This last flight symbolizes the uncertainty of war and brings to light the question, “who protects those who stay behind to ensure safety?” The Vietnam War was not a war of necessity, but rather it was a war of choice. A choice that caused over 58,000 Americans to lose their lives and over 150,000 wounded. There is no telling with certainty how many Vietnamese were casualties of this war as well.
As a nation not only do we not recognize Vietnam on a level that we should, but we have repeated that same mistake with the occupation of Afghanistan today. Thousands of men, women, and civilians have lost their lives in what is now the longest war in American history at almost 13 years. Plans to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014 are circulating and we can only hope that it will go smoothly and that our soldiers will return home safely.
To this day not many people know about what actually happened in Vietnam except for those who have experienced it, with the exception of a few who have shared their experiences through books, interviews, and stories. The available technology to the American people as well as deployed soldiers today is one of the main reasons we are so in tune with what is happening and the struggles that our returning men and women face. Video chat, modern postage, packages, and phone calls have allowed for a more open line of communication between military and civilian life. This was not available 40 years ago and because of that veterans of Vietnam kept their experiences to themselves and locked them away so that their loved ones wouldn’t have to experience what they did. What these men didn’t understand was that this courtesy they afforded others was keeping them from getting the recognition and the help that they deserved.
Unfortunately, we cannot change the past but we can learn from it. Vietnam was an unheard lesson that if heeded may have had an effect on our current state in the war in Afghanistan. When that last plane left Saigon, the war faded in the minds of many Americans. Because of this there is a lack of respect and knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the war as well as the war itself. When we finally pull out of Afghanistan one can only hope that history will not repeat itself and that we will learn from what we now know.