Steve Russell: Indian people continue to defend their freedom

"What can I say? I was young. Seventeen when I volunteered for service and nineteen when I volunteered for Vietnam. At the time, I think I would have said that freedom isn’t free. I was young.

Not serving did not seem a live option. My dad served on a tin can in the South Pacific and later with occupation forces in Japan. My grandfather went to Cuba with the first Roosevelt, who turned out to be as nasty an Indian fighter as any who ever lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

While Indians serve in over twice their proportion in the general population, it was also not insignificant to me that an Indian ninth grade dropout had few ways to escape rural Oklahoma. Or that I had bought the bogus rationale for the Vietnam War hook, line, and sinker.

I thought that if the Vietnamese took Saigon today they would take Sausalito tomorrow and isn’t Sausalito pretty close to Tulsa? I had delivered, and therefore read, the Tulsa World and Tribune and the Oklahoma City Oklahoman and Times and I had no way of knowing there were no real newspapers in Oklahoma. I had to act on the information I had.

It never occurred to me that Saigon did not belong to us and we could not save Vietnam from the Vietnamese any more than we can now save Afghanistan from the Afghans."

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: The Price of Free (Indian Country Today 11/16)

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