BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
That’s how two local veterans – one who fought in Vietnam, the other in Afghanistan – are describing the situation currently developing in Afghanistan.
“It is disturbing, to say the least,” said Dick Taylor, a Marine who fought during the Vietnam War. “To see the images that are coming back from Afghanistan is to see history repeating itself.”
For veterans of 20th century wars, this is Déjà vu. For veterans of 21st century wars, it reopens wounds that are still healing.
“When I see that I understand that level of fear of people,” said Chad Garcia an Afghanistan veteran. “What I am surprised at is how fast it happened – our presence there was vital to keep that place going.”
As the conflict unraveled, images of military helicopters landing atop the American embassy to evacuate civilians brought back memories of the ’70s.
“The possibility that the Taliban was going to overrun everything was not unprecedented,” said Taylor. “We watched it with the North Vietnamese in 1975.”
Image after image, headline after headline, these veterans have one thing on their mind – to question the decisions of decision-makers.
“The military needs to prepare better after we leave,” said Taylor. “Elected officials really, really need to think thru before they commit ground troops.”
For Garcia, questioning those in charge is more personal.
“We are repeating history because we allow these politicians who have never served a day in their lives or know what it’s like to have any kind of sacrifice or comradery in a tense situation where lives are on the line,” said Garcia.
After three tours, Garcia holds on to the one memory that he shared with a local, hoping that the hopes he had then can still happen today.
“I told him I had a daughter, he had some daughters,” said Garcia. “I asked him through the interpreter, what is it that you want for your country? He said I want my daughters to learn how to read and go to school.”