Viet Nam (From A Mother's Point Of View)

For those of us who served in Viet Nam, one of the most difficult times was when we first arrived in country. The uncertainty of a foreign country and of course, the fact that we had been plucked from the cities, towns and countrysides of America at 18 or 19 years of age and dropped into the rice paddies or the jungles of a Southeast Asian country that most of us would never have heard of had it not been for the war that was suddenly raging all around us.

The first few hours after landing in Viet Nam were very nerve racking. We weren't sure if the enemy was lurking behind every latrine, or jeep on the compound or if he was somewhere lying in wait until we were issued our weapon and sent out across the strange looking countryside to find him.

That feeling of uncertainty never really went away as long as we remained in "Charlie's Country". However, once we reached our assigned unit and began our daily routine, some things became a little more familiar and we relaxed at least a little.

It was natural that we viewed the war from our own perspective. We soon learned about the dangers of booby traps, land mines, ambushes and trip wires. We also had some good times drinking warm beer, strumming an old guitar that had seen better days and talking about recent experiences where we had cheated death at least for the time being.

Somehow I think it was almost easier being in the war than sending a young son to the war. As I talk with my own Mother some thirty years after Viet Nam, I realize just how hard it must have been on our Mothers and Fathers. That uncertainty that we felt when that jet touched down in Viet Nam, was the same feeling that stayed with our families the whole time we were off fighting the war.

I now have sons of my own and can only imagine what it would be like to say goodbye to them as they boarded an airplane headed for war. It's true that the brave men and women who fought and died in Viet Nam were never really welcomed back to America with the same respect and gratitude that had been afforded veterans of other wars. However, there is another group of brave men and women who also lived and died without the recognition that they deserve. The Mothers and Fathers who raised their sons and daughters to respect their country and the rights of others enough that they would be willing to risk their own life to take up their cause.

My Mother only recently told me of how she often cried herself to sleep at night wondering if she would ever see her teenage son again. This was her second time to lose sleep and spend her waking hours worrying. She had said goodbye to her young husband as he sailed off to Europe and Africa for three years during world war two.

So, here's to you Mom and the thousands of other Mothers and Fathers who aged several years in that one awful year that their children spent in the war called Viet Nam. Some parents gave the ultimate sacrifice. Some saw their child return with problems caused by the trauma of war that will haunt them until the day they die.

There were no winners in this war. Everyone lost something. But for the men and women who were brave enough to go and fight, and the Mothers and Fathers who were brave enough to watch them go, You are what America is all about. Salute!

Ron Allen - Tacoma, Washington

More By Ron Allen

The Three Amigos
Forgotten Heroes

Some Other Pages On My site

For The Future
The Man On The Bus
Tet Offensive Jan.'68
One Day in Nam (for Chuck)

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