Overview

Gambone’s entry was a basic summary of what we have learned this year. A point he really tries to hit home is the role that veterans play in politics. I think a big part of why veterans are elected into office is because of their service. The American population, in at at least today’s society, respects a veteran for the sacrifices they have made for their country. Throughout history that has not been the case unfortunately, but I believe we have progressed, especially in post-Vietnam society. I think that the most important role a veteran can make in politics is keeping veteran affairs at least a part of the political spectrum. Because it is the ignorance of the American population that allows for veterans to go unnoticed. While Americans do respect the veterans, they usually don’t dwell deep into veterans affairs, I would say mostly because they cannot relate. A veteran in politics, who understands the needs of veterans, allows for the public to better understand veterans and become more invested in their needs after the battlefield.

Women In War II

For this part of the class I watched and read Frances Liberty. I figured I might as well laugh as I hear these women tell their war stories. I thought Frances would be the perfect subject to read about. In class her stories were full of laughter and humor as she skipped through her stories as if she was telling it to her grandchildren. That is interesting to note considering most people are not very humorous during times such as those. But I think there can be comedy in wartime. Frances was able to find that humor in her service. Although I do not think she felt the war was like that while participating it. I think as time moved on she needed to help cope with her experience and figured comedy was the best way to deal with it.

I think the amazing part about Frances story as a whole was how she was able to move up in the macho bravado world of the United States Military. She finished as a Lt. Col., a very prominent position in the military, after the Vietnam War and 28 years experience in the military. I think it is obvious her peers and subordinates respected her, calling her a “straight shooter”. Now it is much easier for women to move around in the military, and I think she was probably pioneers or first to move up to such a prominent position in the military. I think her stories clearly show her charisma and strength and she should be honored for her duty to America.

Women In War

I have never understood the defiance of the army to include women in the frontlines of battle. If someone is in the army, they should be able to function in all aspects of warfare, including working in the frontlines as a part of the regular infantry. The women you read about are overwhelmingly nurses and a few pilots. I think if anyone can be in the army, they can be along the frontlines. After all, isn’t that the reason soldiers go to boot camp and training, to be able to function in battle?

The stories of the women in different wars were interesting slices of a pie from a different version of American veterans. Rhona Prescott’s story clearly shows survivors guilt with the loss of her friend. Instances like that are just amazing in the circumstance and chance of the experience. As much as her friend looked up to Rhona, I believe Rhona looked up and looks up to her friend Eleanor even more. Her experience as a nurse shows also included caring for the enemy. It’s has to be hard to try and care and help an enemy who had been determined to kill you.

Regina Schiffman was the second woman I read about. I thought it was interesting she was part of the neurosurgery that took place on the battlefield. It amazes me the way military medical services function in the conditions they endure throughout the war. I did not even know it’s possible to do neurosurgery during wartime. The fact more people do not get infected and die from their wounds, as they have done in earlier wars, is still astonishing.

Wages of War

The Wages of War chapters highlighted wars that do not receive as much spotlight or focus in the context of history. However I believe each one has importance that is often overlooked. Unfortunately, veterans of these wars do not receive the type of acclaim or attention they deserve. Anybody involved with any type of military action, no matter the level of involvement, of the extent of the conflict, deserves the highest respect possible from America and it’s citizens. The fact of the matter that war’s premise is to kill human beings. Each soldier sacrifices his safety to fight for the American cause, willing to die for that cause. No matter how small the engagement, the expectations of the soldier remain the same. These soldiers deserve more credit than they have received.

The War of 1812 and Mexican War veterans were very similar. Both were part of the infant American Army, though most were volunteers and civilians. The War of 1812 was the first test of American soldiers since the Revolutionary War. As a whole, the army was downright incompetent to the powerful British army. However, they did protect the nation from pure destruction at the hand of the British, which the ultimate goal of the army is to do, protect it’s country. The Mexican War was the first victory for the American military. It provided a needed confidence builder for the U.S forces, as well as brought Texas into the union. The Spanish-American War, including the Filipino Insurrection was the staple of the new American foreign policy of colonialism. It established foreign relations that would influence later events involving Cuba (1960’s relations). However the war caused more negative effects than positive, a highlight of American racism and brutal force.  The Korean War is considered the Forgotten War, and deservedly so. The war showcased the American foreign policy of stopping the increasing spread of communism in Asia. It was the first in the Cold War and would be followed up by Vietnam. Anti-communist sentiments were waved towards returning veterans, as veterans were labeled communist, though they had just come back from a war with communism, a disdain towards veterans that would unfortunately be repeated in Vietnam. More importantly however my Great Uncle Alvin served as a scout in Korea.

The American Way

This chapter I think was a very interesting chapter. It focused on the thought and construction of war memorials, particularly the Korean and Vietnam monuments. I have been to both monuments and I can say that both are very powerful monuments. But I do believe the Vietnam memorial, as they stated, to be a much more personal monument. I think the reason it is is because the history and the amount of controversy that became of the war. They had to try and look beyond the controversy and make the memorial about the soldiers rather than the policies that contributed to the war. However, I believe that all wars should be about that concept. The soldiers do not determine the policies and nor the reasons we go to war. All they are left to do is do what they are told, which is a very dangerous. Alluding to the book, I don’t think a nation can survive without dedication, gratification, and memorials to veterans. If they are willing to go to war for us, then we should be willing to welcome them home. I think the Vietnam and Korean wars show how we failed to welcome them home, despite their sacrifices.

