Andrew Polk

Thinking about Vietnam

I’ve never killed anyone. Thank God. I’ve never needed to and I was never asked to. I have been lucky so far. However, I have friends who were not so lucky. Several of my friends had the misfortune of serving in the Vietnam War, and those, who saw combat, were part of the killing there. I was lucky. I wasn’t drafted.

I might have joined the military if it weren’t for the circumstances that came my way. As a kid, I was naïve, and part of me saw war as an adventure. My father, having served in World War II, always told me that the best way to “grow up” was to serve your country in wartime. Out of respect for him, I considered ROTC officer’s training for a brief period while in college, I probably would have signed up, but the officer in charge only laughed when I asked if the military had a place for artists. He thought I was making a joke. Besides, due to my being in a rock band, I wore my hair long, and my appearance did not meet the military’s standards. I was probably more associated with the “Anti-War Liberals” than the “God and Country Conservatives” because of my appearance, but intellectually, I was pretty middle of the road in my politics and opinions.