While in Vietnam one day, I was in a truck. I wasn’t the only one in the truck. I guess there were about 14 of us. However, I was likely the only one who took note of a farmer in his field up to his knees in water. My guess is that he was harvesting his rice crop, but I don’t know.
Now, why would I take note of this farmer and what makes me write about him? After all, it was decades ago. Most people would have forgotten about the man a long time ago.
The fact is, the farmer was completely oblivious to what all was going on around him. He was too busy just trying to survive. There was one group of people who wanted to take control of his life, his and all those around him. Then there were those of us who were trying to protect him from the communists.
It is conceivable that someone might have told him, but he likely had no interest in it. First, he likely didn’t truly understand. Second, he likely felt he couldn’t do anything one way or the other. Third, he likely didn’t look far beyond the next day. It is hard to think politics when you have a wife and a couple of children who are facing starvation in the next few days.
Besides these two groups, there was another group, very far removed from Vietnam. They had goals too. They wanted an end to the war in Vietnam. They had little interest in the farmer or what might happen to him. I am sure the protesters are proud of what they did.
So it was, in a short time, the decision was made to withdraw. Decades later, I talked to a pilot who flew for the Vietnamese Air Force. When he left his country, he was flying a C-130 (a large cargo plane) that was overloaded and people were falling off the rear door as he went to the runway. Somehow, I suspect that the war protesters cared little about them either, or those who died at sea trying to escape the communists.
Today, I often think about that farmer I saw. I wonder what happened to him. I suspect he lost his farm, though he was likely required to continue working it. It’s the sort of thing the communists do.
On the other hand, he might have been one of the million or so that were killed by the communists. If he objected about them taking over his farm, it is the sort of thing they might have done.
…and, of course, the war protesters are really happy they prevailed.
I had no desire to go to Vietnam. I even had one year of exemption for college. I must admit, I was afraid. (That’s right, I was a scared marine) Fortunately, I spent my tour mostly at Da Nang air base. There were still some nights we were scared enough to go running for the bunker.
There is, however, but one thing I truly regret, that I was never able to help that farmer. After all, most of us would die without the farmers.
(Please note, this and the next post are loosely related. If you like this one, you might like the next.)