dangling from your hand
the severed head of someone
not unlike yourself


War can turn a young man into a monster. Strip him of innocence. Sculpt him into something far removed from what he was before he was plunged into a battlefield he was unprepared to enter. A group of teenage soldiers posed for a photograph with a buddy holding up the severed head of a Viet Cong soldier. They were smiling, like deer hunters after a successful hunt.
The severed head the soldier held above his head belonged to a human being. A person, not unlike himself. The soldier and his buddies didn’t see the their prey, however, as a human being. They saw him as a “monkey.” “A gook.” A canvas of skin painted with their hatred and scorn. In a war they didn’t understand, pumped full of fear and adrenaline, soldiers watched fellow soldiers drop like flies. The carnage beyond comprehension. Like something from a horror movie. Experiences that scar people for life, alter their sense of right and wrong, slay their inner child. The dehumanization of the Viet Cong Soldier was a venting of anger, a way of dealing with the horror movie circumstances forced them to act in. It was a dastardly, inexcusable act. A scene perpetrated over and over again by soldiers on both sides of the battlefield. War can destroy a person’s soul.






Vietnam Ruminations - Robert D. Wilson
Copyright Robert D. Wilson, 2003