Interesting remembrances... I went into the Marines in February, 1968 in a
weak and stupid attempt to avoid the draft. One of my fond memories is of my
late, feisty, and very Irish mother telling me about going down to the
recruiting offices at the Pioneer Post Office in downtown Portland, very
late at night, and dumping her garbage on the doorstep.
Fortunately for me I did not have to endure being shot at, ever, in my 10+
years in the world's most illustrious fighting farce. I did manage 2 tours
overseas with 1st MAW, though. I remember watching a GV full of coffins
being unloaded at El Toro as we were waiting to board a bird to go to
WestPac in March, 1970.
My "awakening" came in April 1975 as I was watching, live on the tele, the
fall of Saigon. I was Fire Control Chief for VMA(AW)-242 at El Toro at the
time. I had come home from work and was watching this on the tube. Walter
Cronkite announced that this was "the end of the Viet Nam War." The net then
ran a couple of hours of news footage shot from in country. Some time during
that time I broke down and cried, and cried, and cried. I realized that I
had taken a massive screw job from my government. I realized that a
significant portion of my generation had been killed off, or worse.
I was the biggest pain in the rear to the Marines from that point on until I
got out in June of 1978. I do not trust my government. I fear my government
and I truly do hate the bastards that gave our generation such a hideous
growing up present. I will not honor the flag, I will not sing the National
Anthem, and I usually will not stand when it is sung at various and sundry
events that I might attend.
I do not consider myself to be an immoral person. It is so easy for those
from the bowels of righteous indignation to pass judgement on those of us
who got caught up in the mess. They call us immoral, weak of character, or
whatever pejorative term they choose to come up with. Those of us who had to
experience that carnage, from whatever venue, are as much victims of the war
as anyone else. And I really resent the pompous judgemental words of those
who would refer to me as "immoral".
My reasons for enlisting were pure and simple... Had I run to Canada, my
father, a narrow minded hawk, would have hunted me down and probably beat me
to within an inch of my life. Or, I could have gone to jail. Neither
alternative was acceptable. At the time I was quite adept at parroting my
fathers bellicose verbiage and believed this to be "truth". Besides,
hypermasculine behaviour is symptomatic of a mental disorder that ultimately
caught up with me. Anyway, that is my $0.02 worth...
Hugs and Love,
Henriette Cecile Beigh
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ralph S. Carlson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2000 3:37 PM
Subject: Re: [sixties-l] War and male bonding
> In a very thoughtful response,
> On Sat, 24 Jun 2000, Sandra Hollin Flowers wrote:
> > So while I can't take part in this discussion on the same footing that
> > men do, there's one thing I want to contribute to it, which is that
> > the closest form of female bonding I can think of is that which exists
> > among the women who have numbly received the folded flag from the
> > coffin of their dead GI. The man who devised the standard consolation,
> > and the men who offer it along with the flag, probably have no idea of
> > the chill that a woman feels when someone says to her, "Please accept
> > this flag in appreciation of your sacrifice for your country."
> > S. Flowers
> And I recalled all those 1968-69-70 network evening news broadcasts that
> ended either with a rolling roster of the week's casualties, or clips of
> funeral details folding the flag from the coffin and presenting it to the
> widow or other family member.
> Especially ingrained in my psyche are the times the widow or mother or
> father turned away, refusing to touch the flag, and leaving the presenting
> officer or NCO to tuck it under his arm and move the squad to its next
> phase of activity.
> Refusal was not the most common response, but as 1968 progressed and then
> the lottery system came into use in 1969, a number of families openly
> expressed bitterness over their loss in that explicit refusal of the
> folded flag -- with network TV cameras present.
> Peace --
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