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The Chicanos in the Vietnam War

In the history of humankind, the most destructive times are related to wars. Wars are not typically reflected with justice or freedom of choice. An explicit example of it in recent history is the Vietnam War which caused the draft of hundreds of thousands of men (García). There were dissatisfactions among people with the draft process not being fair in terms of social status, age, and race. Even those who were not drafted but willingly joined the military soon realized that there was nothing good about war.

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It is not unusual when the government drafts mostly common people to fight at war. During the Vietnam War, most draftees were either from the working class or recent high school graduates because men from the upper and middle classes “could afford” to evade going to the war (García). Among those who joined the military, many were of Mexican heritage because they could not refuse the draft unless they wanted to prove that they were Americans and deserved citizenship (García). Most of them went to Vietnam hoping to improve their lives and the lives of their families but soon realized that the war would not let them go back home alive.

These days to see the brutality of the Vietnam War and try to understand the feelings of Chicanos, people can watch videos online. One of those videos explaining the harshness of the time is “SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam”. The video starts with a war veteran, Charley Trujillo, as he tells how he was working at his father’s farm after the war, and some officers asked him for his papers. As an answer, he took out his glass eye from his eyeball and said, “Here are your papers” (“SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam”, 00:00:37–00:00:39). This scene brings out a thought that instead of some gratitude, those who went to the war and were lucky to return to America got nothing more than their lives with some missing body parts.

One of the first effects a war has on people is dividing families. After the opening scene, the ” SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam” video shows the life of Mexican people who lived in the same town as Charley Trujillo. Their lives revolved around cotton farms where they had to work all the time from a young age, and the video made me feel like they all were just one big happy family (“SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam”). As Charley talks about how he and all his friends who had just turned eighteen were proud to join the army to fight in the Vietnam War, the background music becomes less joyful (“SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam”). When the music ended and the people in the video started talking about how the military and serving their country were not what they had expected, I felt anxious. And then I felt angry when Charley said that they “were taught to be very violent,” but no one taught them how to “turn off that conditioning” when they returned home (“SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam”, 00:16:37–00:16:43). As a result, the soldiers could not adapt to live their lives without the war.

To conclude, the main thought I realized upon watching the video is that I would never understand what the actual participants of the war feel. Both the virtual exhibit and the video made me think that if war does not take away people’s lives, it will take their hope. War is never a good solution, and its harshest effects would always be on common people.

Works Cited

García, Mario. “Welcome to the Chicano Moratorium Virtual Exhibit.” UCSan Diego. Web.

“SOLDADOS: Chicanos in Vietnam.” YouTube, uploaded by SpikedGaming, 2013.

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