Best 84 of Vietnam war quotes - MyQuotes
I have to keep my mouth shut about Nam though. All of these guys want to believe they were fighting an honorable war, and that their conduct deserves respect. They want the public to treat them like they’re heroes—like the WWII vets were.” “Instead, smart ass, pampered kids call them names and throw dog shit at them.
It don't mean nothin
When I was last in Paris I was dirt poor, hiding from the Vietnam War. One night, in an old church, I considered taking my life. I didn't know how to be so young and not belong anywhere, stuck among so many perplexing melodies.
The old refrain is that there are no atheists in foxholes. That's nonsense. They are there by the millions. There is little in combat that will lead one to look upon the Creator with favor. What can't be there, instead, is the individualist, the selfish, the self-consumed, the self-centered, the aloof loner. Such a man cannot long survive. The terror of combat cannot be described by fear of death. There are worse things. The world can suddenly become a very cold place...He needs warmth, a fire, to survive: His discipline, his training, his duty, honor and country, his family, and ultimately the very oak of his manhood are thrown into the blaze, but they are not enough to save him. At the end, he needs the warmth of his comrades. Otherwise, all he will have with which to face the cold dark will be his own spent soul.
It’s not that I had more important things to do or that I didn’t want to help with whatever problems were interfering with her students being successful—rather, it’s this horrible truth that life has taught me: misplaced hope is the most devastatingly painful thing you can give someone.
Lee Harvey Oswald fired the starting gun of America's nightmare years. This insignificant man's bullets didn't just echo through Dealey Plaza in 1963. The shockwaves from them arguably fuelled the turbulent events of the rest of the 1960s and only dissipated with Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War.
T. Colin Campbell
Much of my early career was spent working with two of the most toxic chemicals ever discovered, dioxin and aflatoxin. I initially worked at MIT, where I was assigned a chicken feed puzzle. Millions of chicks a year were dying from an unknown toxic chemical in their feed, and I had the responsibility of isolating and determining the structure of this chemical. After two and a half years, I helped discover dioxin, arguably the most toxic chemical ever found. This chemical has since received widespread attention, especially because it was part of the herbicide 2,4,5-T, or Agent Orange, then being used to defoliate forests in the Vietnam War." T.Colin Campbell
The idea that we must choose between the method of "winning hearts and minds" and the method of shaping behavior presumes that we have the right to choose at all. This is to grant us a right that we would surely accord to no other power. Yet the overwhelming body of American scholarship accords us this right.
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Our proper mode in situations where demand was high and supply low was to elbow, jostle, crowd, and hustle, and, if all that failed, to bribe, flatter, exaggerate, and lie. I was uncertain whether these traits were genetic, deeply cultural, or simply a rapid evolutionary development. We had been forced to adapt to ten years of living in a bubble economy pumped up purely by American imports; three decades of on-again, off-again war, including the sawing in half of the country in '54 by foreign magicians and the brief Japanese interregnum of World War II; and the previous century of avuncular French molestation.
The fear syndrome [a species of propaganda], by exaggerating Vietcong power for destruction, misplaces the real pain of the real war, and is immensely dangerous. It leads to hysteria, to hawk-demands for a bigger war; it pushes us nearer and nearer to World War Three. The fear syndrome in no way serves the American cause; it can only jeopardize more American lives, with the ultimate risk of jeopardizing all life.
I’ve seen a lot of stuff… maybe I’ve seen too much. I see most humans in a bad light because I’ve seen what they can do, how evil they can be… I’ve seen the Holocaust and I’ve seen Jonestown, I’ve seen the Vietnam War and I’ve seen Hiroshima… I’ve seen the Chernobyl disaster… I’ve seen the World Trade Center attack… I’ve been alive too long, over a hundred years is a long time to be alive,” Alecto sighed, staring at the cigarette he was holding.
He believed something that he could hardly explain, even to himself. He thought it was a tragedy that would have to be played out, in the sense that water always seeks its own level. In some ultimate sense, there was no one at the controls. The war ran on its own motion...But the thing would not be stopped, because to stop it, simply to end it, would be to repudiate too much. Too many words to eat, too many unforeseen consequences, too much shame, too many unrequited dead. So the war was a force of nature, a wand of the gods...
He says when you're smoking a cigarette with someone, and you have a lighter, you should light their cigarette first. But if you have matches, you should light your cigarette first, so you breathe in the 'harmful sulfur' instead of them. He says it's the polite thing to do. He also says it's bad luck to have "three on a match." He heard that from his uncle who fought in Vietnam. Something about how three cigarettes was enough time for the enemy to know where you are. Bob says that when you're alone, and you light a cigarette, and the cigarette is only halfway lit that means someone is thinking about you.
