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Fallen Angels

             Bertrand Russell could not have been more accurate by saying, “War does not determine who is right–only who is left.” This proves to be true in the Vietnam War. In the 1950s the United States began to send troops to Vietnam; throughout the following 25 years, the ensuing war would create some of the strongest tensions in United States history. During this time frame, an estimated 2.5 million people were killed for an unknown cause. United States soldiers were fighting the North Vietnamese, and none of them knew a valid reason why; after all, the Congs were not much different from the U.S. Soldiers. Many of the American soldiers didn’t come home from Vietnam, and the ones who survived only survived because they learned to contend with the harshness of war. Walter Dean Myers wrote Fallen Angels, a novel that realistically recounts the day to day lives of a group of solders in the Vietnam War and the way they cope with reality of it; faced with the horrors of war, each soldier must either reconcile reality with his personal beliefs or cling steadfastly to comfortable illusions of absolute morality.
             Richie, unlike many of the other soldiers, chooses the difficult first option, struggling to make sense of his experiences and refusing to turn away from the difficult questions they raise. Richie's fellow soldiers, who are too afraid to come to terms with the reality of their situation, warn him against what they call his dangerous thinking. Each soldier has his own way of blocking out the uncomfortable thoughts and nagging doubts. Richie’s way to temporarily escape reality is to send letters to his family that he knows he will really not send. He recognizes that he is alone in his search for truth, reflecting that “the questions kept coming and nobody wanted to deal with them.”(p.129), Yet just as his friends cannot bear to look the reality head on, Richie cannot bear to ignore it.