Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dr. King and the Vietnam War


It was this week 50 years ago that the country watched the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lead the March on Washington. It was August 28th, 1963. Dr. King rallied the huge crowd of blacks and whites, young and old, peaceniks and patriots from all over the country with his seminal "I Have a Dream" speech. It seemed a time of hope and unity even in the shadow of race riots and the war in Vietnam.

But there was another speech that Dr. King made on April 4, 1967 that would shake the very rafters of the Washington establishment and portend a difficult year ahead for the civil rights and anti-war movements and American soldiers in Vietnam. The speech has been hailed as one of much courage and risk for Dr. King. He was chided, condemned and derided by much of the establishment. He would die at the hands of an assassin on the exact date, one year later- April 4, 1968 only a few short months after the horrible Tet Offensive in  South Vietnam that would see 70,000 combined North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong guerillas attack more than 100 cities in South Vietnam beginning a time of rethinking in the US towards the War that was costing tens of thousands of American lives and untold Vietnamese deaths.

It was the Spring before Tet that Dr. King would make his "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence" speech. I have read numerous transcripts of this speech and found them to be poorly transcribed and terribly lacking. There is simply no way to appreciate this speech except to hear it in Dr. King's words as it was recorded live in Manhattan at the Riverside Church.
Herein we include a transcript from Stanford University archives and the audio of Dr. King's speech from YouTube.

Please take the time to listen to Martin speak. He knew. He was aware of the risk he was taking this day in New York City. He paid with his life. Many will say he was not killed because he was a black man. Many will say he was not killed because he finally spoke out against the War. But, in the end, does it really matter? The country lost a leader, a voice of conscience that we have not heard from any leader since.

Monday, August 19, 2013

VN Veterans from Oz and NZ Give Back Booty

Australian and New Zealand VN Vets Return War Trophies (click here)

The Australian Centre for the Study of Armed Conflict and Society returned war memorabilia to the Vietnamese people under the Operation Wandering Souls Project.

In cooperation with the Marin Ha Noi Centre, the project was launched by Australian and New Zealand Vietnam War Veterans.

The belief in Vietnamese culture that when one dies away from their families or is interred in an unmarked grave that they are "wandering souls."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lipstick on a Pig?


It should come as no surprise to any one of us over the age of 40 that the US Government would suddenly decide- 50 YEARS later that it was a good time to begin talking about the Vietnam war, those who served, those who died, those who volunteered. As if we had all lapsed into premature dementia and forgotten. The truth is that we have not forgotten

A tremendous push is on to gussy up a war that divided a nation for over ten years, that caused the deaths of (at least) 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese. Three million Americans served. Eventually millions of us would protest against the war including many, many of those who returned and created Vietnam Veterans Against the War  The collective amnesia suffered by us all has now morphed, thanks to the current Administration into a sinister campaign to finally address the American War in Vietnam. But not in truth, rather, in some fantasy land that people inhabit. The land of intentional forgetfulness. Well folks, we cannot and will not abide by it. And apparently, we're not alone- thank goodness! Please take a minute to read the following article from OP-ED NEWS by author David Swanson.

From OpEd News- David Swanson (link)

Too many have died, far too many have suffered and are still suffering themselves from wounds and exposure to defoliants and other toxic substances dumped on American military, civilian volunteers and Vietnamese civilians. The offspring of Americans* and Vietnamese exposed to toxins are suffering from catastrophic birth defects such as cancers, scoliosis, respiratory diseases, blindness, deformities and a multitude of other conditions. We just can't walk away from this. As a generation that was lied to, used and mistreated, thrown against one another- we can no longer go along with the myths.

The truth is- the US was "involved" in events in Indochina well before 1961. Records exist showing Americans engaged since shortly after WW II during what was known as the First Indochina War involving the French.
Beginning of American Involvement in Indochina (link)

They Also Served
*It is important for us to note that Americans and Vietnamese were not the only people involved in this conflict...there were 3,000 Australians who served (500 KIA), soldiers from New Zealand, South Korea and a medical team from Spain. During November 2013 we will take a closer look at these people and share their stories. They are not dissimilar to "ours". Many Australian veterans and their children have been afflicted by the exposure of soldiers to defoliants and herbicides.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More on Voices of War Project


Recently we stumbled upon a great story in USA TODAY (see sidebar) about an effort that has begun called Voices of War. It is a project to capture the voices of our Vietnam Veterans and their stories, their memories, their remembrances. The project will last for 4 years and cover all 50 states and territories.

We got the chills when we saw their website Voices of War. Each time we have gone to it and watched some video clips we've cried. It's easy to cry over all of this. Given our personal position on that war crying seems to be the one thing we can do in honor of these guys and women. But our tears have never seemed to wash away the mind-numbing grief.

