If You Were For The VietNam War Or Against It
VietNam Veterans Live With Nightmares
Unless You Were There In That Particular Moment In Time
Then You Cannot Comprehend Why Someone Did What They Did
As A NamVet I Was Never Against The War
The Pain
The Anger
The Tears Never Go Away
The Prayers Are Never Ending


Vietnam Veterans Against The War Statement
By John Kerry
To The Senate Committee Of Foreign Relations
April 23--1971

I Would Like To Talk On Behalf Of All Those Veterans And Say That Several Months Ago In Detroit We Had An Investigation At Which Over 150 Honorably Discharged And Many Very Highly Decorated Veterans Testified To War Crimes Committed In Southeast Asia

These Were Not Isolated Incidents But Crimes Committed On A Day To Day Basis With The Full Awareness Of Officers At All Levels Of Command
It Is Impossible To Describe To You Exactly What Did Happen In Detroit
The Emotions In The Foom
The Feelings Of The Men Who Were Reliving Their Experiences In Vietnam
They Relived The Absolute Horror Of What This Country In A Sense Made Them Do

They Told Stories
That At Times They Had Personally Raped
Cut Off Ears
Cut Off Heads
Taped Wires From Portable Telephones To Human Genitals
And Then Turned Up The Power
Cut Off Limbs
Blown Up Bodies
Randomly Shot At Civilians
Razed Villages In Fashion Reminiscent Of Ghengis Khan
Shot Cattle And Dogs For Fun
Poisoned Food Stocks
And Generally Ravaged The CountrySide Of South Vietnam
In Addition To The Normal Ravage Of War
And The Normal And Very Particular Ravaging
Which Is Done By The Applied Bombing Power Of This Country

We Call This Investigation The Winter Soldier Investigation
The Term Winter Soldier Is A Play On Words Of Thomas Paine's In 1776
When He Spoke Of The Sunshine Patriots And Summertime Soldiers
Who Deserted At Valley Forge Because The Going Was Rough
We Who Have Come Here To Washington
Have Come Here Because We Feel We Have To Be Winter Soldiers Now

We Could Come Back To This Country
We Could Be Quiet
We Could Hold Our Silence
We Could Not Tell What Went On In Vietnam
But We Feel Because Of What Threatens This Country Not The Reds
But The Crimes Which We Are Committing That Threaten It
That We Have To Speak Out....

In Our Opinion And From Our Experience
There Is Nothing In South Vietnam Which Could Happen
That Realistically Threatens The United States Of America
To Attempt To Justify The Loss Of One American Life In Vietnam
Or Laos By Linking Such Loss To The Preservation Of Freedom
Which Those Misfits Supposedly Abuse
It Is To Us The Height Of Criminal Hypocrisy
It Is That Kind Of Hypocrisy Which We Feel Has Torn This Country Apart

We Found That Not Only Was It A Civil War
An Effort By A People Who Had For Years
Been Seeking Their Liberation From Any Colonial Influence Whatsoever
But Also We Found That The Vietnamese
Whom We Had Enthusiastically Molded After Our Own Image
Were Hard Put To Take Up The Fight Against The Threat
That We Were Supposedly Saving Them From

We Found Most People
Didn't Even Know The Difference Between Communism And Democracy
They Only Wanted To Work In Their Rice Paddies
They Didn't Want Helicopters Strafing Them
And Bombs With Napalm Burning Their Villages And Tearing Their Country Apart
They Wanted Nothing To Do With The War
Particularly With This Foreign Presence Of The United States Of America
They Wanted To Be Left Alone In Peace
They Practiced The Art Of Survival
By Siding With Whichever Military Force Was Present At A Particular Time
Be It Viet Cong
North Vietnamese Or American

We Found That All Too Often
American Men Were Dying In Those Rice Paddies
For Want Of Support From Their Allies

We Saw First Hand How Monies
From American Taxes Were Used For A Corrupt Dictatorial Regime

We Saw That Many People In This Country
Had A One Sided Idea Of Who Was Kept Free By The Flag

We Saw That Blacks Provided The Highest Percentage Of Casualties

We Saw Vietnam Ravaged Equally By American Bombs
Search And Destroy Missions
As Well As By Viet Cong Terrorism
Yet We Listened
While This Country Tried To Blame All Of The Havoc On The Viet Cong

We Rationalized Destroying Villages In Order To Save Them

We Saw America Lose Her Sense Of Morality
As She Accepted Very Cooly What Happened At My Lai
She Refused To Give Up The Image Of American Soldiers
Who Hand Out Chocolate Bars And Chewing Gum

