The Things They Carried

The Interwoven, Unfathomable & Unstoppable Truths

It is said, “Once a Marine, Always a Marine” and the United States Marine Corps motto is “Semper Fidelis” or if you are a Marine you say, “Semper Fi!”   I am a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, I can attest to the fact that in very many ways that statement is true, as is our motto, please note I wrote “our motto” vs. their motto, as I still very much am a US Marine!   What is true about that statement?   Tim O’Brien’s fictional book, The Things They Carrie, indirectly and in unexpected ways answers the question about the Marines.   Since the vast majority of people have not been in combat, O’Brien uses vivid stories, which are fiction mixed with facts, to bring his own personal authenticity and truthfulness of the Vietnam War to the public from the perspective of a soldier that was there on the ground fighting for his life.   O’Brien has more than one central, vital, or fundamental “truth” of the Vietnam War.   The most essential “truth” of the war to O’Brien is that there is an interwoven thread between the unfathomable reality of the war and the unstoppable “true facts,” especially when they are not the same things.
It is very challenging, but especially complex when dealing with war or combat issues, to explain them accurately and truthfully to a person who has never been through them.   John Ranson’s, Andersonville Diary does an excellent job of explaining this point.   “Those who have had any such experience as the author will see its truthfulness at once, and to all other readers it is commended as a statement of actual things by one who experienced them to the fullest” (O’Brien – front matter).   This quote puts in plain words, that if you have been in combat or at the very least in the military, you will understand O’Brien’s book as truth.   The Diary also clarifies if you have not been in combat, take the book as truth because the author has been through combat.   Ranson’s quote shows the significance that O’Brien...