Norman Morrison soaked himself in petrol and burned himself on the steps of the Pentagon in protest against the Vietnam war...Would it perhaps have taken greater courage to set fire to the President? A body of men who sleep soundly on a daily programme of sanctioned mass-murder are surely only distrubed by personal danger.
They stared at each other. Every ocean, every river, every minute they had walked together was in their gaze. He said nothing and she said nothing. She kneeled by him, her hands on him, on his chest, on his heart, on his lungs that took air in but could not move air out, on his open wound; her eyes were on him, and in their eyes was every block of uncounted, unaccounted-for time, every moment they had lived since June 22, 1941, the day war started for the Soviet Union. Her eyes were filled with everything she felt for him. Her eyes were true.
None of us laughed at Helen. Maybe because in 1970 we listened more to new ideas, however sentimental or foolish they sound all these years later in the harsh light of the millennium’s end. We wanted to find new answers for old questions, or we just thought there were new answers. And even with all the death that came daily, the death that would come to our gathering in the meadow, life in America felt as if it were being recast, reshaped, even redeemed by some transcendent thing.
Anna M. Aquino
I remember my father, who had served in Vietnam, once talking to me about how real courage is when you're scared out of your mind but you do what you have to do anyway. I didn't feel very courageous at the moment. I felt like a small mouse in the mouth of a lion.
The whole experience ought to have (but has not) taught Americans to cultivate deep regional knowledge in the practice of foreign policy, and to avoid being led by ideology instead of understanding. The United States should interact with other nations realistically, not on the basis of domestic political priorities. Very often the problems in distant lands have little or nothing to do with America's ideological preoccupations. Beware of men with theories that explain everything. Trust those who approach the world with humility and cautious insight.
Lyndon Johnson was a master of self-justification. According to his biographer Robert Caro, when Johnson came to believe in something, he would believe in it “totally, with absolute conviction, regardless of previous beliefs, or of the facts in the matter.” George Reedy, one of Johnson’s aides, said that he “had a remarkable capacity to convince himself that he held the principles he should hold at any given time, and there was something charming about the air of injured innocence with which he would treat anyone who brought forth evidence that he had held other views in the past. It was not an act… He had a fantastic capacity to persuade himself that the ‘truth’ which was convenient for the present was the truth and anything that conflicted with it was the prevarication of enemies. He literally willed what was in his mind to become reality.” Although Johnson’s supporters found this to be a rather charming aspect of the man’s character, it might well have been one of the major reasons that Johnson could not extricate the country from the quagmire of Vietnam. A president who justifies his actions only to the public might be induced to change them. A president who has justified his actions to himself, believing that he has the truth, becomes impervious to self-correction.
An equation: 40,000 dead young men = 3,000 tons of bone and flesh, 124,000 pounds of brain matter, 50,000 gallons of blood, 1,840,000 years of life that will never be lived, 100,000 children that will never be born (the last we can afford: there are too many starving children in the world already).
The next morning re-supply choppers brought mail, supplies, and Christmas stockings that had been packed by young school kids. Each stocking contained lots of candy and a letter. We took turns passing the letters around. Tex’s parents had sent him a small, artificial Christmas tree. We set it up on the top of our foxhole and decorated it with white shaving cream from our sundry supplies. The shaving cream looked like snow.
Yea though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil...because I am the meanest motherfucker in the Valley.
Your own politicians make our Dr. Goebbels look like a child playing with picture books in a kindergarten. They speak of morality while they douse screaming children and old women in burning napalm. Your draft-resisters are called cowards and ‘peaceniks.’ For refusing to follow orders they are either put in jails or scourged from the country. Those who demonstrate against this country's unfortunate Asian adventure are clubbed down in the streets. The GI soldiers who kill the innocent are decorated by Presidents, welcomed home from the bayoneting of children and the burning of hospitals with parades and bunting. They are given dinners, Keys to the City, free tickets to pro football games.” He toasted his glass in Todd's direction. “Only those who lose are tried as war criminals for following orders and directives.
This is how I see humanity. When enemies come to your country, destroy the countryside and your village, kill your countrymen, your comrades and the defenseless wounded, you have to kill them and defend your compatriots; that is true humanity.
The public is lied to every day by the President, by his spokespeople, by his officers. If you can't handle the thought that the President lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn't stay in the government at that level, or you're made aware of it, a week. ... The fact is Presidents rarely say the whole truth—essentially, never say the whole truth—of what they expect and what they're doing and what they believe and why they're doing it and rarely refrain from lying, actually, about these matters.
