"My Vietnam, Your Iraq" Essay
The Vietnam War divided the United States in the 1960s; decades later, U.S. involvement in Iraq started its own disharmony. But "My Vietnam Your Iraq" creates a bridge between these two wars, focusing on the personal stories of eight Vietnam veterans whose own children have served in Iraq. Each personal account examines the pride, fear, and countless other emotions and challenges that children and their parents deal with when faced with deployment, each with a different perspective. Though the stories are unique to each family, the narrative resonates with every one of us: the stories of the men and women who fought and fight for themselves, their families, and their country.
Larry Darham arrived in Vietnam just in time for Tet in 1968 and served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He relays the tale of finding a letter on a dead Vietnamese and realizing the soldier had written home "complaining about the same things we did. They were just like me, trying to get home." Darham goes on to detail how, before he got home, he found out about the death of two of his hometown friends, in combat. "No father with sons should ever want this country involved in war, especially no father who has been in combat," he said. But Darham goes on to say he has two sons serving, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. "That's a lot of pressure," he said. "Every night I lay my head down, I'm telling them, 'Get down, stay down, stay alert.'" Forty years having passed since his own service has given him a new appreciation and understanding of his own father. "I could never have imagined my father's struggles during my tour until I experienced it with my own sons."
These are average Americans, almost all of whom spoke quite articulately about not only their own service but also about their child's (or parent’s) service. There is a lot of emotion, which is not a surprise, especially from the fathers when they talk about what they went through in their own...