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War memorial has divided us | Guest op
It definitely looks like this joint war memorial is not a good idea at all. And that's because instead of uniting us, Vietnam-era veterans and other war veterans of Auburn, the idea of building this war memorial at the Veterans Park is dividing us and creating bad feelings within our ranks.
Many of us said that it's going to be a part of the "healing process" of what we saw and experienced fighting in that war, and on how we were shabbily treated by this country when we came home from that war.
Many of us, perhaps, also feel so guilty about the horrid things we did there that we have this absolute need to "heal" this horrid guilt. It was a horrid war. All wars are horrid, for that matter.
Many of us had seen how the South Vietnamese soldiers fought bravely alongside us. Yet many of us had also saw those soldiers "throw their rifles away" and cut out on us in the heat of battle, jeopardizing our lives and the lives of our comrades.
We all have varied memories of that war. Most of them, if not all of them, were memories, that I am sure, we all want to forget.
I believe, for many of us, the building of this joint war memorial will only bring back these memories. I believe, for many of us, who were in the fight, the sight of the defunct South Vietnamese flag flying side by side with the Stars and Stripes, will only refresh those memories. For many of us, that will be an offending sight, especially if this sight would be seen on sacred grounds of Auburn's Veterans Park.
Yes, let's build a war memorial in honor of Vietnam veterans – American born or not – who fought for this country and who gave their lives (58,000 of them) and limbs away in defense of the ideals of this country, but not a joint war memorial to remind us of the atrocities of that war and of our "guilt" from that war, and of our shameful and horrid memories of that war.
And let's have the Star and Stripes fly only on its own at our City's Veterans Park. That was the only flag that we, Vietnam-era war veterans, laid down our lives for. No other flags were relevant to us then, no other flags are relevant to us now.
I am member of VFW Post 1741, and as Frank Bannister, the present commander of our post, said in his Sept. 13 letter to the editor of the Auburn Reporter, "VFW Post 1741 remains vocal in its objections because this issue will divide the community and has already generated strong emotions on both sides ... "
It has divided us, veterans of the Vietnam War, and of other wars. It has created bad feelings within our ranks. It is not, therefore, a good idea at all.
Jesse Jose, an Auburn resident, is a regular contributor to the Auburn Reporter.