Reprising a post from 2010, in the auld blogspace.
Thirty-five [Forty-six] years ago today, I was an about-to-graduate high school senior. State wrestling champ, All-state football player, with a scholarship offer from the University of Missouri. Ready to move on to the next phase. Things were running smoothly.
I walked down the stairs to where my bedroom was, turned left, and the Auld Soldier was sitting on the couch, watching TV. He was four months away from retiring after 27 years, two wars, a Silver Star, BSM w/v, and seven Purple Hearts.
He never noticed me.
He was watching the news.
He was watching the fall of Saigon, streaming into the family room.
I just went to the couch, sat next to him, and took his hand and we watched. I’ve only one other time seen that look on his face. The morning Mom died. The ghosts in the room watched with us.
For many of our readers, the Vietnam War is an item from the history books. For others, like me, it’s a life event experienced at one degree of separation, others, at a greater remove.
And for a not insignificant number of us – zero degrees of separation. Callow youth became grizzled vets well before their 21st birthday.
It is that group I honor today. The ones among us who went there and have that t-shirt and polished the car with it many many times.
You did your best with what you had. The failure lies rather farther up the chain.
Perhaps as important – many of you made it your passion to insure that the newest group of grizzled vets didn’t come home from their war to the same reception you got returning from yours. And as many if not more of you have spent many long hours, days, months, years and dollars taking care of your brothers and sisters who didn’t come all the way home. Taking care of those the nation would rather have forgotten.
I’ve read Frances FitzGerald’s paean to the Viet Cong, Fire in the Lake. I still have the Auld Soldier’s copy. During the Fall of Saigon, she was interviewed for the Union College student newspaper [now-dead link removed].
FitzGerald won the Pulitzer Prize for her passionate embrace of the oppressed peasants simply striving for a better life free of imperialist hegemony, who apparently wanted nothing more than to establish a anarcho-syndicalist commune and take it upon themselves to take turns acting as a sort of executive officer for the week. She confidently predicted that the new, enlightened rulers of Vietnam would soon have free, multi-party elections.
How’d that work out for you, Ms. FitzGerald? [In the fullness of time, the Vietnamese have clearly advanced their situation, after the predictable aftermath of a communist overthrow, and more rapidly and thoroughly I expect than most of us anticipated. Good on them]
I’m not here to debate the ups and downs and rights and wrongs.
I’m here to honor those among who went and came back.
And, those who didn’t. The ghosts on our shoulders. I have a few ghosts from that era too. This one’s for you, too, Dad.
Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam of the fallen of Vietnam. And those who have since gone down the road to meet their buddies at Fiddler’s Green.
… if you think only 14 congressional GOP members deserve an ‘A’ grade, and 136 deserve an ‘F’ – perhaps you aren’t really a Republican any more? I’m not a fan of Trump the man, too much bombast and bloviation, but as far as the Trump Administration… didn’t hate that nearly as much as I thought I was going to, much less the current sock puppet in charge.
Never-Trump Grift Is Back: Republican Accountability Project Is Even More Tone Deaf, Ridiculous, and Irrelevant
But I’m improperly credentialed, and being white heteronormative male, I personally am the actual source of All That Is Wrong Since Moses, so no one listens to me. 😉
DO BLACK PEOPLE ENJOY BEING TOLD THEY ARE WEAK AND DUMB? THE ELECT HOPE SO.
Of course, John McWhorter is Uncle Tomishly inauthentically pigmented, what with keeping his slave name and all, too.
…I find this amusing and accurate. Especially with the porn-‘staches popular in my 80s army. There are hygiene and gas-mask sealing issues with beards, to be sure, but it’s still funny. Just as it’s funny how panty-twisted some beardo soldiers get on the topic – Sikhs and such get a pass on their passions on the topic, as it comes from a different source.
…looks a lot like just plain old elite contempt for the powerless. Which can be racist, surely. But it can also just be contempt for people with no money and no political power.
These government bureaucrats, planning boards, politicians, and wealthy business owners saw the East Street Valley residents as obstacles to progress. They stood in the way of allowing wealthier suburban commuters easy access to commerce.
Salena Zito on “Ancient and Lonely Urban Monuments.”
There is a fair enough argument to make that it is also elitism that is physically built into some of our highways, that dismissive contempt for working-class and low-income families of every color has always played a decisive role in infrastructure development and city planning. Because of that contempt, they could not stop the demolition of their communities, and lord knows they tried.
There is also an argument to be made that the seeds of our resentment we hold toward those cultural curators, such as the planning commissions that demolished the heartbeats of these neighborhoods, began when our parents and grandparents fought and lost the hard battles to save their communities. The division between insiders and outsiders continues to divide the nation.