Friday, May 21, 2010

Saying No

"The fact is that regardless of whether a war was moral, justified, won, or meaningful, having served in one -- particularly in combat -- confers prestige. Harvard and Yale and social connections are nice..."

Henry Allen, "Why they lie about Vietnam," The Washington Post, May 20,2010.

I'm not sure "prestige" is the right word, but if so, it explains why people lie about their war records. For some, bragging rights is a natural offshoot of prestige. And so come the lies.

One group of people not mentioned in this op-ed are those who fled the country or who went to prison in opposition to the Vietnam War. Mostly young men of not more than 18 were given very tough choices, or no choice, to participate in a bad war, use their wiles, resources, and contacts to get out of harms way, or take a stand and the consequences of saying "No."

For me, the draft ended before I completed college and the war soon after. My regret, at times, is wondering whether I would have had the guts to take the personal consequences of saying No. I think it's always good to try and align beliefs with behaviors and consequences. Not much prestige here, just tough times.

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