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Vietnam Experience

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The Vietnam Experience

The Vietnam War is one oft the most gruesome wars after 2nd world war. The war was between the years 1959-75. It was twenty years of war to no avail. Millions of people lost their lives – young soldiers from America and Vietnam, and many civil. After several years of war in Vietnam with France, a peace treaty was signed and the republic of Vietnam was created in South Vietnam with Ngo Dinh Diem as leader, and the north was ruled by communists. South Vietnam was receiving financial and military support from the United States, but the Diem regime was corrupt and the repression was a help to strengthen the communists opposition in South Vietnam. The military wing, called the Vietcong began in 1956 a guerilla war, where the smaller forces is fighting against a bigger strength. In 1964 the United States participate in the war, because they claim that some of their ships has been attacked. Systematically the U.S. started bombing the North Vietnamese cities, but while America were more advanced in the military, they where not able to defeat their opponents. The Vietnam War is especially known for its cruelty towards the civilian population, for example the My Lai massacre. The Americans were not familiar of this kind of guerilla war as the Vietcong's performed, and that is why it lead to a significant loss of civilian populations.

Many stories and movies has been written and made to show just how extremely horrible and terrible this war has been, both from the Americans side and the Vietnamese.
“Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam”: is a documentary about the Vietnam war seen trough the eyes of American soldiers. The film was made in 1987, 12 years after the war ended, by the director Bill Couturié. The documentary is build from the letters from the soldiers to their beloved ones. Professional actors read the letters out loud, while original footage from the war is shown. The documentary is truly powerful and it affects the viewers quickly, because of the awful things that have happened.
In the beginning of the documentary, we see a many young american soldiers being silly in the camp. Meanwhile a letter is being read from Dennis, who writes to his dear friend Tom. He describes to Tom how life is in war and what they are doing in the camp. The scenes starts with a song called “Walk Like A Man” while the footage shows soldiers fooling around and being happy. The footage is different clips showing the war-life in for example ind the camp. This clips shows happiness and the middle of a horrible situation, and as a viewer you get warm inside because even though the soldiers were on a terrible mission, they could still smile and laugh. “The Things They Carried” is a collection of stories from different persons where we get an insight of how it was for the American soldiers to live under the war. We get to know the persons who are in the stories very well because every character has a special role. Tim O'Brian is the writer of the collection and he is especially known for his writing style. For example he knows the balance between dialogue and the descriptive passages and also the narrative passages, so the minimalistic dialogue blends in with the descriptive passages. These are examples from “The Things They Carried”:
“When the dustoff arrived, they carried Lavender aboard. Afterward they burned Than Khe. They marched until dusk, then dug their holes, and that night Kiowa kept explaining how you had to be there, how fast it was, how the poor guy just dropped like so much concrete. Boom-down, he said. Like cement.” (end of page 6)
The descriptive passages make up by most of the story, and it gives a clear contrast between the inside and outside. We see what Tim O'Brien describes in the middle of the war, and we get to know how other soldiers feel:
“No clouds or birds or people. As they waited, the men smoked and drank Kool-Aid, not talking much, feeling sympathy for Lee Strunk but also feeling the luck of the draw.” (mid. p. 9)

“Love” is the second story in the collection and it is about the lieutenant Jimmy Cross, who visits his friend from the war, and the narrator is unknown. They are in Massachusetts, drinking cofee, smoking cigarettes and looking at pictures. They talk about the past and their good old There is a relaxed and a bit pressed atmosphere, because they can joke around with each other, but in the beginning they talk about what they have experienced for so long ago and all the things they still carry from the war. Their presence changes when Jimmy spots a photo of the deceased Ted Lavender:
“Then for a long time neither of us could think of much to say. The thing to do, we decided, was to forget the coffee and switch to gin, which improved the mood, ….” (mid. p.1)
They start to talk about Martha and Jimmy gets three flashbacks throughout the story, and in the end he tells the narrator, that he still loves Martha. That's the reason “Love” is the title, and the theme is every kinds of love. Love for friends or girls. It is a beautiful thought that even after such a dreadful experience, you are still able to have so much love and happiness, just like Jimmy Cross and the narrator. They have a special bond which we see in the text:
“At the end, though, as we were walking out to his car, I told him that I'd like to write a story about some of this. Jimmy thought it over and then gave me a little smile.”
We get the impression of that they know each other well and are openminded to each other, since after the war.
After knowing what happened in the war the story “Love” makes sense because it has a context to “The Things They Carried”.

Even though the United States suffered from a enormous loss, the American soldiers still seem happy and satisfied after the war. And even though they aren't heroes, I think they are satisfied by what they did for their own country.
Based on this war the world has been a much safer place. The leaders of the United States, Vietnam etc. had learned to some extent to cooperate and show a little consideration.
I don't think that anything like the Vietnam War will ever take place again because the whole world has become wiser.

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