Dylan's voice was awful, an aged quaver that sounded nothing like the deep-throated or silky R&B that Dad took as gospel. But the lyrics wore him down, until he played Dylan in that addicted manner of college kids who cordon off portions of their lives to decipher the prophecies of their favorite band. Dad heard poetry, but more than that an angle that confirmed what a latent part of him already suspected. This was was bullshit.
I slowly dug a stand-up foxhole up to my neck using my helmet. I don’t think any of us slept that night. It was the first time in my tour when I wasn’t sure I would make it. I’m not ashamed to say I did a lot of thinking about home and a lot of praying to the man upstairs.
Each day of war takes us farther from all we could hope to be or do. We gain nothing but heartbreak, and lose everything we cherish. Our lives erode and diminish, our children see no future except a calendar of anguish and death. Our only hope for tomorrow is for peace now.
[T]he American Left, in its horror at the Vietnam War, reinvented sin.
I tell the squad a joke: "Stop me if you're heard this. There was a Marine of nuts and bolts, half robot--weird but true--whose every move was cut from pain as though from stone. His stoney little hide had been crushed and broken. But he just laughed and said, 'I've been crushed and broken before.' And sure enough, he had the heart of a bear. His heart functioned for weeks after it had been diagnosed by doctors. His heart weighed half a pound. His heart pumped seven hundred thousand gallons of warm blood through one hundred thousand miles of veins, working hard--hard enough in twelve hours to lift one sixty-five ton boxcar one foot off the deck. He said. The world would not waste the heart of a bear, he said. On his clean blue pajamas many medals hung. He was a walking word of history, in the shop for a few repairs. He took it on the chin and was good. One night in Japan his life came out of his body--black--like a question mark. If you can keep your head while others are losing theirs perhaps you have misjudged the situation. Stop me if you've heard this...
Captain Hank Bracker
During World War II the top secret “Norden XV” or “Blue Ox” otherwise known the Army Airforce’s “Norden M Series Bombsights,” were used up to and including the Vietnam War by all American military aircraft with bomb carrying capabilities. This bombsight was considered a “Canonical Tachometric Design” meaning that it had the ability to measure the aircraft's direction and ground speed. In time the Norden improved its original design by using a computer that constantly calculated the aircraft’s flight characteristic and external wind forces to determine the bomb's impact point. When the B-17 Flying Fortress was designed, it came equipped with a Sperry A-3 Autopilot that only corrected angular deviations in the aircraft’s straight and level course. In time most bombsights were replaced by video displays on the instrument panel. Dumb or gravity bombs were mostly replaced with in-flight guidance bombs, such as laser-guided bombs or those using a GPS system. The last combat use of the Norden bombsight was by the US Navy during the covert “Operation Igloo White” mission when OP-2E Neptune aircraft dropped electronic sensors to detect enemy activity along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Project CHECO Southeast Asia Report was declassified on May 5, 2013.
Funny that the people who aren’t doing the fighting are the most tired of it,” Evan said. “We never knew anything about people being sick of it, or protests, or people thinking we were the bad guys. All our news was censored. We thought everyone would be proud of us, like they are of our dads. We were out there, putting everything on the line every day because that’s what our country told us to do, under conditions that would make a saint afraid to look God in the face, and we were doing our best. I knew there were a few anti-war protests before I left, but I never expected it to be like this…
For all those who shared their stories - and for those with stories yet to be told.
Gary D. Schmidt
Then Lucas would try to turn over, and there would be a low moan, and Christopher would get up, and I knew that Lucas was awake in the dark that he carried around with him all the time. 'What can I do?' Christopher would say. 'You weren't there. You can't do anything.' None of us knew how to make it light.
Combat is fast, unfair, cruel, and dirty. It is meant to be that way so that the terrible experience is branded into the memory of those who are fortunate enough to survive. It is up to those survivors to ensure that the experience is recorded and passed along to those who just might want to try it.
And if this girl, Mai, is half the woman the U.S. Marines seem think she is ... I am damned sure not going to get in her way.
William L. Shirer
We could see in our own country as late as the 1960's and 1970's how good Christian and Jewish men, the pillars of our society, when they acceded to political and military power, could sit calmly and cooly in their air-conditioned offices in Washington and cold-bloodedly, without a qualm or a moral quiver, plan and order the massacre of hundred of thousands of men, women and children and the destruction of their homes, farms, churches, schools and hospitals in a faraway Asian land of poor peasants who had never threatened us in the slightest, who were incapable of it. Almost as savage was the acceptance by most of us citizens of such barbarism, until, toward the end, our slumbering - or should one say, cowardly? - consciences were aroused.
