Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Vietnam Diary

I just heard this story on NPR about the wartime diary found by an American soldier of a young Vietnamese doctor in the North Vietnamese. In a roundabout way, it took nearly forty years for the diary to be returned to her family. The soldier, Frederick Whitehurst, later became an FBI agent. All those years he felt the diary should be published and Dan Thuy Tram's family found.

This is another powerful example of the unknowns that are unleashed in every war. I like Whitehurt's comment at the end of the story: "I'm not a pacifist, I'm not at all," he says. "I come from a military family. I'm a company man. But I've always known since in Vietnam when I did it, when you put a bullet into a human being you cannot take back that thing called life. You cannot get it back, and Dang Thuy Tram describes so deeply what that thing is, that thing called life. And a bullet went right through her forehead and in that instant, she was gone. Can we think of another way to do this?"

Do national leaders every really know what they are getting into when they take their countries to war?