Saturday, May 01, 2010

Memories erupt when you drop the V-bomb

Among people of a certain age, you cannot utter the "Vietnam" bomb without causing an explosion of emotions.

That "certain age" comes under the banner of Baby Boomer. There were many of us in this cohort last Wednesday night as another member of this complicated and conflicted group -- Dr. Bill Ayers -- spoke at the UniWyo Sports Complex at UW in Laramie.

Vietnam, Viet Nam, "Nam." Historians call it the Vietnam War, Second Indochina War, the Vietnam Conflict or the American War. Vets have their own terms.

The war ended April 30, 1975 -- 35 years ago yesterday -- with the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. May 4 marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings.

Outside the sports complex, a protester too young for VN held a sign blaming Dr. Ayers for the deaths of 10,000 G.I.s. Not sure why "10,000" and not the 58,000 who officially perished in the conflict, not counting the many thousands who perished when they came home.

Inside the complex, fellow Dem Bobby Marcum wore his Vietnam Veteran cap. He had seen the sign outside and said to me that freedom of speech was one of the causes he was fighting for in Vietnam.

During the Q&A, one Baby Boomer came to the microphone and asked Dr. Ayers if he had apologized for his "terrorist acts" with the Weather Underground. The man said that he knew people who went to Vietnam but he himself did not go due to the fact he was on campus "partying and chasing girls."

Ayers replied that he had apologized many times, yet he became involved with the Vietnam resistance because the U.S. -- his country -- was murdering Vietnamese civilians at an alarming rate. This involvement was an outgrowth of his civil rights activities.

Who's the bad guy here -- Campus Party Boy or Bill Ayers? Both? Neither?

Who's to blame for this never-forgotten forever war? Shall we spread it around among demonstrators and frat boy partiers and chickenhawks (e.g. Dick Cheney and Karl Rove), and draftees and draft dodgers and College Young Republicans and SDS members and SDS FBI informants and misguided generals and oh-so-many politicians such as McNamara's best-and-brightest and Harry T and Ike and JFK and LBJ and RMN? Me?

Not so simple to choose, especially if you have your own complicated history of that era. To read fragments of my own "Conscription Chronicles," go to my web page.

P.S.: "The Forever War" is the title of a fine 1974 sci-fi novel by Vietnam veteran Joe Haldeman.

1 comment:

bigfrank said...

So many things make me mad about this war. One is that the great democrats sent us there while the rest of the government fought to keeps us there. While being in the military though I learned much about this war. While the military learned about how new wars would be fought we also learned that most politicians need to stay out of wars. Let the people who are to run wars run them. Obama isn't a general and is taking this Bush debacle and making it much worse instead of getting us out like he promised.
Then when I was in the military during Clinton's crap to learn we are just tools in nation building and pawns in their little games to switch attention away from them when they get in trouble (Blow gate).
Have you ever sat down with a Vietnam vet and talked about what went on over there? What they had to do so they could come home? What they go though everyday of their life now? I have become very close to the generation that went though that war just because I can't stand my generation. What this country did to the boys that got drafted and HAD to go and fight is inexcusable. When they should have been protesting the government and then welcoming back the people who had to go they was instead fighting the brave men that had no choice in the matter.
Makes me sick and now our great grand government is sending us back to war over lies and a new joker is in charge with all this change promised and all we are getting is told what to do and what we now have to buy.
No thanks keep the change and let us as a person decide what is best for us. Fighting for others freedom when they don't want it and ours is getting stolen from is isn't an answer. Instead we need to take a page out of the old Romans war book. The leaders that send us to war are also out front of the war head leading the war. That would have stopped many of these wars the politicians need to line their pockets.