One day when I was still high school, an announcement came over the speaker calling for a moment of silence for a former Corcoran High School student who had died in Vietnam. I was always afraid of what was going on over there, but that really brought it home.
The draft loomed directly ahead for most of us, and I worried about it up till I drew a high number in the draft lottery as Vietnam was winding down. I was scared of being drafted, not going to lie, and I was very relieved when I didn't have to go.
Those were some crazy times, kind of like now, with people yelling, screaming and fighting with each other. As a result of all the chaos, those young men who went overseas got royally screwed on their return. There were no parades like WWII, and many of the youthful protestors took out their objections to the war by targeting the soldiers instead of the politicians who sent them.
I got caught up in it too. I wrote an American Legion essay about why the USA had no business being in Vietnam. I was proud of my youthful rebellion then but ashamed of it now. I didn't know jack shit about the war, but it was cooler, and almost a youth culture requirement to be in tune with that way of thinking.
I was so naive then that I read an article about Hippies, and it mentioned that they smoked banana peels to get high, and I actually got some bananas, peeled them, and was baking them in the oven right in front of my mom. When she asked me what I was going to do with the baked peels, I told her, "I'm going to smoke them and get high."
She hit me upside the head with a wooden stirring spoon. That was when I first realized that there was a difference between the way my parents looked at life and the way that I looked at life. I thought smoking banana peels could be a good thing, my mom knew better. Yet, I persisted in holding out against the wisdom of experience and going with the novelty of stupidity.
I don't care about what your thoughts are on the morality of the Vietnam war; those young soldiers who fought and died deserved better. There is still an ongoing silliness wherein many people believe that all wars are unjust and that America should never participate in another. It's a belief whose nobility is canceled out by its naive ignorance.
It would be nice if the world was composed of only reasonable people. It would also be a fantasy. Even countries which are not aggressive have wars thrust upon them, and it is often those who most desire peace who weaken their resolve to defend themselves from evil. A belief in world peace is a truly noble desire, but it is also a lot like smoking banana peels. And it's even worse if your mama ain't around to jar you back to reality.
It's also a great mistake to think that our soldiers don't desire peace. I greatly admire those who serve and have served our country. I am humbled in their presence. And I'm awful glad that they always to show-up when we need them most.