We Learned The Meaning Of Free Fire Zones
And Shooting Anything That Moves
And We Watched While America Placed A Cheapness On The Lives Of Orientals

We Watched The United States Falsification Of Body Counts
In Fact The Glorification Of Body Counts

We Listened Month After Month
As We Were Told The Back Of The Enemy Was About To Break

We Fought Using Weapons Against "Oriental Human Beings"
We Fought Using Weapons Against Those People
Which I Do Not Believe This Country Would Dream Of Using
Were We Fighting In The European Theater

We Watched While Men Charged Up Hills
Because A General Said That Hill Had To Be Taken
And After Losing One Or Two Platoons
They Marched Away To Leave The Hill For Reoccupation By The North Vietnamese

We Watched Pride Allow The Most Unimportant Battles
To Be Blown Into Extravaganzas
Because We Couldn't Lose And We Couldn't Retreat
Because It Didn't Matter How Many American Bodies Were Lost To Prove That Point

So There Were Hamburger Hills
And Khe Sanhs
And Hill 81s
And Fire Base 6s
And So Many Others

Now We Are Told That The Men Who Fought There
Must Watch Quietly While American Lives Are Lost
So That We Can Exercise The Incredible Arrogance Of Vietnamizing The Vietnamese
Each Day To Facilitate The Process
By Which The United States Washes Her Hands Of Vietnam

Someone Has To Give Up His Life
So That The United States Doesn't Have To Admit To Something
That The Entire World Already Knows
We Can't Say That We Have Made A Mistake
Someone Has To Die So That President Nixon Won't Be
And These Are His Words "The First President To Lose A War"
We Are Asking Americans To Think About That
How Do You Ask A Man To Be The Last Man To Die In Vietnam?
How Do You Ask A Man To Be The Last Man To Die For A Mistake?....

We Are Here In Washington To Say
That The Problem Of This War Is Not Just A Question Of War And Diplomacy
It Is Part And Parcel Of Everything
That We Are Trying As Human Beings To Communicate To People In This Country

The Question Of Racism Which Is Rampant In The Military
And So Many Other Questions Such As The Use Of Weapons
The Hypocrisy In Our Taking Umbrage At The Geneva Conventions
And Using That As Justification For A Continuation Of This War
When We Are More Guilty Than Any Other Body Of Violations
Of Those Geneva Conventions
In The Use Of Free Fire Zones
Harassment And Interdiction Fire
Search And Destroy Missions
The Bombings
The Torture Of Prisoners
All Accepted Policy By Many Units In South Vietnam
That Is What We Are Trying To Say
It Is Part And Parcel Of Everything

An American Indian Friend Of Mine
Who Lives In The Indian Nation Of Alcatraz Put It To Me Very Succinctly
He Told Me How As A Boy On An Indian Reservation He Had Watched Television
He Used To Cheer The Cowboys When They Came In And Shot The Indians
Suddenly One Day He Stopped In Vietnam And He Said
"My God"
"I Am Doing To These People"
"The Very Same Thing That Was Done To My People"
And He Stopped
And That Is What We Are Trying To Say
That We Think This Thing Has To End

We Are Here To Ask And We Are Here To Ask Vehemently
Where Are The Leaders Of Our Country?
Where Is The Leadership?
We Are Here To Ask Where Are McNamara?
And So Many Others
Where Are They Now?

That We
The Men They Sent Off To War
Have Returned?
These Are The Commanders Who Have Deserted Their Troops
And There Is No More Serious Crime In The Laws Of War

The Army Says That They Never Leave Their Wounded
The Marines Say That They Never Ever Leave Their Dead
These Men Have Left All The Casualties
They Have Retreated Behind A Pious Shield Of Public Rectitude
They Have Left The Real Stuff Of Their Reputations
They Have Left It Bleaching Behind Them In The Sun In This Country

We Wish That A Merciful God Could Wipe Away Our Own Memories
Of That Service As Easily As
This Administration Has Wiped Away Their Memories Of Us
But All That They Have Done
And All That They Can Do By This Denial
Is To Make More Clear Than Ever Our Own Determination
To Undertake One Last Mission
To Search Out And Destroy The Last Vestige Of This Barbaric War
To Pacify Our Own Hearts
To Conquer The Hate And Fear
That Have Driven This Country These Last Ten Years And More

And So When Thirty Years From Now
Our Brothers Go Down The Street Without A Leg
Without An Arm
Or A Face
And Small Boys Ask "Why?"
We Will Be Able To Say "Vietnam" And Not Mean A Desert
Not A Filthy Obscene Memory
But Mean Instead Where America Finally Turned
And Where Soldiers Like Us Helped It In The Turning

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