But to a Vietnamese peasant whose home means a lifetime of back-breaking labor, it will take more than presidential promises to convince him that we are on his side.
They were at the wrong place at the wrong time naturally they became heroes
As his boots walked towards the old station, he felt as though he were hallucinating. Scary apprehension increased the beat of his heart and the sweat upon his forehead was cold. The reality of where he stood created a sinking feeling inside of him. An old man everyone called Uncle Tucker once owned this place. His sole existence behind the counter all of the time, day and night. He could have been a creature out of a fairy tale, with his long white beard and equally long white hair. Merlin. The overalls and the ball cap perched upon his head, along with the half-smoked cigar with an endless burning orb positioned in his mouth. It made him a fixture in time. He wondered if Tucker would still be alive. Tucker with his endless stories of the 1960s, the Vietnam War, and flower children. A man that never left a country thousands of miles away where bicycles filled the capital. A man who never left those fields where killing occurred.
You have left too much of yourself in this land for it not to be yours. I, too, will always be yours, for you have left too much of yourself with me for it to be otherwise.
They tell me the letters I write to you and leave here at this memorial are waking others up to the fact that there is still much pain left, after all these years, from the Vietnam War. But this I know. I would rather to have had you for 21 years, and all the pain that goes with losing you, than never to have had you at all.
The heat of a million suns shimmered from the ground and bounced off the triple canopy that loomed above and created undulating waves, that blurred a man’s vision. Knap, looking like a ghost weaved his way forward through the rays of heat.
According to historian Ellen Hammer, he (Pres. Kennedy) was, 'shaken and depressed.' to realize that, 'the first Catholic ever to become a Vietnamese chief of state was dead, assassinated as a direct result of a policy authorized by the first American Catholic president.' At one point an aide tried to console him by reminding him that Diem and Nhu had been tyrants. 'No," he replied. "They were in a difficult position.' They did the best they could for their country.
It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.
I looked at the two enemy prisoners. They were on their stomachs, face down and shaking like everything. I can only imagine the fear they must have felt in their hearts. Thank God we had air superiority on the battlefield.
I mean, remember what the Vietnam War was fought for, after all. The Vietnam War was fought to prevent Vietnam from becoming a successful model of economic and social development for the Third World. And we don't want to lose the war, Washington doesn't want to lose the war. So far we've won: Vietnam is no model for development, it's a model for destruction. But if the Vietnamese could ever pull themselves together somehow, Vietnam could again become such a model―and that's no good, we always have to prevent that.
The mailman carried around huge bags of gloom.
Captain Hank Bracker
The United States became engaged in hostilities with North Vietnam on November 1, 1955, when President Eisenhower deployed the Military Assistance Advisory Group as advisors to train the army of South Vietnam, better known as the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Things escalated in 1960, which was about the same time that Cuba established diplomatic relations with Vietnam, the communist country at war with the United States. In May of 1961 President Kennedy sent 400 United States Army Special Forces personnel to South Vietnam for the purpose of training South Vietnamese troops. By November of 1963 when he was killed, President Kennedy had increased the number of military personnel from the original 400 to 900 troops for training purposes. Direct U.S. intervention started with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August of 1964. As things heated up, the number of American troops started including combat units and escalated to 16,000 troops, just before Kennedy’s death. During the early hours of April 30, 1975, the fighting ended abruptly, as South Vietnamese President Duong Van Minh delivered an unconditional surrender to the Communists. Between 195,000 to 430,000 South Vietnamese civilians died in the war and 50,000 to 65,000 North Vietnamese civilians died. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam lost somewhere between 171,331 and 220,357 men during the war. The Communist military forces lost approximately 444,000 men. It is estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 Cambodians died and another 60,000 Laotians died during this war. In all 58,220 U.S. service members were killed. The last two American servicemen to die in Vietnam were killed during the evacuation of Saigon, when their helicopter crashed. After the United States pulled out of South Vietnam, the two sections of the country came together under Communist rule. Vietnam has since become Cuba’s largest trading partner next to China, and the United States has also returned to a normalized trade relationship with Vietnam.
As modern neurobiologists point out, the repetition of the traumatic experience in the flashbacks can be itself re-traumatizing; if not life-threatening, it is at least threatening to the chemical structure of the brain and can ultimately lead to deterioration. And this would also seem to explain the high suicide rate of survivor, for example, survivors of Vietnam.