Herr emphasizes how the American military ravaged the jungles of Vietnam. More importantly, he uses the jungle to depict the devastation American soldiers did to Vietnam. “..we never announced any policy at all..” America was in Vietnam to search and destroy anything that whiffed of Communism. Herr describes the damage of the ecosystem in a way that displays pride in being an American. “Employing saturation-bombing technqiues…” There is a vivid description on the imprint of America’s patriotism and the destruction of Vietnam’s ecosystem. The jungles of Vietnam becomes a character as Herr capitalizes Nature. The true enemy is not the North Vietnamese, but the jungle itself. Herr believed if they destroyed the jungle, they can destroy the VC. “Forget the Cong, the trees would kill you…” (Herr 66). Not only were the Americans fighting VC, but they also had to fight against the ecosystem. The notion that destroying everything would lead to crippling of the enemy was embedded in each solider’s minds. It was out of patriotism and pride that took over the Vietnam.
The unfamiliarity of Vietnam terrain coupled with the terror of it was the highlight between opinions and reality. Herr saw America’s influence as an oppressive violence that destroyed Vietnam. It was vital to America that the ecosystem of Vietnam be tamed.
Herr’s graphic description of bombing of the jungles provides an outlet for readers to sympathize with Vietnam veterans. What they saw would never leave their minds until they die. The focal theme in Dispatches reflect the pain of enduring traumatic memories in Vietnam Veterans. Bertrand Russell stated, “War does not determine who is right- only who is left.” For those that survived Vietnam War and came back home, it was tough to readjust to America’s culture.
In “The Things They Carried”, the main theme was the emotional baggage American soldiers endured after the war. O’Brien’s vivid description of what each of the soldiers physically carried helped identify what each soldier emotionally endured during and after the war. The most common baggage in all soldiers was the fear of not carrying the traditional expectations of their fathers that served in WWII. They were scared to be labelled as a coward who lacks masculinity (O’Brien 22). Nothing was more terrifying to the American soldiers than not supporting the war. The young generation of soldiers were more concerned about upholding their family values than death. To these young soldiers, they didn’t care about valor, courage, or bravery. It was about hiding their shame and spinelessness. All the physical things they carried served as an icon for the emotional and mental baggages each soldier would endure after the war. For instance, Lieutenant Cross blames Ted Lavender’s death on his fantasy with Martha. That emotional baggage carried by Jimmy Cross not only stayed with him throughout the war, but he also had to endure Ted’s death after the war. The emotional baggages that the soldiers were carrying throughout the war served as the foundation for what each soldier were about to endure. All the physical things they carried shifted to emotional baggages. The greatest fear of being a coward and feminine was the heaviest baggage of all. Fear was the constant companion. In conclusion, it was the American people who instilled their beliefs in the American government that ravaged Vietnam to imprint America’s growth in both military and political power.
At the beginning of 39:25, a soldier describes how fear would cause one to do anything out of their norm. The American government mentally drilled the notion that the Vietnamese were enemies of peace to the US. Naturally, the soldiers thought they and their family were being threatened. Almost anyone that believes their lives and their loved ones’ lives are in danger would proceed to eliminate those that threaten peace. The negative propaganda US embedded into the peoples’ minds started to reveal the…