March 24, 2002
10:26 AM   Subscribe

Where were you during Vietnam?
Emi's Online Anti-War Anthology
"The only way to uncover the real truth about the antiwar movement is for hundreds (or thousands) of people to come forward and contribute their recollections. That is why history needs your stories. Please submit them. I don't care how insignificant you think your story may be. Everybody's story is important. All relevant stories will be accepted. I will be happy to work with anyone who wants to prepare one."
posted by sheauga (8 comments total)
Related to this topic is The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam by Jerry Lembcke, a book about the uber urban legend of the War in Viet Nam: that returning soldiers were spat upon by protestors. I found these researching the topic.

Interestingly enough, the same stories were told of French soldiers returning home after their loss in Viet Nam and German soldiers returning home after World War I.
posted by y2karl at 11:54 AM on March 24, 2002

I, obviously was a small child during that time, but my father served a non-combatant tour of duty in Quin Nhon. He later seemed to have a somewhat jaundiced view of the war as do most Vietnam Vet's that I've known. Actually one of earliest memories I have is of watching a TV documentary about what I later learned was the My Lai Massacre, with my Dad in the room. I remeber him seeming intensly interested and perturbed by it.
Many vets actually did join the anti-war movement, as documented in Gerald Nicosia's Home to War an excellent history of the Vietnam Veteran's Movement.
I remember one particularly moving story. There was an anti-war march in some major city where the protesters were jeered by onlookers. When the VVAW(Vietnam Veterans Against the War) marched thru the jeering went to dead silence. The presence of these men publicly opposing the conflict did a lot to legitamize the anti-war movement in the eyes of the general public and turn the tide of public opinion.For this, along with their bravery on the battlefield,we owe these men a debt.
The war in Vietnam opened up a Pandora's box of issues in our society-race,class,foriegn policy,militarism and the list goes on. I just remember that for a lot of the past 25 years, the ghost of the war always seemed to hovering in the background, at least to me.
posted by jonmc at 12:27 PM on March 24, 2002

I lived through those times and so many of my memories of then are so bleak. We lost so much hope and promise and innocence in that war. And to see the way history has been rewritten since means the ghost of that war, as reconstructed myth, will haunt us yet longer.
posted by y2karl at 12:45 PM on March 24, 2002

Good post! Going to take some time to go through + the linkons...whether you were there or not, regardless of your politics (then or now), there is still a lot to learn about those days. Will 'the people' ever stand up to and defy the government to that degree again? When there is a consensus of outrage and polarization, my opinion is YES.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:50 PM on March 24, 2002

"I, obviously, was a small child during that time"

Yes, obviously. I can tell by the way you type your letter "i"s.

posted by five fresh fish at 1:55 PM on March 24, 2002

Good link, the stories brought back a few memories...

I engaged in a few anti-war protests at my high school, even wore a black armband once. I think I took it off after the jocks started beating on guys. I may have been a chickenshit revolutionary, but I really was against the war.

After high school, I got to play draft lotto - I remember my number (185 - nice big 3 digit number).

Fortunately, it was winding down by then - I know of only a couple of people from my school that were drafted, and they never went overseas. But I know I wasn't the only one that wondered: what would I do if I were drafted? Serve? Go to Canada? Go to college? Hide in the basement?

I realize now how fucked up it was: economics was all that really determined whether or not you would have to serve. God, what an awful thing that war was - such a waste.
posted by groundhog at 7:54 PM on March 24, 2002

fff- I've mentioned my age before and didn't wanna belabor the point.
posted by jonmc at 8:48 PM on March 24, 2002

More y2karl brilliance (the first post on this thread). I was an active member of the antiwar movement, and today I will be the first to say that we were a bunch of self-righteous, obnoxious, cowardly, self-serving, ignorant punk brats (none of which means that we were not perfectly correct in our opposition to that war). But no one, not one person I ever encountered in the antiwar movement would have dreamed of spitting on, or cursing, or dissing a returning serviceman. The soldiers in Vietman were our own age: That means they were our brothers, neighbors, cousins, schoolmates, etc. We knew these guys! They were our friends. They were us! We didn't blame them for the war. We didn't call them "baby killers." And in my broad experience with the movement, especially in its most radical expression, I cannot imagine anyone who would look upon such an action with anything but disapproval and disgust. In fact, anyone who had stood up at a meeting and suggested we all go down to the airport and spit on returning servicemen would have been immediately ostracized, because that person would obviously have been some kind of police agent or plant. I'm glad this canard has been debunked once and for all.
posted by Faze at 12:56 PM on March 25, 2002

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