Sunday, March 21, 2010

Arizona redux

I returned to Phoenix to retake some pics in Wesley Bolin Park. Finally satisfied that I had what I wanted, I started walking around in this lovely memorial park. As I approached the Purple Heart Memorial, which you find in many of these sites, I noticed a guy just standing in front of the memorial. I held back so as to not interrupt his visit. He turned and asked me if I wanted him to move so I could take a picture? I "knew" this guy, slightly long white hair, beard, carrying a backpack. I told him to take his time. As I just stood there, he said "I have 22" I said, "Excuse me, 22 what?" He said, "Purple Hearts, 18 in 'Nam and 4 in the first Iraqi war." I, of course, was stunned. I asked him his name and he told me. He went on for some time talking about his experiences and background. As he spoke and the stories became more and more, well, astounding and I admit, I started to wonder. We talked for a while longer and then parted company.

When I got back to my hotel, I immediately plugged his name into Google and found nothing. Then I went to the Purple Heart site, figuring he would surely be there. Nothing. I searched all kinds of sites and came up empty.

I have to admit that it made me a little mad, (I, also, felt a little dumb.) I couldn't figure out why someone would go to all that trouble to make stuff up. I, sadly, discarded my original idea of telling his story here.

Then after a few days I had a thought. It occurred to me that we have come a long long way. From being ignored (at best) and spit upon and called names, or worse, at the other end of the spectrum; to people wanting to be part of our group! Wanting it so badly that they will make up any story they can to be considered a 'Nam vet!

My analysis may not be correct either, but I think that it is an interesting possibility and for the moment I choose to believe it. It has always interested me that 8 or 9 guys out of any ten who went to 'Nam were in some kind of support role, this is how war works. But, for the most part, I have rarely, rarely met anyone who was not a "front line" (such as it was, in 'Nam) soldier. Some of these guys probably never left the States, (as someone said to me) but they want to be seen as more. Perhaps, probably(?) these incidents are just extensions of the same need. I guess everyone would like to be associated with heroes or winners or whatever, but I am not too sure how, or when, we went from one extreme to the other.

In checking out some other things, I ran across a site that is hawking a book by a guy who claims to have researched similar claims by guys who weren't ever there. I have no idea if any of what he says is true, but if it is, actual vets have been done a great disservice. You can decide for yourself and check out his page here;

Since I wrote the initial paragraphs of this post, the story of the Connecticut Attorney General has surfaced. I, further, read that it has become almost mandatory for those seeking office to have Vietnam service in their resume! What a strange, strange world we live in!! It would seem that the above mentioned book may indeed have some valid points to make.

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