Saturday May 2, 2015
It was 1967. The war in Vietnam was raging.
I was 24 years old, just out of graduate school in New York City. Cambridge University had accepted me to do a doctorate history.
But no. In a burst of youthful patriotism, I concluded it was every citizen’s duty to join the armed forces in wartime. So I enlisted as an infantry officer candidate in the US Army and was packed off to basic training.
Life can only be understood in retrospect. With the wisdom of hindsight, most people consider the 20-year long Vietnam War a terrible mistake, even a crime. But at the time, US military involvement in Indochina appeared to make sense. It certainly did to me. I was proud to wear my nation’s uniform.