The Things They Carried

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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English As I last recall, I went into Vietnam a sweet innocent kid, but somewhere along the line, things caught up to me and made me accept reality sooner than I wanted. Hi my name is Tim O'Brien. I was one of the few lucky people that took a visit to hell, I mean Vietnam. I should let you know that I could of very easily of skipped out and not gone to Vietnam and instead, go to Canada. I mean I was right on the boarder. I'll just tell the story.

It was right around a month after I had just graduated from Macalester College in the summer of 1968, June 17, 1968 to be exact, the date I was drafted to go and fight in Vietnam for my country. I figured that me of all people shouldn't go and fight in Vietnam. I was to compassionate, to smart.

I was just to good for this war. Seeing how I lived in Worthington, Minnesota, only about 100 miles away from the Canadian boarder, it was an option. When I decided to go to Canada, I just packed and left. When I was about a half mile away from the boarder, I met a man that changed my life, and his name was Elroy Berdahl. We spent six days together at a place called the Tip Top Lodge. On the last day we where together, he brought me on a boat to go fishing. We were on the Rainy River (the river that separates Canada and Minnesota). I remember him talking me out of crossing to Canada. That's when I broke down crying saying that I didn't want to be a coward, running away from something, that's not what I wanted. So then I made a very big decision to...