Re: The Summer Of Love/Vets

sixties-l@jefferson.village.virginia.edu
Fri, 22 Aug 1997 03:27:55 EDT

Miles Archer's point is clearly right that if we are going to remember and
memorialize, we might better commemorate those who gave their lives or careers
or selves against the Vietnam War than for it.
Yes, it is unfair when we who were privileged not to have to choose whether
to fight in Vietnam criticize those who did; it's unfair to blame those who,
from ignorance or the coercion of circumstance, chose to go; it's too easy to
say "oh they could have gone to jail instead" of those who saw themselves as
having no real "choice" but to go to Vietnam. I'm afraid, though, this is
true of practical moral discourse generally. If there's choice or moral
character, such issues define it. Doubtless, the soldier who stood up to a
brutal command in Vietnam deserves the same recognition that should be given
the demonstrator who stood up to a trooptrain, the organizer who stood up to a
red-baiting committee, and so on -- yes.
But the soldier who just went--whatever the extenuations--and the civilian
who never did decide to risk signing one of those petitions--I mean, why would
we be memorializing either one, exactly? For living with danger when one has
to--but don't we all, eventually?
NOt that there's anything wrong with a good commemorative party for anyone
and/or everyone!
Paula Friedman