Psalm 82:3 “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
This is the first in a series of weekly articles that honors our armed forces by focusing on the history of American military sacrifice for the sake of defending freedom around the globe. We begin by saluting the sacrifice made by those who served in Vietnam for the sake of defending freedom against the tyranny of Marxist Communism.
What makes America great can be traced to the famous words spoken in 1775 by one of our founding fathers, Patrick Henry: “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” The American way of life is to defend each person’s inalienable right, given to them by God, to be free, with God as the ultimate authority and not government. It’s the inscription our currency: “In God We Trust, Liberty, and one Nation under God.”
And who is it who defends this God-given freedom and, as our verse this week says, fights for the freedom of those around the globe who cannot fight for themselves? Father Dennis Edward O’Brien of the United States Marine Corp gave us the answer: “It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag. And whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”
Like other states based upon Marxist–Leninist ideology, North Vietnam’s Communist Party embraced a militant atheism that targeted religious expression and individual freedoms. As human rights violations against South Vietnam escalated, America entered the war in 1965 to fight against North Vietnam and the threat of the ‘domino theory’ (if Vietnam fell to Marxist communism, other Asian nations would follow).
Retired Captain Marshal Hansen, USNR and Captain Scott Beaton explain that if not for American military intervention in Vietnam, Communism would have spread throughout Southeast Asia: “The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand stayed free of Communism because of the U.S. commitment to Vietnam. The Indonesians threw the Soviets out in 1966 because of America’s commitment in Vietnam. Without that commitment, Communism would have swept all the way to the Malacca Straits that is south of Singapore and of great strategic importance to the free world. If you ask people who live in these countries who won the war in Vietnam, they have a different opinion from the American news media. The Vietnam War was the turning point for Communism.” (quote taken from the ‘US Wings’ website, ‘Vietnam War: Facts, Stats & Myths’).
From this same website, here are some statistics that highlight the incredible character and courage of our soldiers in Vietnam, who fought for the God-given right to be free from the tyranny of Communism:
1) More than 3 million people, including 58,148 Americans, were killed in Vietnam. Of those American soldiers killed, 61% were younger than 21.
2) A common belief is that the fighting in Vietnam was not as intense as in World War II. The fact is the average infantryman World War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. The average infantryman in Vietnam saw about 240 days of combat in one year thanks to the mobility of the helicopter. One out of every 10 Americans who served in Vietnam was a casualty. Although the percent that died is similar to other wars, amputations or crippling wounds were 300 percent higher than in World War II.
3) Another common belief is that the war was fought largely by the poor and uneducated. The fact is Vietnam Veterans were the best educated forces our nation had ever sent into combat. 79% had a high school education or better.
4) Another common belief is that most Vietnam veterans were drafted. The fact is 2/3 of the men who served in Vietnam were volunteers. Approximately 70% of those killed in Vietnam were volunteers.
5) 97% of Vietnam Veterans were honorably discharged. Of these, 91% of Vietnam Veterans say they are glad they served, and 74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome.
This freedom Americans like me enjoy each day comes at a very expensive price – the precious lives of our courageous military, as exemplified in our Vietnam veterans. Americans should thank the God of the Bible for the blessing of our freedom that comes by our mighty men and women of the armed forces.