Vietnam Stories: The sacred violence of war

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 01:03:08 PM. I have been moved by the heartfelt personal stories of the Vietnam War shared by many readers of the Monitor over the past few months. I found Ken Burns’s documentary on this war and his discussion of its deep-rooted effect on our generation riveting....
I have been moved by the heartfelt personal stories of the Vietnam War shared by many readers of the Monitor over the past few months. I found Ken Burns’s documentary on this war and his discussion of its deep-rooted effect on our generation riveting. This year, I read James Wright’s (recent Dartmouth College president and history professor) account of the war in his book Enduring Vietnam. These recent experiences have brought to light once more the formative impact this era had on me. The Vietnam War changed my life forever. I was stationed at the old Mary Hitchcock Hospital as an orderly in the emergency room during those years. I saw a lot of blood, but it was not the blood of fellow soldiers in combat. I carried bedpans and dirty laundry, not a rifle. My leader was a Vietnam veteran, a tough, strong-willed, selfless nurse who was devoted to her work. We knew that our feelings about war differed, but she made it clear that those sentiments would never come between us while we were caring for a patient. One night, a young Vietnam vet came into our ER “dead on arrival” having hanged himself in his family’s Vermont barn. Sighing deeply, I heard her murmur, “I thought I had seen the last of young soldiers dying when I left Vietnam.” As I looked closer, my heart ached to see her fighting back tears. Several of my high school football teammates died in Vietnam. One of my best friends, Jimmy, survived combat, but returned with only one leg. Short and skinny, he had proudly...Read more
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