by Marc Cullison [mcullison.com]
My second book, “The Other Vietnam War”, was released for publication on May 12, 2015. A number of folks ordered it on that first day, more since then. I’m glad, not for the royalties that I will receive, but because my story will be read by these people. They will then be able to judge my part in the war and what it might mean to them. Others might see themselves in the story and either come to terms with their own ghosts or reject the book as just so much hoopla.
Hell, everyone by now knows the war was not popular and riots and protests proliferated during its conduct. I can’t blame the participants for what they did. They thought the war was wrong and they fought back with the tool that was within their reach. Other people supported the war and that is what gives me such discomfort about it all. Why would one support something that they knew so little about? The politicians were not honest with the public. So how were folks to know? They were duped, tricked, brainwashed. The sad thing is that that’s the way it’s always been. And that’s the way it has been since. We, as the American public, are seldom told the entire truth.
So why did I stay in ROTC? Why did I sign up for flight school? Why did I want a commission as an officer in the United States Army? I was raised to believe in authority. My parents taught me that I was to respect it. As parents, they made the rules and enforced them. As a son, I followed them. That’s all there was to it. It worked quite well for our family. I was taught that some folks have to be charged with controlling the bad things that people sometimes do. If they didn’t, who would? To me, the law of the land was the authority. You obeyed the law. That’s what made it all work. When the draft became an issue, I did my part and played by the rules.
I figured that when I graduated from college, my deferment would be lifted and I would be fair game for the military. I don’t know how many folks that were drafted were actually sent to Vietnam at the time, but I could see the writing on the wall. I decided if I was likely to go anyway, why not go the way I wanted to?
And there you have it. I was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation and proceed to officer’s basic training at Fort Belvoir, VA. Then I went to rotary wing aviator’s school at Camp Wolters, TX, then on to advanced training at Fort Rucker, AL. Then it was on to Vietnam.
Because of that decision, I had become a part of America. A part of the country. I had a stake in it. A vested interest in its success. I had made a sacrifice. My family had made a sacrifice, namely, me. All of my family was part of it and we cared about what happened over there. We were patriots, true to the sense of the word.
Now days, look around you and try to notice how many signs of patriotism you see. How many people actually have a stake in this country? How many people are making sacrifices for this country? How many people have a vested interest in this country? How many people would actually fight to defend it?
I have to tell you, I don’t think there are many folks out there who would give a damn about doing anything to defend this country. They’re too busy making money and enjoying their immediate gratification. Entertainment and leisure are more important to them than the country that makes it all possible. They take it for granted along with their freedom and liberties that someone else fought for. When you look at the current state of the military there is only a small core of people who provide for our freedom. And they do it over and over because there are few new ones to take their places. Gone are the days when the public as a whole had to provide a family member to do that. No longer do people feel any obligation to their country. They no longer have a stake in it because they have contributed nothing to it. There are others to make that sacrifice. They only reap the benefits and leave it to others to make that all possible for them to do.
When I stop to think about what it was I actually fought for, I am at a loss to know exactly what it was, because few of the people I fought for really don’t give a damn that I did. So I fought for my country. What has everyone else done for it? If you are a veteran, you can be proud of your American heritage and the fact that you made a contribution to your country. If you’re not a veteran, I can only hope that you respect the veterans who have made that contribution to their country; and to you.