St. Paul, MN, USA
I participated in a peace studies class this last year. All the students in the class had a relative who was in Vietnam. Without exception, none of the veterans would discuss the war or their participation at all.
I also hear people who lived through wars bemoaning the lack of information on the part of the young.
How do we resolve this? If vets won't talk about it, then the young will never know what happened. I was only five when Saigon fell, but I have a red armband commemorating a man who was shot down in a C-130 over Laos before I was born. I still check to see whether his body has yet been recovered. I know this and do this because I think it's important. But how can I pass this sense of responsibility to my students when discussions like this are few and far between? When we still refuse to acknowledge the massive toll warfare extorts from all members of society, then we will continue to be dissociated from our past. Unfortunately, this dissociation contributes to poor defense policymaking, as we arm ourselves to fight more unwinnable conflicts in faraway lands that will not actually ensure the dominion of democracy.
We don't even ask whether communism is really the problem any more. I think veterans probably have very different ideas about enforcing American ideals on other countries, and I'd like to hear more of what they have to say.