[sixties-l] Re: sixties-l-Vietnam War Memorials

From: Jeffrey Blankfort (jab@tucradio.org)
Date: Fri Jun 16 2000 - 07:43:27 CUT

  • Next message: Jeffrey Blankfort: "[sixties-l] Re: [Fwd: sixties-l-Vietnam War"

    As a US army vet from the period between the Korean and Vietnam wars and
    a Red Diaper baby who did GI-education during the Vietnam War and worked
    with the VVAW in LA and San Francisco, I am opposed to any memorial that
    is intended to honor those Americans who went to fight in Vietnam. There
    was nothing honorable about serving in that war, whatever the reasons or
    motivations of the men and women who went over there to fight it. I see
    the memorial in Washington DC as a monument mourning the wasted lives
    and their potential that it represented, but the notion that plaques
    should be erected in Berkeley or anywhere else, honoring their actions
    is no more warranted than plaques would be in Germany honoring the
    fallen members of the Wehrmacht.

    For those who are appalled at the comparison, remember that all the
    German soldiers weren't in the SS. I would also recommend getting a
    copy, if such are available, of the transcripts of the "Winter Soldier"
    hearings that took place in Michigan (?) in 1970 and the meeting hall
    above KPFK in No. Hollywood in 1971 during which former GIs, marines and
    navy men, described war crimes in which they had either participated or
    witnessed. When I was in Europe in 1970, I was given a two-page
    double-spaced list of Vietnamese villages whose inhabitants had been
    massacred by American soldiers. My Lai was only one name on that list.

    In 1969, I did a story for Ramparts on the town of Beallsville in Ohio's
    Appalachia. It was a town of 500 people and five of their sons had been
    killed already in Vietnam. The town mayor had written to the Defense
    Dept., requesting that no more boys from Beallsville be sent to Vietnam
    since a whole generation was being wiped out. The DD said it didn't keep
    records where soldiers came from and denied the request. None of the
    parents of the boys who died thought that they had been fighting for
    this country, they felt that their sons had been used, and one set of
    parents whose son had been a letter-winner in every sport, had been a
    boy scout who had helped younger kids, decided not to give their son a
    military funeral, because they told me, he wouldn't have wanted one. His
    letters home, like the others, expressed confusion and doubts about what
    they were doing in Vietnam. No one in the town talked about "honor." One
    more boy from Beallsville did die before the war was over. He had been
    the first person I interviewed, just before he reported for duty. He
    didn't want to go, but since he hadn't been a good fit in school, always
    getting into little troubles, sending him off to the Army was seen as a
    solution. I looked up all their names on the wall when I was in
    Washington about a dozen years ago. Let's not talk about honor here. It
    was a tragedy and whatever the intention, brass plaques that try to
    bring honor where there was none are surely a guarantee of further tragedies.

    Jeff Blankfort
    > Date: Wed, 14 Jun 2000 16:23:20 -0700
    > From: Joe McDonald <joe@countryjoe.com>
    > Subject: [sixties-l] Vietnam War Memorials
    > > In the last few years i have performed 2 times at the Vietnam Veterans
    > > Memorial in Washington DC, both Memorial Day and Veterans Day of the 10
    > > Anniversary year. i am listed on their stationary as a member of the
    > > Honorary Advisory Committee and have been since 1982. i have built the
    > > world's first ever interactive war memorial on the City of Berkeley
    > > California Home Page, its 4th Anniversary will be this Veterans Day 2000. i
    > > was instrumental in having a bronze placque installed permanently on the
    > > City of Berkeley Veterans' Memorial Building. i was instrumental in having
    > > the City of Beacon, New York, the home town of the folk singer Peter
    > > Seeger, honor its Vietnam War Casualties. i have been working now for 5
    > > years on getting the city of San Francsico California to honor it's 162
    > > Vietnam War Casualites with a bronze placque and also an internet Memorial
    > > Site. i plan to discuss the same with Mayor Jerry Brown of Oakland
    > > California to coincide with the Oakland Museum's 2003 exhibit NEXT STOP IS
    > > VIETNAM. i have facilitated the presence on a travelling Vietnam War
    > > Memorial in the City of Berkeley, and San Francisco, California. i was
    > > instrumental in having a travelling Vietnam War Memorial present at the
    > > 30th Anniversary Celebration in Golden Gate Park a few years back and a
    > > reading of all of the names of those Americans killed in the American War
    > > in Vietnam during the Summer of Love.
    > As a U S Navy volunteer enlistee and honorably discharged Vietnam War Era
    > Veteran i assume the responsibility of honoring the deaths of my comrades in
    > the military during that conflict. As the only visible person from my
    > generation who is not only a known anti war activist, a red diaper baby and a
    > Vietnam Era military veteran i have taken it upon myself to try and
    > facilitate the wounds inflicted upon my generation by the American War in
    > Vietnam. i am not ashamed of my anti war activities, my Communist background
    > nor my military service.
    > i am curious if the list has any comments or thoughts on this subject of
    > memorializing the American Vietnam War dead.
    > cheers, country joe mcdonald

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