Dropping Knowledge: The Vietnam War

Dropping Knowledge: The Vietnam War

Remembering a dark chapter of American history — the honor, the glory, the loss — with tattoos

A wise man once asked, “What is best in life?” And a wiser man still answered, “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.” Truly, a solid philosophy for war, and the farthest thing from what America accomplished during the Vietnam War.

The war actually started back in 1955 between North and South Vietnam, and somehow managed to stay none of America’s god damn business for almost a decade. But by 1964, America, wary of communism at home and abroad, jumped into the fray after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which, as it turns out, probably didn’t even fucking happen.

It wasn’t until 1975 that America pulled its last troops from the Southeast Asian nation, and learned a valuable lesson about interfering in foreign wars that didn’t concern us. Oh, wait. No, we fucking didn’t.

In the decade between, nearly 60,000 young American souls lost their lives in a war that, at the end of the day, accomplished nothing more than littering a country of beautiful jungle scenery with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of corpses.

Of course the Vietnamese didn’t call it the Vietnam War, they called it the “Resistance War Against America,” which honestly sounds punk as fuck. The North Vietnamese government and Viet Cong were fighting for unification with South Vietnam. Uncle Sam didn’t take too kindly to this, as the North were communists, the antithesis of the ideals of American democracy and a threat to our way of life. Or so the government said. A year after the war ended, Vietnam reunified, which leaves me with the impression that the US lost the war, but our history books count it firmly as a draw.

The quagmire that was this conflict does nothing to cheapen the glory and honor of those who served their country in this time. America lost a good chunk of a young generation in the jungles of Vietnam. These men were brothers, husbands, and fathers. Their sacrifice is not to be taken lightly, and indeed should be honored. And like anything associated with honor, the Vietnam War shows up in the tattoos memorializing those lost in this conflict.

These pieces serve as a reminder of loss and valor. To others, Vietnam War tattoos serve as a reminder of the lessons of history — lessons that likely won’t be learned anytime soon.

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