The Same Differences of War By Anthony Rodas
The tragedies of war will never change; it will always stay. The statistics have shown that the war ends when all the people that were involved in that war die. As we see now and then, war always changes in the world, but it never changes in the heart. My Grandpa is a Vietnam Veteran and has many stories about the 60’s and the war forgotten.
He once told me a story of a friend of his, dying in an explosives attack. It was such a painful story for him to tell because he was a very good friend. And he was there with him through some very tough times. Soldiers now days make their army friends feel like a family, like they did back then. And when someone dies, they all help each other cope with the pain. My Grandpa, Grandma and the rest of my family went to Washington D.C. for an army reunion. All of my family and my Grandpa’s army buddies sat around a table, looking at pictures and talking about the battles and vehicles they drove. All of us visited “The Wall” the next day and we found his friend’s name on the wall. As we scanned through the names, I couldn’t help but feel a deep, cold, empty space boring deeper down into my soul. The reflection of myself on the black stone wall made me realize the message of it. The only way to feel what it is like is to stand in front of the wall and read the names. My Grandpa found the name of his friend on the wall. I read the name “Ronald McCoy” and my Grandpa’s eyes showed signs of despair. I can only imagine the thoughts running through his head.
As I watch the news on CNN, NBC or ABC, every so often I see the stories of returning soldiers and the men and women that come home to a large group of their families and bands that come to meet them on the runway. My Grandpa told me about how he was coming home after he had been shot. On the bus he had crackers thrown at him by young men with long hair. They thought all the soldiers were murderers, but it wasn’t their choice to fight. The draft didn’t discriminate. “We tried not to wear our army clothes on the way home. But for some people that was all they had to wear home” he told me. They didn’t know the true horrors of being there, having to do the things they did. Most of them didn’t call the Army; the Army called them.
In the cities and villages that lay inside the country of Vietnam, there were Viet Cong soldiers that would give hand grenades to small children and older men. And they told them about the United States soldiers so they would try to kill them. There was a story about a man that was riding in a convoy outside the city of Saigon, when they were shot at by ten year old boys not even able to properly hold a gun. One man was wounded from a stray bullet. That’s what made that war so confusing. They didn’t know who or where the enemy could be. They were always on the edge, waiting and anticipating the next ambush or attack. In a book I was reading on the battles of Afghanistan, there was a story about a group of Special Forces soldiers that helped defend a village they were trying to gain the trust of, to help them find the enemy that was in the area. As they entered the village, a boy jumped out from behind a wall and shot up into the air, dropped his gun and ran away. Later, the leader of the group of soldiers asked the leader of the village why that young man shot at them. He said, “The Taliban came into the villages and threatened the fathers and husbands in my village to shoot and attack US soldiers or they would murder their families.”
The strength of a nation relies on the hope of the people living within it. If the people do not have a feeling of hope for something they don’t believe in, the nation will not move forward with what the leaders want it to. Like now and in the 60’s, our nation is tired of war. We pay for the war with tax money we may never see again. When we finally pull our troops out of the Middle East, we can start healing.
Below is a photo taken when we were all in Washington DC in 2010 for one of Roger’s Army Reunions.