Archive for Vietnam War

Memorial Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 4, 2010 by eldorado90

Patriotism and Politics
On this most sacred of federal holidays, Memorial Day, we take time to honor “The Fallen” of
all of our wars. It is a day set aside to pay tribute to those who had made “ The Supreme
Sacrifice”, not to recreate or shop.
In May of 1868, General John Logan, General of the Grand Army of the Republic, placed
flowers at the graves of both Union and confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. As
one would expect, this act was not without controversy. By 1890, this ceremony was followed by
all Northern states, but met with resistance from the Southern states. Whatever would we do if
we could not politicize things of this nature? Memorial Day was not to be about division, but
rather reconciliation.
For many a year to follow, May 30 was recognized as “Decoration Day.” In 1971 Congress
passed the National Holiday Act, bringing us the three-day weekend and the out door barbecue.
My point here is not to give a history lesson, but to discuss “Patriotism” and what exactly do we
believe constitutes it.
On this day, a most sacred day for us combat veterans, I involuntarily revisit the past. Years ago,
in Vietnam, 1966 to be exact, a dear friend of mine, a Sergeant Bishop and I engaged in a heated
argument over which of the two of us were more patriotic; Bishop, a volunteer or myself, a
draftee. What a stupid argument. Not only was it a dumb thing to argue about but also to make it
even more ridiculous was the fact that we had it out in the jungle for all of mankind, animals,
insects, snakes, God, and the VC to hear.
Since those days of old, Bishop and I have shared many a laugh in regard to said argument. As a
draftee, I obviously was the true patriot. After all, I could have gotten a deferment or gone to
Canada. I didn’t, I was there in the Nam. How much more patriotic than that can you get? He on
the other hand wanted to be there. Temporary insanity I guess. Case closed.
I KID! Honestly. How ridiculous of a conclusion could that be? Which brings me to my point.
The things I see and hear by the politicians and pundits on television and radio lead me to believe
that some of these people think they have a lock on the true definition of patriotism. This is
nothing more than pure politics and stupidity and to that I say “BS”.
Patriotism should be measured by a different yardstick than anything imperical. It is too
complicated and emotional of an issue emotional to defined in a simplistic term. Inevitably
patriotism becomes a political issue.
Those who served prison time for their anti-war beliefs were as patriotic as any one who got a
questionable medical or student deferment. I would argue that they were even more patriotic.
They believed that to participate in war was wrong for America and were willing to pay a price
for it. Many a citizen in the Vietnam-era thought of them as cowards. How could that be more
cowardly than a self-serving deferment on the guise of an asthmatic condition or another year of
school? You hear what I’m saying?
On a certain day in Vietnam, as Bishop and I lay there ducking hostile machine-gun fire, we
shared a laugh about that patriotism argument that we had. We concluded that we were both
patriotic, or stupid, or maybe both.
So in conclusion, I’d say that patriotism comes in many a form. Obviously not every one who
received a deferment for whatever reason was trying to beat the system, though many were.
Patriotism can be and is expressed in many ways. No one has a lock on patriotism or its
definition. I doubt that many of those who’ve made the “Supreme Sacrifice” gave a damn about
what we nowadays refer to as red America or a blue America or for that matter, a South
America. They died for America period. That’s it, be it in vain or not.
Beware of charlatans who define patriotism in a simplistic way. Let us not politicize this issue or
be so quick to judge. God bless them all.
Duke Barrett