Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Did I fight for your freedom?

As having served as an Infantryman in Vietnam in 1969, I have often wondered if some people actually do feel that I (we) fought for their freedom. Sometimes I wonder if I think that. Since there are many who don't believe that, I ask this question to only those who are open to the possibility that I (we) did fight for your freedom. You may be free to watch whatever you want on television but you are not free to tell your neighbor what to watch. I take that back, you are free to tell your neighbor what to watch on TV and they are free to ignore you. I think that is more accurate.

For the sake of argument, I'll direct my original question to those who maintain the approximate belief that freedom is the proclamation of liberty, individual sovereignty, self-determination, inalienable rights, equality of opportunity, justice under the rule of law and human dignity for all, derived from God and guaranteed through constitutional republican government of the people, by the people and for the people - all for the purpose of enabling us to find individual and collective happiness (summed up as the "American Spirit").
My answer to the question of did I (we) fight for "your" freedom are "Not exactly" and "Probably".

Not exactly because when I joined the Army in February of 1969, I didn't even know where Vietnam was let alone have any single opinion regarding our presence there. And some folks would smirk and say, we shouldn't even have been there, it was politically motivated, our freedom wasn't threatened, etc. I knew that we had soldiers in Vietnam but I felt unaffected by that as how, at the point in my life, it had no meaning to me. My joining the Army had nothing to do with protecting my or your freedom. I did it for the adventure of it. No, not the adventure of going to Vietnam, just the adventure of being in the Army. Going to Vietnam was by chance (if not inevitable). So no, I didn't really fight for anyone's freedom.

But then again, I probably did.

Let's say that you live in an apartment which is the 5th building from the corner. You hear your next door neighbor, a fireman, running out of his apartment screaming that the house on the corner is on fire. By the time that he gets to the corner, the fire has reached the 2nd house from the corner. He applies his fire fighting skills to the max and by the time he puts out the fire, the 3rd house from the corner, as well as the first and second, lay in ruins. The 4th building from the corner was slightly scorched. The 5th, yours, was saved.

Did you neighbor fight to protect your property? Maybe. Did he put his life on the line to save the folks in the house on the corner? Maybe. If you ask him, he may say that he was just doing his job but for all you know, he's a pyromaniac and gets off being involved with fire! Who knows? And then again, who cares about the reason that he did what he did. In this case you would agree that his actions had something to do with your apartment not burning and you'd be grateful for his actions.

But what if you lived in the house that was 20th from the corner, or even the 50th from the corner. You probably wouldn't feel the same because you never felt that your house was in eminent danger. As a matter of fact, you might not have even noticed that there was a fire down the street. It's too far away for you to feel the danger. It was too far away to affect how you live.

But if the fire had gone unchecked, and no one intervened, and the wind was just right, the fire would have reached your house. But by that time, it would be a raging inferno that would have very likely claimed your home as another fallen victim. But it didn't, did it?

So, the question is, did that fireman save your house? Maybe.

Did the Vietnam Veteran fight for and defend your freedom? Yes, I know, your house is the 50th from the corner, but believe me, the answer is, "Probably".

The world is much to complex for me to fully understand what goes on and who's involved and how it all fits together, who's lying and who's being truthful so I can't honestly say that "YES, WE DID FIGHT FOR YOUR FREEDOM".

But I do know what was in our hearts.


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