I'm one of the lucky Vets... I saw the Viet Nam war through the bakeshop on an aircraft carrier. And, being out at sea, our main news source was from the Navy - heavily slanted and/or censored. We never quite knew exactly what was going on, but we were defending freedom, motherhood, apple pie, and all of the other glorious lies spun to justify the horror.
I was ready to head to Canada to avoid being drafted in 1971, but my father said I should look into an alternate service before making a decision that would affect me for the rest of my life. I joined the Naval Reserve on Treasure Island - 2 years active duty and 4 years reserves.
Being the cocky anti-war kid I was, I showed up to boot camp in an army jacket with an "Out Now" button. My dad drove me to the airport and never said a word about my attire.
To say the powers that be in San Diego were not amused is an understatement. After getting back from boot camp, I asked him why he never said anything and he told me I needed to learn about consequences for ones actions.
I took the Naval placement exams - Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery - and scored in the 97th percentile. I had my choice of schools - from nuclear to computers to anything I wanted. I was - and am - a horrible student, and many of the schools would have required extending my active duty status, so I chose Commissaryman Class A School. Cooks and Bakers. I already knew how to cook and bake. It was the path of least resistance.
I sailed through as a civilian in military clothing. My "Quarterly Marks" - evaluations - were consistently 4.0 straight down until it came to "Military Behavior." I also don't take orders well and always question authority.
We were the Navy of dungarees and chambray shirts - not the not the camoflauge military fatiques they wear, today. Through it all, I never saw the actual horrors. I supported it, but never had to face it.
I feel for the military of today. Back when I was in, I think it was about 45% draftees and 55% who voluntered. Mamy many many of us had no illusion that we were saving the world from communism or anything else. We knew it was bullshit and what we were doing wasn't right, but the alternative - going to prison as a draft dodger - was worse. The all-vounteer military - especially after 9/11 - had so many people joining who were Anti-Terrorist, Pro-America who were shattered when they found out they were being lied to. I have a nephew who did four tours in Afghanistan and has some serious PTSD.
We've had far too many days which will live in infamy. We don't need any more.
And for grins and giggles, here I am on the day they signed the Paris Accords. I was BBQing steaks on the flight deck in the Gulf of Tonkin. I was up there for about 12 hours and got 2nd degree sunburn on every exposed part of my body. I was hopitalized for 4 days and a Leading Chief wanted to have me courtmartialed for "destruction of government property" - myself. The only reason it didn't happen is because I was up there under order.