The soldiers that fought in the Vietnam War had to endure many incredibly horrifying experiences. It was these events that led to great human emotions. It was those feelings that were the things they carried. Everything they carried affected on them whether it was physical or mental. Every thing they carried could in one-way or another cause them to emotionally or physically break down. Pain, loss, a sense of safety and fear were probably the most challenging emotional, and psychological feelings for them to carry.
Pain: one of the most crippling emotions that the human can experience. Pain is caused in many ways. There is emotional pain and physical pain. The soldiers of the Vietnam War felt both of these types of pain during their one year trip in Vietnam and had to carry this emotion with them. The pain that was felt on the body was created by all of the literal things that the soldiers carried. The most important of these physical objects were the numerous weapons, explosives and ammunition cartages that had to be carried at all times:
Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs… …and two or three canteens of water. Together, these items weighed between 12 and 18 pounds. They all carried steel helmets that weighed 5 pounds. On their feet they carried jungle boots—2.1 pounds. (O’Brien 2)
In this example, after many hours of carrying these supplies the soldiers would start to break down physically. Fatigue and muscle pain would start to cloud their vision and judgment. The weight of the things that they carried had devastating effects on their bodies but the soldiers had to endure. All of these supplies were the most significant to the soldiers because they were the most important to their survival. Every single soldier had to carry these supplies with them at all times. These objects were the key factor that triggered this physical pain, which they had to carry both literally, and emotionally. All of the soldiers needed to keep going in order to survive the war. These soldiers also had to endure emotional pain from the things that they carried, and this emotion had to be carried with them adding of to the previous pain caused by the physical things that the soldiers carried. Numerous things could cause the emotional pain that they carried. A common pain that soldiers felt was the pain of one of their friends dying. In many cases this pain would never leave the soldier. Some soldiers had to carry this emotion for the rest of their lives. This can be seen in “The Things They Carried” when Tim talks about Kiowa and Curt Lemon:
I'm forty-three years old, and a writer now, and the war has been over for a long while. Much of it is hard to remember. I sit at this typewriter and stare through my words and watch Kiowa sinking into the deep muck of a shit field, or Curt Lemon hanging in pieces from a tree, and as I write about these things, the remembering is turned into a kind of rehappening. Kiowa...