To give some context, I am only 23 years old. I have no idea what it felt like to live during the Vietnam War in the 60’s and 70’s. But I am really into music, and when I read or hear anything about the Vietnam war, this song comes to mind immediately, as it is now an iconic moment of the both the 60’s and the public unrest caused by the war. So naturally, this was playing in my head all the way through the story.
After reading “The Things They Carried,” what struck me most was how Jimmy Cross and his soldiers carried the weight of the war on their minds just like they did the rifles on their shoulders, just “humping” through the Vietnamese swamps with the the sounds of the war machine surrounding them at all times. And to me, it’s astounding how well Hendrix carries the pain and misery of war spliced in between the hope and perserverance of our National Anthem, each powerful, echoing phrase followed by the dreadful sound of bombs falling and simulated gunfire. Hendrix’ rendition carries through all the obnoxious guitar effects just as Jimmy Cross humps through the swamps of Vietnam carrying his possessions and his burdens.