Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vietnam War From A New Perspective

Growing up during the 60s was an interesting time. As youth we were moving from respecting our parents to we're going to do it our way. We had become intolerant and stubborn. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War was also going on and we didn't know quite how to filter that through the lens of duty to country and patriotism. Our graduating class was the largest in history at the school. By our senior year, with the war going full strength by 1965-1967 we had many who got married, left the country heading to Canada and those who went to serve their country; some returned alive, while others did not. Then there were the rest of us.

Some went about life as usual pretending life was beautiful. Others protested the war with great outbursts of emotions and marches. The Vietnam Era was really an "Era of Mass Confusion". President Kennedy had been assassinated, President Johnson thought he knew how to get a victory, Robert McNamara was running the show. Johnson knew he wasn't going to win and left the White House instead of running for a full term. You know its bad when even the government that is supposed to running things and telling you all is well bails out.

In retrospect, we were at a point in life of just falling apart socially and literally. Our moral values were being shredded with the hippy scenes of Haight-Ashbury and the Jesus Freaks in their vans. Music of Bob Marley, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Stones, Grateful Dead were some of the hot groups of the era. And then there was this war that was in the way of avoiding the new roll-out of our generation. What we have come to realize--the Vietnam War helped define our generation. We were not Generation X, Y or Z ... we were the Vietnam/Hippy Generation.

Television played out the war for us every night on the television. The continual lines of body bags with young men and women forever silenced. Film in military hangers with flag-draped coffins of these same soldiers now back on US or their country's soil. It is painful to remember how so many hated the war and put the hate towards those who were fighting. We hated the government, we hated those fighting the war, we hated our parents, and we hated society that was trying to keep us in line. The 60s was a time of sex, drugs, and rock and roll; finding Jesus through tie-dyed guru's, and hating the world in general. We were extreme brats as a generation, generally speaking.

Laughing through a smile when kids in school come and ask me, what it was like living through that old war, you know, Vietnam, I realize that life has come full circle. Telling the stories of hero's that stood in the jungles of Southeast Asia, booby-traps to kill wonderful people, horrible disease brought on by Agent Orange that men had to suffer for decades with upon return. And then tell them that this is the price for freedom. Then I tell them of the Vietnamese neighbors I had as an adult, one man had been a military leader, tortured just before he and his family escaped on one of the last military flights from Saigon.

When we sit and discuss the current war in Afghanistan and say the same things, "we shouldn't be there". All I have to do is look at the people who made it out at a time when their life was truly about to be taken from them and ask myself, "What is the role of mankind, if not to help others?" Does war help? Such a personal question and as many people that respond, I'm sure there are as many answers.

Hug somebody today, especially a veteran. Tell them thanks for fighting a war when maybe not a lot of people thought it was correct to do so. Write to a veteran or active military person, let them know you care and are thinking about them and the sacrifice they are giving to you and to me.

"All we need is love. la la la la la All we need is love la la la all we need is love, love.... all we need is love."

Let's get the right kind of loving moving on this planet before we kill it and ourselves.

1 comment:

The Surrendered Scribe said...

I was glad to have born after the 60's, everything I read seemed like such chaos and turmoil. I can't imagine all the tension from current events at the time.