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Representation of American Military Involved in The Vietnam War

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As the Vietnam War progressed, the American military was sent to aid in preventing the spread of communism. In Amy Phan’s collection of short stories We Should Never Meet, many Americans view their flying to South Vietnam to fight alongside the Vietnamese and save Amerasian babies as an act of heroism as seen in “Bound.” During the aftermath of the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese viewed Americans as “arrogant who expect to be treated like royalty” (Phan 222) for their service and their wealth while harboring a resentment to Vietnamese born from American soldiers in “Homeland.”

When Bridget leaves her family to help those affected by the war, she sees the extent of how damaged the people are. She is needed to care for the Amerasian babies. Over the course of “Bound”, Bridget is needed to care for the children with her medical knowledge and refuses to come back home to her husband and young daughter on several occasions. Her husband, Ronald, at first understands Bridget’s reason to stay being that the children “don’t have anyone else” and views her as a brave woman for helping the children in a war zone, especially with the Vietnam War seen as “unpopular” (Phan 191).

As time passes, Bridget feels more of a responsibility to care for the children, not only to serve as a doctor, but because the children are “children of the U.S. Military…products of [the Vietnam War]” and “rejected by their culture,” while Ronald begins resenting Bridget for “leaving her family for strangers” (Phan 194, 197). When Ronald again tells her to come home, she responds back by stating she is needed to care for the Amerasian children, but states in anger how many of the children were part of the war “because of American soldiers who couldn’t keep their pants on” (Phan 200). Bridget’s glimpse of the Vietnam War is that of an American volunteer seeing the destruction the U.S. Military is bringing to the citizens of Vietnam. She sees herself as one who can save the Amerasian children from the destruction of a controversial war. Bridget’s desire to save the young lives is seen especially when she wants to adopt a young Vietnamese boy, Huan, rescued during Operation Babylift. When told she cannot adopt Huan, Bridget is furious as she had already “claimed” Huan as her own and feels how her adopting Huan would appease and rebuild her family back in America (Phan 204). Bridget’s naivety of seeing Huan as fixing her family parallels to how the U.S. Military was naively seen as to be Vietnam’s savor, but only caused Vietnam and its people destruction and grief.

Following the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Phan addresses the impact the war had on the Vietnamese in “Motherland.” When Huan arrives with his adopted mother in Vietnam to learn about his history, he is angry at the country which “didn’t want him….wishes he didn’t exist” and expresses hate toward the country which made him an outcast (Phan 233). His anger is further expressed after being harassed by a Vietnamese officer where Huan’s friend Mai explains, “If they can tell you’re at least part-Vietnamese, they’re going to have issues with you.” (Phan 222) Despite “Homeland” taking place twenty years after the war, Phan illustrates how raw the pain for the Vietnamese and the state of the Delta villages where many live in poverty “worse than the homeless [Huan and Mai] saw in the city” (Phan 236) causing the reader to sympathize with the Vietnamese and understand the resentment against the people who destroyed their lands and who are viewed as “rude and arrogant to come back [to Vietnam]” (Phan 222) while trying to rebuild their lives. This is understandable as Americans only viewed the war in the comforts of their homes courtesy of television and on newspaper headlines while the Vietnamese experienced loss, destruction, and death firsthand, and were ultimately the ones who paid the price for American interference.

America’s response to get involved in the Vietnam War was met with controversy as lives and homes were destroyed. The greatest impact was put upon Vietnam and its population of Amerasian babies who were brought into the world only to become outcasts; blamed for being part of a nationality that killed many of their own kind under the guise of being saviors and therefore responsible for the annihilation of their own country. Witnessing an American, the Vietnamese are resentful, afraid, defensive, and harassing Americans; attempting to regain the power lost to them all those years ago and live in relative peace, as their nation has been a part of countless wars before. It was easy for Americans to assume Vietnam needed help to win the war and winning the war for them would guarantee freedom and democracy. What wasn’t easy was the U.S. Military realizing the real damage brought upon Vietnam and how we couldn’t win the war, or coming to terms with popular opinion of the war—it was something we couldn’t fix. The losses were too great to overshadow whatever benefits could have occurred.

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Representation Of American Military Involved In The Vietnam War. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from
“Representation Of American Military Involved In The Vietnam War.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
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