Prompt: Soldiers stricken by guilt attempt to find redemption. Discuss. Contention: That soldiers’ justify their actions and regain a sense of themself when seeking to dissolve their guilt in war. Why do soldiers attempt to morally comprehend the conduct they are forced to participate in? In Edelman’s text Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam the readers are instantaneously thrown into letters depicting how soldiers struggle with their humanity after the abhorrent acts of war they are conscripted to partake in.
Seeing this, the readers are forced to see the emotional sides of the soldiers and cannot deny that it is difficult to cope with the burden placed upon them, showing the reader that the soldiers will attempt to justify their actions and repent for them. Soldiers carry a hardship when they kill a person. In the text, the reader will begin to understand that a soldier will attempt to redeem themselves after committing the most heinous of acts. This is illustrated in the letter by George Williams, writing “There are a few kids who hang around, some with no parents. I feel so sort for them. I do things to make them laugh.
And they call me ‘dinky dow. ’” Highlighting his redeeming qualities, Williams shows the reader how even after he killed some of the Vietnamese, he attempts to redeem himself by making the children laugh and justifies his actions as he wants to give these children a democratic future. Edelman includes this letter so the reader may see the effect of war on our humanity, showing Williams’s morals “shining through the crucible” as John McCain stated in the Introduction. Williams’s sympathy towards the children, along with his actions to make them laugh, shows his humanity shining through and his need to redeem himself due to his conduct. I feel I may have killed some of their parents and it makes me feel sick to know they have to go on with nothing” writes Daniel Bailey showing his guilt, not towards the parents he killed, but towards the children who have “nothing. ”
The remorse shown by Bailey for killing their parents conveys his strong morality and ethics even though he is plagued with guilt for his undertakings. Bailey continues, writing to his mother “When you go to church, I want you to give all the people you see this address and tell them to send anything they can, like old clothes and anything. Bailey’s request to his mother to help the children illustrates his strong sense of morality, as it would be possible for him to completely forget and abandon the children, yet he does all he can to help them.
Edelman includes this piece to show how war effects our humanity, something John McCain includes in his Introduction “War is oppressive, but what humanity it does not take from its victims only shines more brightly in its crucible,” showing how a soldier’s humanity, even when stricken with guilt, may attempt to rehabilitate themselves by helping others, relieving their guilt. They liked high kill ratios; it meant they were doing something right” Edelman writes at the beginning of chapter 3: Beyond the Body Count. Obviously, they were not doing it right as many soldiers emotionally and psychologically during their time of duty. This is why soldiers attempt to comprehend their actions. It gives them an escape to be human again, not a soldier fighting a “foreign war” and restores their humanity. Only through redeeming themselves can they move on and escape the war that surrounds them day by day.