Barber’s Adagio for Vietnam

16 Mar

Samuel Barber’s adagio for strings featured in Oliver Stone’s 1986 film, Platoon, set in what Westerners refer to as the Vietnam War, and Vietnamese of my age and above call – with no quarrel from me – America’s War of Imperial Aggression.

This YouTube clip drew many comments from Americans who fought, or whose close kin had fought, either in ‘Nam’ or their country’s subsequent wars of imperial aggression. Here’s one that resonates with me:

As our helicopter lifted away from our company outpost in Kandahar province in 2011, I heard this song in my head and tears flowed down my cheeks. In one year, I had seen men I was responsible for perish. I had seen the cruel suffering of the local population and at times had participated in their suffering. Shrapnel had found its way into my legs, and I witnessed the most heroic and selfless acts by men who were little more than boys. We just tried to survive, and not everyone did. Some lost their lives, some their limbs, and many their minds. I pray I may never have to kill or harm another human being as long as I live. When that helicopter left and carried me on the first leg of the long journey home, I felt as though we had all left something there. I could not think of what that was until years later, but eventually I realized it was our innocence. May peace and mercy prevail in a world so easily consumed by hatred and fear. May God forgive us all for the hardness in our hearts

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