Some of these vets are, rightfully, still quite angry. We have a friend who is sick of being called a "hero". He tells us that the real heroes were the Vietnamese. We suspect there are many like him. They knew they were merely fodder. Many- not all- have joined organizations like Veterans for Peace.  They regularly protest actions of the US government regarding war, veterans, soldiers, service, the Veteran's Administration, etc., etc. They are ANTI-WAR and PRO-VETERAN.

The Voices of War project needs our help. Opportunities for all levels of funding are available. Please go to the website and check it out. Thank you to the producers and project coordinators for facilitating this wonderful project. In my own humble way- we am full square behind it and will do all we can to promote it.

*We had forgotten about this project since there has been very little "out there". We attempted to contact the Producer and never heard back. This was directly after the article in USAToday...that was in August. Still no response to our email.

As a 501(c)3 tax exempt entity they should strive to communicate with any and everyone who reaches out. But they do not. Government support behind this project? The "gussying" up of the War? Lipstick on a Pig? Hm.
(9 January 2014) -Ed.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Voices Of War

“The urgency is that we're losing these guys. Whenever we get around to it isn't good enough. We need to raise the money so we can do the interviews now, and in the next couple of years.”
— Amy Vanneman, Voices of War producer

Monday, August 05, 2013

Anti-Obamacare Protesters Comparing Themselves to Vietnam War Protesters


In a ridiculous and bizarre effort to mirror the burning of draft cards during the Vietnam war,  members of  FREEDOM WORKS  youth activist group founded by right-winger DAVID KOCH are being encouraged to burn their Obamacare cards. The Washington Post recently reported on this.

I had read the story when it first appeared and, naturally, thought it pitiable and insulting. How to respond? It didn't take long before a Vietnam veteran and retired Air Force aviator did it for me. Via ALTERNET (http://alternet.orgsending out a copy of HAL DONAHUE'S response to this disingenuous charade, in the Huffington Post.

Please avail yourselves of  DONHAUE'S  response, it is far, far better than anything I could have come up with- that's for sure. Thanks and WELCOME HOME, HAL!

GOP Anti-Obamacare Agitators Now Compare Themselves To Vietnam War Protesters | Alternet

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Gentle Re-Introduction


How: Blogs begin with the most recent post. So, to begin at the beginning, simply go up to the top of the page that says VIETNAM: MY WAR TOO and click on it. This should take you to the very first and introductory post which will be at the bottom of the page and then work your way up!

Why: I have "worked" on this blog in my head since I was a teenager. Growing up in the 60s was not easy. Not as easy as the media today wants us to believe. It was a tough time mainly because of the many social, global, and civil upheavals. We had all, as the point soldiers of the TV GENERATION had the horrors of war, assassinations and riots brought into our living rooms by a small screen that soon became known as the "Idiot Box".

Being born in 1951 I certainly came into the world during a time of national cohesiveness and prosperity; after all, we were the BABY BOOMERS- the offspring of the GREATEST GENERATIONOur parents and grandparents had won a world war and brought peace to a troubled world. We were the good guys, right?

I understand that the divisions and opposing opinions of our war- the war in Vietnam- still exist in some quarters. My stake in this is personal and very deep. I have suffered in some ways-as have others, I believe, by a level of survivor's guilt. I watched boys my age- yeah, boys- get shipped off to be maimed, crippled, damaged psychologically, imprisoned and tortured and, more often than not, killed. During those days we were "allowed" to watch the planeloads of flag-draped coffins being unloaded at DOVER AIR FORCE BASE. It was gut-wrenching every time.

Meanwhile, there was fighting in the streets as anti-war protests heated up against a war that seemed would never end. Every nightly news broadcast pictures of hurt people- here and in a place half a world away. The constant barrage of photos and films of mutilated bodies, wounded Americans and tortured beings kept playing over and over and over again.

I feel a moral obligation to stand  up for what I believed then and still believe now- going to war should be an action of last resort. Our nation has made some feeble efforts to recognize the men and women who served in Vietnam. Veterans themselves took the first steps to bring attention to the enormous sacrifice of this generation. It has made a feeble effort to recognize those who opposed it; although most of us have simply faded into the background- afraid of the damnation sure to come. Now is OUR time to attempt to reconcile these fractures somehow.

It wasn't until I discovered that returning soldiers were being ignored when needing treatment both physical and psychological that my eyes were opened. That the government would NOT- and adamantly TO THIS DAY refuses to admit AGENT ORANGE and other defoliants and chemicals had seriously sickened so many soldiers that many died of their illnesses without an ounce of prevention or treatment from the government that tried to blame "the rest of us kids" for a lack of "homecoming".

This simple blog is offered in a sincere effort to open a dialog. I know that I am risking a lot. I have already been attacked for my stand on this war. Many times. And I have been attacked overseas for simply being an American citizen!  But when I attended the dedication of the WALL my sole intention was to pay my respects and I went from veteran to veteran and said these simple, heartfelt words to each one I met:

Four Dead in Ohio