Vietnam documentary cuts deep | AspenTimes.com

Vietnam documentary cuts deep

I cried this morning.

At 5 a.m., tears gathered in my eyes, tears collected in my throat, my chest constricted, and I had to get up from the couch, numb and simultaneously aching, and put the documentary I was watching on hold, and walk around my home in the predawn, thin light of morning that wrapped uncomfortably tight around my memories.

Sick inside my soul, I stumbled around, heading nowhere but back in time, tormented by recollections of the war in Vietnam, by apparitions of friends who died there, died senseless deaths, but now walked around with me this morning in a cold room. I shivered, not from the chill, but from the chilling images of that war, the faces and voices of lying politicians, dissembling generals, screaming soldiers, distraught mothers and fathers and siblings, and by the horrors wrought by truth denied and history ignored.

I remembered my mother was anxious but proud when I joined the Marine Corps in 1967. And I remembered my father, who was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, and at the battles of Midway and Guadalcanal, and received the Silver Star for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States — I remembered when he took me out on the back porch after I returned from Marine Platoon Leadership Class in Quantico, Virginia, put his hands on my shoulders, stared into my face and called me a "dumb son of bitch" because he abhorred the war in Vietnam and knew I would die there.

I did die in Vietnam, but not until I began watching Ken Burns' episodic Vietnam War series on PBS, which is secular scripture the whole world should absorb. Everyone should die in Burns' Vietnam, die a metaphorical death, and then live a life that's prudently skeptical of every pronouncement from every politician, every general and every zealot who rants and threatens and waves the flag of righteousness as they self-servingly define it.

Greg Lewis

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