The things they still carry
by Thang Nguyen 555
It’s the opposite of reading Bao Ninh‘s The Sorrows of War in English.
Both novels had the same setting, same period, same conflict, same ending (went down with whatever they were carrying, on their bodies and on their minds).
Sorry winner and lucky loser.
All the while, the sound track for that same period was Proud Mary (you don’t have to worry, for people are happy to give).
In The Things They Carried, supplies were chopper-ed in (chocolate, cigarettes and C-rations). The military industrial complex was “happy to give”, from Hartford, from MN etc…
Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river.
I could barely get through the first few chapters, reading about the members of this fictitious company as they went down, with the things they carried (one of them even carried sleeping pills – for eternal rest).
I have seen the things people here in VN carry, on their shoulders, on their scooters.
But inside, unless they sit down and tell me, the hidden things that they still carry are scary.
Those with vivid memories are dying one by one, on both sides of the Pacific.
We got scholarly volumes and doctrine (Powell) on the conflict.
And we eventually got Burger King and Dunkin here in VN. It’s like the tunnel is finally closed with sign which says “Go away, leave the past alone”.
For here or to go?
It’s Future Land now. Happy Land. Disney Land. Dream Land. It has to be.
Yes. Young students carry a lot with them today: book bags, smart phones, eye glasses, cigarettes, lighters, even IDs. No dog tags. No Zippos. No memories.
Just a bunch of “nic’s” and passwords. Everything is in the Cloud. On Facebook. On Drop Box and Mail Box.
To search for them. Easy. Just Google. In Vietnamese, or English. No translation needed. Sorrows of War or The Things They Carried. Instant access.
Perhaps that war, Vietnam that was, was the last ”hardware-driven” conflict.
No wonder, the things they carried, seemed awfully heavy and burdensome when viewed from a light-weight I-pad.