Agent Orange

I have to be honest. I didn’t follow a lot of what they were saying in the Wages of War about Agent Orange. But I did get the basis of it, the government used Agent Orange to knock out shrubbery and jungle areas of Vietnam to try and provide less cover for the Viet Cong who used the jungle in a more advantageous way than the Americans. However, the substance held toxins that affected the health of numerous amounts of soldiers. I could not understand why the VA did not want to support the veterans in this situation. The VA does not deal with the decisions that military commanders make in terms of warfare and tactics. I guess it is bad politics to lay blame on the government of which your a part of. Thats all government is, you watch my back, I will make your life easier.

I would have hoped it talked more about the Mai Lai Massacre and the affects it had on Vietnam soldiers. It obviously turned the general public against the soldiers and made the soldiers out into criminals. The vast majority of the soldiers did not deserve this persecution and it only compounded their problems and addictions. That is why I believe Rambo should be looked at from a much more historical context. It deserves to be right up there with Born on the Fourth of July and Platoon as the better Vietnam movies. Can’t we all just get along?

The 4th of July 2

Good book. It really enjoyed the reading, though I do not think the book was as gripping as the first section. The latter half of the book shows how Ron takes his injury and uses it to showcase the effects of war. I think it was interesting how he eventually changed his stance on the war, hesitant because he did not want to be considered a traitor, a stance he had held concerning anti-war protesters. One reason I believe he gravitated to being an anti-war protester, besides having the injury in the first place, was the treatment he received from the general public concerning his injuries. At the parade, his service was glazed over by patriotic rhetoric by politicians. The government did not help his recovery very well either since the VA hospital was so poorly funded.

His Vietnam service was not touched upon until the very end of the book. I actually liked the way he constructed the story, allowing the reader to only see the effects of his wartime service without showing them his actual experiences. I can understand how Ron could feel so screwed up inside about his wartime service. He even mentioned at one point he could not even share these experiences with his veteran anti-war protesters, despite them being the only people capable of understanding his emotions. This book has shown me the horrors of war, both during and after, more accurately than any book I have read, and I have read a lot of war books.

The 4th of July

That was the most powerful and intense beginning of a book I have ever read. The way he recounts the battle in which he is wounded and the ride back to hospital and his initial recovery is very deep. The fact he was 21 when he went through this experience is what I really connect with. He joined the military when he is was my age, being wounded only three years later. His recount of the Veterans hospital and his process every morning is is also nothing I would want to experience, especially since it would last the rest of my life. Then he says how much was lost and how much he would never experience again at such a young age. I can empathize how he felt, since I am in the same part of my life right now.

The Best Years of Their Lives

Note: That movie is one of the longest movies I have ever seen, one which I will never watch again.

I think the movie’s impact had more to do with the message rather than the actual acting or movie production. Of course the movie was made in 1946, so we should not expect too much from that department. Al’s son could not get more Wally Cleaver like. But the message of the movie was very progressive I think, especially for the time. Most movies at that time were patriotic and very shallow. This movie moves beyond that and shows a side of war that I do not believe many Americans had seen before in cinema. The fact the movie was released a year after the completion of World War II is also very interesting. I wonder how receptive the movie was received by veterans?

The three perspectives of Fred, Al, and Homer made the movie more complex than if it had been just the story of onereturning veteran. I think Fred and Homer’s perspectives have kind of been shown in cinema as well as in history books more often than Al’s. You usually get the perspective of the young man who goes off to war and returns to society. I do not think as much attention is given to the older generation of veterans, the one’s with an established life and family when they are shipped off to war. I like the fact the director and writer gave recognition to this generation in the movie. Also, the director decided to use an actual war veteran in the movie; Homer, who was played by Harold Russell. I do believe it gave a bit of credibility for soldiers who watched the movie. However, it is interesting to to note Harold Russell lost his hands when a fuse exploded while filming a training video in the United States in 1944.

Women and Minorities

The role of women and minorities in warfare has always been a battle for respect. Ive always found it interesting how people can fight for a country that does not do very much to equalize them socially. Wages of War points out the numerous amounts of women military groups there were during World War II. I disagree the notion that some of these groups received veteran status. I don’t think they contributed to the war effort, while women along the homefront contributed far more to the war effort, whether it be taking care of the household or joining the factories who mass produced armaments and vehicles. I don’t want to condone their actions, however, because they were well intentioned.

Minorities received the same reception as they always have during wars. They are welcomed by a nation who does not believe they are equal in society. However it is interesting to note the fact they were received much better in combat than back in the states. I think the reason for this is the need for companionship and a brotherly atmosphere to get through warfare. The sacrifice they made was just as honorable, brave, and respectable as all the other soldiers participating. I would like to know how widespread that reception of minority soldiers was across the U.S ranks in World War II.

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