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I detested their blind, thoughtless, automatic acquiescence to it all, their simpleminded patriotism, their prideful ignorance, their love-it-or-leave-it platitudes, how they were sending me off to a war they didn’t understand and didn’t want to understand. I held them responsible. By God, yes, I did. All of them – I held them personally and individually responsible – the polyestered Kiwanis boys, the merchants and the farmers, the pious churchgoers, the chatty housewives, the PTA and the Lions club and the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the fine outstanding gentry out at the country club. They didn’t know Bao Dai from the man in the moon. They didn’t know history. They didn’t know the first thing about Diem’s tyranny, or the nature of Vietnamese nationalist, or the long colonialism of the French – this was all too damn complicated, it required some reading – but no matter, it was a war to stop the Communists, plain and simple, which was how they liked things, and you were a treasonous pussy if you had second thoughts about killing or dying for plain and simple reasons.

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