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

From: Marty Jezer (mjez@sover.net)
Date: Sat Jun 17 2000 - 15:11:23 CUT

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

    On this question of building a Vietnam War Memorial, the one in Washington is
    an eloquent statement of the tragedy. But to honor the survivors? Here is
    my take:

    Those of us in The Resistance used to leaflet at draft boards early in the
    morning when men were called up for induction. The class and racial
    distinction between those who were called and went and those who were not
    called or resisted was marked -- as the data indicates.
    The draftees were mostly poor and people of color. Were we in the The
    Resistance morally superior than those who went? Maybe some of us, maybe
    all of us -- it would take a lifetime to figure that one out. Where we were
    different was in the families we grew up in, the friends we had, the
    schools we went to, the books we read.

    I never understood the horror that the GIs went through until I saw
    Platoon. It made the tear gas and policemen's billy clubs that we faced
    rather inconsequential. I saw the movie in Canada and after it was over
    everyone left but me and another guy, obviously a vet, who remained seated,
    stunned, in different parts of the theater. We got up to leave at the same
    time and acknowledged each other as we left the theater. I wish I had
    talked to the guy, suggested going out and having a beer, etc. But what
    could I say against what he, I assume, experienced? Yet both of us were
    marked by the Vietnam War. I really respect anti-war activists like Country
    Joe who have reached out to the vets. And the activists who are working
    with them are doing a great deed of healing -- and movement building! In
    Vermont, Rep. Bernie Sanders, an independent, a socialist, and one of the
    leaders of the anti-Vietnam War movement in Vermont has built a
    constituency among Vets because he fights for their rights. We should too.

    I think it possible to have a memorial for the living veterans that
    recognizes their sacrifice rather than romanticizes the war. We also ought
    to have a memorial for the millions of Vietnamese killed though I would be
    happy to see that memorial created with no-strings-attached money.

    Finally, it should be noted that the Vietnamese have reconciled with the
    GIs -- even with airmen like John McCain -- who fought against them. I
    don't see why we cannot.

    Marty Jezer

     

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