Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Vietnam War

With a documentary on the Vietnam War by Ken Burns coming out soon on PBS, I'm thinking about this even more:

In the winter of 1968, I travelled with my Family from Nelson, BC Canada to Spokane, Washington USA to do some Christmas shopping. I was 16 years old (soon to be 17) and my Brother Tony was 18, at that time. We stayed overnight in a nice hotel that had an indoor pool.

In the early evening, Tony and I went down to the pool for a swim. While swimming, we met two young guys about the same age as us. The only thing different about them that I can remember was that their hair was cut very short. We got to talking with them; where you from? Are you staying long? Stuff like that.

Then they told us they were leaving for Vietnam the next day. They may have told us which branch of the US military they were in but I don’t remember. Neither Tony, nor I had anything to say about this. The four of us just continued swimming around, jumping in, yelling and splashing; just having fun.

I’ve thought about these two young men that went to the Vietnam War many times over the years. I wonder what happened to them; were they killed or wounded or did they make it back home safely? We had that War every night on the news for many years. I did not learn very much, except body counts. Later on it was Anti-War protests on the news mostly.

When I was older, in my 50’s, I learned more about Vietnam from WW2 onward and how terrible that War was. If I was born 50 more miles south, it could have been me going to War there in 1969 or 1970. Just like those two young Americans my Brother and I met so many years ago.

Dale Poulin, Surrey, B.C. August 2017