“Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing.”-Forrest Gump

I have always thought war was cut and dry, good versus evil, America is the best, The US is always in right. I never thought that America could be in moral grey area. This was a rude awaking. The Thing They Carried changed my perception on war. This book is compilation of short war stories by Tim O’Brien.

“Nobody ships his honey to Nam”

At the helipad that morning, Mark Fossie grinned and put his arm around her and said, ‘Guys, this is Mary Anne.’”. By far the most disturbing/ eye opening story was about a young woman named Mary Anne who ventured to Vietnam to reunite with her boyfriend named Fossie. At first everything was ok she stayed in the compound and never left Fossie’s side. Then she became curious about Vietnam, which was an issue for Fossie. She started leaving the compound and exploring the country. She would leave for days at a time with the Special Forces unit called greenies. After being gone from the compound for multiple weeks Fossie was worried sick. He stormed into the greenies’ cabin where he was never supposed to go and he found his Mary Anne in her normal clothing (a pink sweater and skirt) but her accessories anything but normal. She wore seven human tongues on a piece of copper wire strung out like a seashell necklace. The greenies told stories of her being the most reckless warrior they have ever seen. She would run at heavily armed enemies with just a knife and she would lacerate them until they were unrecognizable. One Greenie said she wouldn’t even wear armor or even shoes on missions. Shortly after Fossie’s discovery of his “new” girlfriend she left with her stunning jewelry of tongues, her sweater, her skirt, and she never came back. The Greenies claimed she was alive and too smart to be killed. This story made me cringe. How could two months of war make a person’s mental state do a complete one eighty making them a 100% different person? This made me think about myself and if I’ve had some type of profound experience that changed my life completely. I spent many hours pondering the question. I came up with nothing, I have never had anything impact me even close to way the war affected Mary Anne. This shows the power of war and terrible impact it can have.

“The Man I killed”

“His jaw was in his throat, his upper lip and teeth were gone, his one eye was shut, his other eye was a star shaped hole, his eye…the skin on his left cheek was peeled back in three ragged strips…his neck was open to the spinal cord and the blood there was thick and shiny…He lay face-up in the center of the trail, a slim, dead, almost dainty young man.”. Before reading this chapter I was confident that I could kill someone if I really had to. Now i’m really unsure that I could kill. I mean I play very violent sports such as wrestling and football and train to be “killer” on the field but that doesn’t even compare to actually murdering someone. The way Tim O’Brien described the way he felt after taking someone’s life is why I wouldn’t be able to do it. He sat on the trail and stared at the corpses he created for almost an hour, thinking about the man’s life he took. The man didn’t want to die that day, “He was not a communist. He was a citizen and a soldier”. The man didn’t dislike America, he just want them to be gone so he could resume his simplistic farmer’s life. Instead he got “laid out like shredded fuckin’ wheat.”

Nam

American soldiers are normal everyday people that pulled the short straw when it came to the military draft. Some guys carried love letters, some carried their girlfriend’s pantyhose, and others carried marijuana. These things they brought with them were used as coping methods. Hell even one guy claimed his girlfriend’s panties are magical and is the only reason he made it out alive. Not to impose my political views, but with a change of leadership (especially when it’s a controversial person like Donald Trump) you never know when the next war will breakout. That is a scary thing for boys my age because we would prime candidates for the military draft and I certainly would not want to be in a place that is anything like Vietnam.

Citations

  • Zemeckis, Robert, Steve Tisch, Wendy Finerman, Steve Starkey, Don Burgess, Arthur Schmidt, Alan Silvestri, Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field, Eric Roth, and Winston Groom. Forrest Gump. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2001.
  • O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.
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