Essay 3 revised - Dunn 1 English 101 Essay 3 December 8...

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Dunn English 101 Essay 3 December 8 2009 The Vietnam War began in 1959 with a communist attempt by the Vietcong and North Vietnam to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. South Vietnam, led by Diem, was backed by the United States in its efforts to impede the attacks of the communist North. On April 30, 1975, the fifteen-year battle came to an end when an invasion of North Vietnamese troops led to the fall of Saigon. (Battlefield 4) In the past twenty-five years, since the end of the war, there has been an explosion of Vietnam War literature. Through “personal narratives which focus on the experiences of the combat infantryman—the grunt or foot soldier” (Farrell 1), contemporary writers, such as Tim O’Brien, use “the everyday experience of soldiering...[as] the basis for ‘understanding’ the war” (2). In his story, O’Brien reflects on various physical and psychological things, such as the letters, the fear, and the imagination, that the American soldiers carried while facing the brutal struggles of the Vietnam War. Among the essential physical items, such as weapons and medicine, which were carried by the American soldiers in the Vietnam War, letters to soldiers from people back home, in the United States, were considered the most valued. The strong desire to receive a letter from home can be linked to the widespread feelings of homesickness and isolation among the young soldiers. A letter from home was a soldier’s “precious link with the real world” (Westheider 91). It was only through these letters that soldiers could receive important information about the health and wellbeing of their families and friends back in the states. Also, these letters were their only link to society as a whole. Unlike World War II, the Vietnam War was not widely supported 1
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2 by the people back in the United States. It was through the letters that soldiers often received information about war protests and the general lack of support from home. Unfortunately, This deeply affected the morale of the soldiers. In addition, Because the soldiers believed “that the people back home would have know idea what they were talking about or going through,” (Longley 91) they often refrained from writing about their Vietnam war experiences. Finally, one of the most popular themes of letters sent to and received from back home was love. Whether
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