These reflections are from Mike Hastie. a veteran of the US war in Viet Nam, retired emergency room nurse, writer, and peace photographer.
Thank you, Mike, for sharing and continuing to bear witness to the horrors and injustices of the past and the present.
Shalom (שלום), MAA
This picture was of course taken at the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. The year was 1986.
When you study each mother’s face, the lying truth is there. What a tragedy for a mother to face, if indeed she finally realizes that her son died for a Lie. I am so glad I took this picture, as one of the mothers asked me to take the picture and send her a copy. I took 8-10 pictures using color slide film. I believe I sent that mother four slides. A picture is worth a thousand lies. Their sons were wrapped in a patriotic American flag, so Wall Street could make a killing off of unfathomable profit in Viet Nam. It is the great truth that has great silence. Once someone finally sees this truth, their core belief system is executed.
Years ago, I met the parents of a son who committed suicide because of his experiences in Iraq. They found their son’s body hanging in a closet. The father cut his son down and held his body on the floor. The mother was also there, as they both grieved their lives to a standstill. How do you survive this? Both parents decided to bear witness about the lies of the Iraq War, so they spoke all over the country. Their task was to save one teenager from joining the military because they did not want more parents to experience what they did. So, there is no rest for the messenger until the message has been delivered.
How do you convince conservative people that their government is a monster? I had two vet friends who also hanged themselves. When I was in Viet Nam, I tried to save the life of a U.S. soldier who shot himself in the head with his M-16. On another occasion I unzipped a body bag and looked at the face of a U.S. soldier who shot himself in the head with a pistol. I have known many vets who had friends who killed themselves. It is incredibly difficult to get the American people to believe what I have just written. They just can’t believe their own government would betrayed them in such an unspeakable lie. They simply can’t deal with the emotional pain, so they choose to live in a patriotic dream world.
I was raised in the military, as my father was a career Army officer. I believed in every square inch of the American Dream, of freedom and democracy, and the home of the brave. It was my core belief system. When I came back from Viet Nam, I was catapulted into another world of deceit. As you remember, I wound up in two psychiatric hospitals after I came back from Viet Nam, because Betrayal had redefined my life. I found myself in a padded cell screaming I hate my government. You can’t be a democracy and a Global Empire at the same time. When politicians and the rich start sending their kids to war, I’ll start believing in noble causes.
One day while I was on a bunker in Viet Nam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Viet Nam who did not want me in HIS country. This truth escapes millions…
Mike Hastie, Army Medic Viet Nam, July 5, 2021, I was born in America, but my heart is Vietnamese.