The Truth of War
This project, The Truth of War project, was a project with the goal of discovering what is “truth” in war. For this project there were three main aspects. The first aspect was a written essay about the origin of the conflict in Vietnam, the Gulf of Tonkin incident. In this essay we wrote down what we individually thought had actually happened in that incident, since the details are not currently known and it is still a mystery. To prepare for this essay write, we each read up to nine different documents that were primary sources from the incident and from all different perspectives and thoroughly analyzed all of those documents in order to formulate an opinion about what truly happened. For the second aspect of this project, we formed small groups within the class, (three to four members) and conducted an interview of a veteran who had served in the Vietnam War and uploaded the audio from that interview up to Story-corps, a poplar interview sharing website. The third and final aspect of this project was a reading followed by a Socratic seminar on our reading. In class, we read The Things They Carried, a compilation of short stories following a platoon of U.S. soldiers in the Vietnam War. After reading the most important parts of this book, we did a Socratic seminar and spoke of the deeper meaning throughout the book and what it told us of the truth of war. Overall, this project was very interesting and the combination of many different aspects really enlightened my view of “truth” in war and the deeper meaning in conflicts throughout the globe through what the soldiers feel everyday.
For this portion of the project, we had to analyze up to nine different documents relating to the Gulf of Tonkin incident. We had to apply our historical thinking skills to these primary source documents in order to accurately analyze each of them. I personally think that the skill I used best was close reading where I really analyzed the text well and found out very important but slightly hidden information that others might have missed. From what I learned in these documents specifically, it would seem as though war is extremely complex and even more confusing. One example of war being extremely confusing is that literally nobody seemed to know what actually happened in the Gulf of Tonkin, not even the Captain of the U.S. ship that was attacked. In general, this Gulf of Tonkin essay was a very interesting aspect of this project, and I feel as though this was one of the more interesting parts of this project seeing it's clear application to real life actions one might take as a historian or just somebody looking for the truth in any situation.
For this portion of the project, we interviewed a veteran who had served in Vietnam as part of our larger “truth of war” project regarding the Vietnam War. I personally found it very exciting to come up with intricate questions to ask our veteran and also to set up and arrange our interview. My group and I found it much more challenging to actually work with our sound file and get it uploaded to the website we were displaying our work on, StoryCorps. I learned many things from the veteran I interviewed and it really enlightened me, but the main thing I took away regarding the “truth of war” would be that war is infinitely worse than what it is made out to be, and veterans deserve much more respect than what they have gotten in the past as well as what they currently get. One other thought I had concerning the interview was that regardless of the reasoning for war, it is not the soldiers fault and they do not deserve to bear the brunt of hatred for that conflict like what happened in the Vietnam War.
In class, we had a Socratic seminar about a book we had recently read in class called The Things They Carried. This book was a compilation of short stories following a group of soldiers during the Vietnam War. I think that this was one of our best Socratic seminars in awhile because everybody was actually trying to make good points and keep the conversation going. From reading The Things They Carried I have really gotten to peer into what a soldier sees and feels and because of this I feel as though I have been able to find the truth of war in the fact that the truth does not actually have to had physically happened to be a truth in war. I have made many connections between this aspect of our project and the other aspects of the “truth of war” project. One example is how throughout the Gulf of Tonkin incident, our interview with the veteran, and this book I found a similar message about what war is really like and how infinitely confusing and complicated it is.
The final aspect of this project involved each student creating their own truth of war and displaying it. Most people chose to display theirs visually, but I feel as though an art project such as a drawing would not have been able to cover all of what I wanted to say in the detail I wanted to say it in. Because of these limitations, I decided to write two lengthy paragraphs on two conflicts of my choice that I felt tied into my truth of war. My truth of war was that the reasons for war are often unclear and confusing and to display this I chose both the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as well as the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.