following theirs or the American view points. Not only Soldier Muller took pride in is fighting. Former captain Randy Floyd shares his experience flying planes. “I was a good pilot; I had a lot of pride in my ability to fly.” He would fly the planes and then when the bombs would be released he was just amazed by the big explosions. “Put something in a can and blow up or blow up in the air, the excitement the sense of excitement is incredible.” Floyd felt he was just doing a job and he was an expert at flying. He would reach his point and let the people over the computers do the rest. He was thrilled by the explosions and didn’t realize of the effects at the time.
Many soldiers weren’t aware of what they were doing they just went on their mission and did their task. They thought they were doing great things for everyone. The ideology that the soldiers carry with them, they are proud of the destruction they cause. This is the most important ideology of the war. How the soldier think are important because they are the ones carrying out the task for the war. Now if they go on feeling proud of causing destruction everywhere that is a problem, they aren’t focusing on what the issues are they are just killing. That is why the Vietnam War was fought that way it was. No mercy just killing everyone and hurting innocent people and children.
After the war is when reality hit some of the soldiers. Soldier Muller was shot and he thought he was going to die. “My last conscious thought I can’t believe it I’m dying, I was dying and for what.” A soldier that during the war enjoyed the shooting and killing, now was faced with death and didn’t know what it was all for. Floyd realized how is flying and bomb harmed the citizens and children of Vietnam. He admits that these tragic bombings that their effects and results on the people never occurred to him. The destruction of what he was doing never dawned onto him. In his mind was the glory of being a good pilot and accomplishing his mission. Which s what the American military wanted. “When I look at my children now I don’t know what would happen and what I would think about?” (Randy Floyd) If he was in the place of the Vietnamese citizens he doesn’t know what he would do. I think many soldiers and Americans wouldn’t know what to do either. There hasn’t been a war fought on American land and they have not had to live with the destruction war causes. At least they realized their actions at the end of the war, so they will be able to make a difference in future wars. Don’t let the same ideologies of honoring your family make you fight a battle you don’t believe in. Or letting your pride block out the truth to what you are actually doing.