Wars, Patriots, and Traitors: Recalling Korea and Vietnam

I was released from the Army reserve in January 1961, having served in Korea during the war. The timing was lucky for me, but not for the next generation of draft-age men because it was the year that a simmering stew in Vietnam was boiling over into warfare. This time. it was against the Communists under Ho Chi Minh, based in Hanoi. The conflict in Vietnam is a sordid tale of political plots and maneuvers, backstabbing, fall-guys, and the murder by insiders of South Vietnamese anti-communist leader, Ngo Dinh Diem. To identify the perpetrators of this bloody war that took the lives of more than 58,000 of our young men would require two fingers – one pointing to Moscow, the other to Washington. Whether President Lyndon B. Johnson (“LBJ”) was a culpable agent in this military holocaust, something historians were too eager to prove, the fact remains that the Vietnam War was America’s most unpopular war. It ignited protests and demonstrations not witnessed since the Civil War. Men burned draft cards and fled to Canada to escape the draft.

Open defiance by draft-dodgers in the performance of duty to country was something that I and my generation could not justify. In our world, such flagrant disrespect for the law was inexcusable – not because we could be sent to jail if we refused to heed the draft call, and not whether it was fact or fiction that we were pawns in games of chess played by power-hungry rulers. The draft call was obeyed because serving one’s country was the right thing to do – as was serving one’s family and serving God.

This authentic American morality [1] was echoed in a comment on war movies, made some years ago by Clyde N. Wilson. A good war film, he said, “shows Americans coming together to sacrifice their lives for their country. For their country: because it is...the right thing to do.” [Emphasis added.]

LeRoy Eaton, a fellow Korean War veteran, put it this way: “No sane person wants to go to war. But the war happened and...so it was our job to go to Korea. That was pretty much how we felt...We knew what was expected of us and hoped that we were able to give what was asked. Most of us went to Korea for ‘Honor and Country’...I grew up to believe that a person who fails or refuses his country is called a traitor… Most others at that time thought like I did. They went to Korea to do as their country asked without complaining.”

The honorable action displayed by the vast majority of military service members rests on the bedrock of this genuine morality, fast against the erratic currents of passion and politics. Though it was not clear to me at the time, the split in loyalties in America initiated by the Left, in tandem with violent demonstrations by ignorant social rebels seizing every opportunity to turn the country on its head for outrageous claims to “a better world,” “a better life,” would be the beginning of America’s social revolution. Sober reflection on the rebels’ claims revealed that they came straight out of communist dogma and instructions for revolutionary maneuver and takeover. The rebels had friends in the news media [2].

The most damning commentary of this period is that while GIs were dying in Vietnam, tens of thousands of their peers were “rocking” in Woodstock, high on drugs and deep in debauchery – a shameful episode in American history that has been celebrated by the mainstream press.

Night after night, in fact, Americans got front-row seats to gruesome battle scenes on television. TV news outdid anything shown in horror movies. These you-are-there, graphic, in-your-face “reports” departed radically from the matter-of-fact TV coverage of the Korean war or the sober radio and film broadcasts of World War II. The horrid scenes, dripping with morbid commentary, were sickening not because they showed that war is hell (ask any war veteran) – a cinch to point out in a short clip or two – but because the constant delivery of bloody war scenes into every home, with politically-barbed words, was obviously calculated to saturate one’s head with the idea that war – any war – is unjustified. Anti-war editorializing in the news served to indoctrinate the public, a violation of a reporter’s duty to keep one’s opinions out of the news. Although this may seem strange to a great many reporters today, a journalist worth the title still presents the available facts, free as possible of personal or political bias. The valid reporter leaves commentary and opinion to the viewer/reader and to editorial columns and commentary sections of the news media. I can hear howls of laughter. Those who don’t know that opinion and news are not synonymous have an enormous lesson to learn.

In one sound bite: Love of fellow human beings, love of family and country, love of freedom of mind and person are what motivate men and women to stand against traitors of civilized order and freedom.

[1] Judeo-Christian morality, to be specific, is the morality that the United States was founded upon – its heart heart and marrow of culture and supporting laws – a fact despised by the Left.

[2] The Soviet Union provided $1 billion to the US anti-war movement. This was an enormous sum in the 1960s.

Image credit: Manh Hai, via FlickrCC BY-SA 2.0.

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