Vets and the Summer of Love

Joe McDonald (borneo@mail.dnai.com)
Mon, 25 Aug 1997 05:14:50 +0100

Vietnam Veterans have a saying "face the wall". When you do so you see
your reflection in the polished stone and at the same time the names of
the dead. It is a metaphysical moment. A trancendental moment. And
each person experiences it with themselves. It is a healing experience.
Why am i so hard about this pay respect to Vietnam Veterans thing? I
guess because i want family.
I see the military experience from the Vietnam War as a thing that keeps
my generation from being whole. And that everything else follows from
our untogeatherness. We were used and abused by our parents generation
and they never will acknowledge that.
Every one loved Country Joe the antiwar activist but people have
problems with him as a Vietnam Era Veteran. And many more problems with
his aggressive pro-vet position. This all touches us in a very
emotional way and from responses to my post i can see evidence of that.
I believe the problem is that civilians do not understand the legal
nature of the military experience. It is a deal that once made through
conscription or by volunteering is almost totally unbreakable. It has
its own set of rules and the US Constitution has very little to do with
the Uniform Code Of Military Justice.
The US Military is also totally approved of by the US citizens and paid
for by the taxpayers. There is no mass movement on the part of any
civilians to ablolish the military and no Progressive groups champion
military personnel and military causes. The labor unions and the
American Communist Party never get invlolved in military problems.
We are taught in the military how important it is to have a support
system behind each soldier in the battle zone and that includes civilian
support of all kinds.
Our leaders voted for it and we elected them!
Oddly enough when you think about it military personnel come very close
to a "socialist" life style: same clothes, same goals, same housing,
etc. Most American liberals have never been forced to live for years in
such a communal situation but claim enormous differences between
military life and the ideal collective life they think should be lead.
I personnaly found no difference between the distain my military leaders
felt for me and the destain the radical leaders felt for me. The
American CP never helped my family in its troubles over communism in the
50's and the VA never helped the vets with their troubles in the 60's
and 70's.
Even if you consider Vietnam Veterans to be the enemy you still should
"respect" your enemy enought to "face the wall". But i predict that as
you stand there looking at your refection and those names that their
voices will come to you over the sounds of your tears telling you the
great wisdom they have learned: IT DONT MEAN NOTHIN'
And once you are at that spot it is easy to see the things that mean
something. And there but for the grace of god are you or i. As a matter
of fact you can probably find a name like your name on the wall if you
look hard.
There are very few evil soldiers and many many heroes. Soldiers are
workers. You dont blame the workers for a bad car. And blaming
soldiers for war is like blaming fire fighters for fire. In our country
the civilian Commander in Chief who is also the elected President is at
the top of the chain of command. And refusal to obey an order by the
CIC passed down the chain of command during war is punishable by death
or worse! Leaving the peace movement can not be compared to leaving the
military.
I am sorry if i made some people mad. The anger is justifiable. There
is much left undone. I am motivated by a desire to save the country and
the generation through an examination of the military system and a
recognition that military personnel are our friends and neighbors and
relatives.
And as far as Lt Calley (sp) goes...shit happens mostly by plan in the
military and he took the hit for his bosses.
Like i mentioned in my first post the wall and rock and roll will meet
at the Summer Of Love event in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on
October 12th. By the way this is the 30th anniversary of Vietnam
Veterans Against The War and the 15th Anniversary of the Vietnam War
Memorial in Washington DC. And if this time you come to San Francisco
with a flower in you hair leave it at the wall.
Lets party for peace and love!
Country Joe McDonald ATC3 USN 59-62
"Watch out for friendly fire!"
-- 
"Life is no finishing school for young ladies."  Jaroslav Hasek, The
Good Soldier Svejk
country joe Hm Paje <http://www.countryjoe.com> 
Berkeley Vietnam Veterans Memorial <http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us>