As a Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, I would have to agree with President Trump, that those who fought in the Vietnam war were “Suckers” and “Losers”. They were, however, also good people, who like me, were led astray… but by who. As I looked back on my life I have to wonder, how did I get to a place, where killing women and children was acceptable, where bombing and burning down whole villages was okay, and where destroying rice fields with agent orange was necessary to prevent them from feeding the enemy, and themselves, for many years to come.

Part of it was a line in President Kennedy’s speech: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’, but it started back much further in my youth. Back to when I started Sunday school in the Christian Reformed Church. One of my earliest memories was an action song that we all loved to do. ‘OnwardChristian soldiers! Marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus. Going on before.’ It was here that I learned that I was special… a member of an elite group of people that had God on its side… and we were taught from the pulpit, about the heathen communist, who denied our God’s existence and killed Christian missionaries and their followers and therefore needed to be stopped.

I fell for it then, and now must live with the consequences of guilt and regret, for being involved in actions that took the life of many. Nothing much has changed in this world. Religions still teach exclusiveness, only it now seems to be getting more extreme, with many Christians joining the QAnon movement, while others join groups like the KKK or Antifa. All of these groups have exclusionary membership requirements and because of this, feel they have the right to speak out against those who oppose them, and at times a member or small group may believe they have the right to kill as well.

Mankind will more than likely destroy itself, perhaps sooner then most of us would like to think. When it happens there will be no tears from those life forms that survive and we will have only ourselves to blame for being so gullible. We asked for signs, and signs were sent, but they got trumped by our presidents. We could have had it all… if only we had learned to appreciate our differences, and lived together as One.  

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