Ron Kovic Essay

714 words - 3 pages

What makes a Vietnam veteran different than any other? Why was Ron Kovic's return so much more agonizing than Homer Parrish's in The Best Years of Our Lives? Vietnam was not the "good war" that WWII was. Many Americans believed it was a war that should have never been fought, and the veterans became scapegoats.Many of the American men who went to Vietnam thought they were saviors and guardians of freedom (15). They had grown up with JFK speeches, John Wayne movies, Cold-War anti-communism. They had faith in their elders and American myths and the order of things (15). The war seemed a good thing--so much so that two-thirds of the men who served were volunteers (as opposed to only one third of the WWII service) (18). Many of those who volunteered did so because they regarded the draft as inevitable. Yet those who volunteered saw serving their country as a duty at the very least, and many went to fight communism: the threat to all that our nation was founded upon.Their experience in Vietnam jolted these notions. They were perceived as intruders and murderers, not heroes (15). They witnessed the corruption and cruelty of their superiors and saw arbitrary killing and torture. And despite the myths, fighting in Vietnam was intense. The average infantryman saw about 240 days of combat per year, as opposed to 40 days per 4 years in the South Pacific during WWII (18). Amputations and crippling wounds were 300% more common than in WWII (18). And for what? Vietnam veterans against the war swear they saw nothing in South Vietnam that threatened the USA (10). How could they not have questioned their role in Vietnam? They were disillusioned, and it was worse for those who had believed in the war to begin with (15).But the horror didn't stop when they left the front. The Cold War gung-ho attitude of Amerians had changed. The death, risk, and bravery of the soldiers was rendered meaningless because Vietnam was a "bad war" (15). As one returning vet said, "I didn't expect a hero's welcome. However I did expect a certain amount of respect...

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