Wednesday, July 27, 2011

99th reason to blog for peace: War is not normal

I'm not sure, but I think I was late getting started, so I'm going to go ahead and give my 99th reason to blog for peace.

This morning while glancing at the Morning Joe between dressing, eating, blogging, and brushing my teeth; I heard Marvin Kalb say that President Obama has no reason to be internally affected by the Vietnam conflict since he was 13 when it ended. Kalb had taken part in a symposium Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama and had a lot more to say, but I want to talk about that one statement.

I was about 14 when the Vietnam conflict "ended." My friends were not drafted and did not serve. I was 'too young' to care, right?

But I did. It was an integral part of my life from my earliest memories until the end of the war. If my friends didn't serve, the boyfriends of my babysitters did. I heard songs against the conflict and songs in favor of it. Everyone thought about it, more than we do now.

When I was in kindergarten, we sang, "God Bless America" and my teacher said, "Let's sing loud enough so that our boys in Vietnam will hear us and know what they are fighting for." I sang really loud, and I think I truly believed they could hear me. And that I was what they were fighting for.

My uncle served in the Navy in Vietnam. I don't remember being afraid for him. I remember that he wrote really great letters to me. He also wrote letters to my aunt, his fiance. I didn't understand why she read my letters but I couldn't read hers. I never said I was a bright kid.

Every night at around supper time, we'd watch the news. There was only one television (which did not appear to have an 'off' button) and there were three or four channels. And on every one (except PBS which showed the June Bug show) there was the nightly news. Walter Concrite (as I called him --- see note about brightness above) or Hunkley-Brinkley (ditto on the note) told us the same thing every night. Over film of soldiers & sailors & airmen fighting & marching & flying, they would announce the death toll. This many Americans died today. This many Vietnamese. Day in and day out.

In 1968, I was eight years old, watching television with my father. There was "Breaking News." Back then, breaking news meant something important had happened and not that, for instance, Michael Jackson is still dead. WC or H-B or whoever announced that the Soviet Union had invaded Czechoslovakia. My dad dropped his teeth (really, he did that).

I looked at him and said, "what's wrong?" 

He said, "the last time anyone invaded Czechoslovakia, we had WWII".

I said, "so what?" 

"SO WHAT?" he said, picking up his teeth and dropping them again.

"There is always a war", I said. "And I'm missing the Monkees."

Over the years there have been years without war or conflicts or whatever, but it still seems strange to me to NOT have a war. I think we care less because we don't know who is fighting so much now. Without a draft, fewer people are directly involved. Fewer people know someone over seas. Fewer people have a personal stake.

And so my 99th reason for blogging for peace is that war should not be the new (or old) normal. Peace should not be an oddity that happens once in a blue moon.


Terica said...

very nice you brought some memories back for me too. peace

Bernie Corbett said...

I remember Cronkite & Rather reporting on Vietnam. I also remember the night Richard Nixon announced the "cease-fire" which meant I wasn't going to be going from high school graduation to Vietnam.

Unfortunatly, war and violence are normal and have been since the beginnings of our species. Something to do with that "free will" thing.

Anonymous said...

Vietnam was a central agony and fixation in my life for many years. It made me furious because we were so constantly lied to about the "reasons" we were there, and because though there was a draft, the rich and well-connected slithered out from under, like the slick and slimy disappearing GW Bush, and like the five or six time cowards like Dick Cheney et al, sanctimonious chicken hawks every one, and furious that though we counted our precious American dead we did not, in fact count Vietnamese dead. You would have had to look hard to find those numbers. Just like Iraq, and all the current soul sucking wars in which we are hopelessly embroiled now.
The human race really does not deserve this planet.