Re: The Summer Of Love/Vets

Mon, 18 Aug 1997 13:44:06 +0000

When I first read postings from Joe McDonald that contained his enthusiastic
support for Vietnam vets I was a bit surprised. After all, who more than Joe
was a visible and vocal
opponent to the insanity, illegality and immorality of that war?

Out of my respect for Joe, not only professionally, but personally and
politically (from the little I know), I kind of rolled his position around in
my head each time he contributed a post regarding vet issues.

Now, with your latest post Joe, I really need say, "I just don't get it!"

As an organizer/activist during the 60's and 70's, I knew and worked with many
brothers from VVAW and "having seen the light" they were, for the most part,
fine people with their heads and hearts in the right place. However, VVAW
were hardly representative of rank and file vets.

Celebrating the Summer of Love is wonderful, but why tie it to the vets? And
I am particularly troubled by the thought, <"Anyhow you look at it those 2,687
individuals died for our "right to party" and i am sure they all wish
that they could have been there, then and now!">

I'm sorry Joe, but unless I'm missing something, this all smacks of heavy
revisionist thinking.

The war in Vietnam, as we said then and is still true today, was an
abomination and a crime against humanity. It was not merely a mistake, it was
a calculated political move which was misconceived politically, militarily,
morally and culturally. And, like it or not with this recent trend toward
revisionism, the U.S. soldiers who fought in that war
were all, to one degree or another, compliant accomplices to this crime.

Certainly, nothing can be said in defense of those GI's who enlisted. For the
most part they were real, born-again believers in Amerika and they went off
willingly to kill the "slope-head commie-gooks".

Draftees are, of course, much more problematic -- especially those Third World
boys who came out of a culture of poverty. And, of course, with draftees
especially, it is important to keep in mind the distinction between the
government and it's functionaries. However! -- they all went willingly! Each
and everyone of them! They might not have been gung-ho, they might not have
wanted to go, they might have even been opposed to the war -- but they all
went, they fought, they killed (and yes, unfortunately, many of them died)!

What choice did they have? They had they same choice that other boys had:
jail or leaving the country. Both surely difficult choice, especially for
kids without advantages, but they were real choices which others made.

How come no one is building a monument, holding a memorial concert, or waxing
poetically for the War Resisters. Were they not the real heroes!

And how about the Peace Makers? What about we everyday Joes whose lives were
unalterably diverted by our commitment to stopping the war? Kids who were
jailed. Students who gave up earning degrees from "sheltered" academic
institutions because the horror of the real world outside beckened to them?
What about those of us who were beaten, brutalized, injured, maimed and yes, killed?

Who is out there to lionize them? What about those of us, typified by Phil
Ochs, whose anomie was fueled by our identities as anti-war activists and were
left stripped of our "selves" and our purpose when the war finally ended?

No Joe, Vietnam vets most certainly did not die fighting for "our right to
party." Indeed we gave up our youth and some of us even our lives trying to
save them from themselves.

I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag was brilliant in its analysis of the "fodder
for the military machine" system. However, you now seem to be refuting your
own wisdom.

Regarding our own history Joe, as you might have said on your lp "Together",
lets call a spade a spade!

Miles Z. Archer