I recently saw the Vietnam-era movie “Full Metal Jacket” on TV, and it brought back memories of my basic training experience. Although the training in FMJ was Marine boot camp at Parris Island, it was almost identical to my Army experience at Fort Dix, NJ. I went through basic at the same time as portrayed in the movie, which was 1967-1968 timeframe. By the way, a young Vincent D’onofrio (Law and Order) is a key player in the first part of the movie.
Although my basic training took place over 40 years ago, I can still remember much of it vividly. I still have the occasional dream about it.
The second part of the movie portrays some of the Marine unit’s experiences in Vietnam. Interestingly, this week the History Channel is running a series on that war called “Vietnam in HD”. Watching both of these reminded me of how terrible and mismanaged that conflict was. Fortunately, I was not sent to Vietnam, so the remembrances of that war are more from war stories I heard from guys who had been there, news reports of the time, and movies. Unfortunately, our politicians haven’t learned the lessons of Vietnam and continue to engage us in wars in places where we shouldn’t be (such as Iraq).
War should be an absolutely last resort. Not only are people killed and wounded, but many are emotionally scarred. Moreover, we have an economy that is not in good shape, and a huge federal deficit. We simply can’t afford to fight a war right now.
As Veteran’s Day approaches in the U.S. (on 11/11/11 this year), let us remember those who served and continue to serve. Let us also remember not only their sacrifices but also the sacrifices of their families. Pray for all of them, and pray that our troops will soon be able to leave Afghanistan. Pray for peace, and pray that the forces of evil in this world, which seek to oppress or attack others, will be restrained by the powerful hand of God. We look forward to that Day of the Lord when swords will be beaten into plowshares.