J.D. over at Mouth of the Brazos and I traded comments not long ago about how the whole Vietnam War, combat veterans like us, refugees and all, finally are on the shelf. It’s all mothballed news at best now.
I see it in the pitiful sales of my two books on the subject, which seem to have peaked at 164 for the Vietnam War short stories and 26 for the novel. Both have been outpaced by my Civil War novel (194) alone. And this year’s new Civil War history, now at 51 sales, has outrun the Vietnam novel and is on pace to eclipse the short stories as well. Not that my work is the best indicator of a trend, but it is one.
Neither J.D. or I created the political one-year combat tour of the Vietnam War. But neither of us would have liked to be in the position of the all-volunteer combat veterans now. Many of them already have served three or four years in combat assignments and the rise of ISIS suggests they have many more ahead of them. They already match the World War II generation which served for the duration.
All that occurred to me reading this WaPo piece about the 101st Airborne Division emplaning near their barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for a recent flight to Afghanistan. The pundits are still trying to figure out what Wormtongue’s secretive administration intends to do with them. Whether they will guard facilities or patrol. If he even knows himself. He isn’t much of a planner.
It also occurred to me that nowadays when some sergeant addresses a group of soldiers as “ladies and gentlemen,” he’s not trying to be cute, as he was in our day when few women served and none were in combat. He means it quite literally. And both the ladies and the gentlemen deserve all of our attention now.