Vietnam Assignment

Emily Ketz and Tyeler DelRose


"Thanks" by Yusef Komunyakaa

The narrator discusses how grateful he is to be alive after the Vietnam war. He was thankful for little things that kept him alive.


In the chapter, Dave Jenson and Lee Strunk became close friends in the war and protected each other. They made a pact that if one of them were to get severely injured, the other would end his life for him. When this became a reality for Lee Strunk, he decided he would rather live in a wheelchair than end his life.

Important Passages


"Thanks for the tree between me and a snipers bullet. I don't know what made the grass sway seconds before the Vietcong raised his soundless rifle. Some voice always followed, telling me which foot to put down first" (Komunyakaa). In the poem, he was grateful for the luck he received in the war. This quote showed it could of been anyone who got lucky.


"In late August they made a pact that if one of them should ever get totally fucked up-- a wheelchair wound-- the other guy would automatically find a way to end it." (O'Brien) This quote explains in detail what their promises were to eachother.

"Strunk frowned at the sky. He passed out again, then woke up and said, "Don't kill me."

"I won't," Jenson said.

"I'm serious."


"But you got to promise. Swear to me-- swear you won't kill me."' (O'Brien)

This quote shows how when life or death becomes a choice, most people will want to live, even with disabilities.

Discussion Questions

The authors are trying to convey that the Vietnam war was brutal and cruel to the men fighting it. Death could of happened at any time to anyone there. There were few men who got lucky and made it out alive. War can change a person with one experience. No matter how brave you were, death was one of the biggest fears.


In the war, men were always being transported in and out for many reasons such as death or injuries. Everybody had to try and help out.


The song "Fortunate Son" is a common war song about being drafted into war. Most men were forced to go to Vietnam and serve while rich men bought their way out. Only the lucky men weren't drafted but the luckiest men were the men who survived the war.
Vietnam War to Fortune Son