Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Wall

The moving wall arrived in Buckeye this week, at Verrado (a master planned community here in Buckeye) High School. Paul went to see it in CA several years ago and wanted to see it again. It wasn't quite as big as the wall he saw in Orange Co and didn't include the casualties from 65-67. There were other war dead remembered, including the thousands we've lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. Paul's orders were changed 5 days before he was leaving for Vietnam in a political move by Nixon. He along with 5,000 other men had their orders changed from Vietnam to Germany. My brother went, my brother in law went. 
Paul doesn't want me posting his feelings about this on my blog and I'll respect his wishes... I'll post my own thoughts.
Walking by the wall, looking at all the names, and thinking of the 58,000 dead young men, the children they never had, the grand children they never had was a bit overwhelming and brought back a lot of memories along with my own tears. What a waste of life.

I came of age during the war. The back ground music of my life was also the background music of the war. Listening to those songs yesterday, looking at the dates on the wall, My senior prom, my graduation date. While I was growing up and experiencing high school, these boys were dying.  I can still see my mother saying goodbye to my brother during a rainstorm at El Toro, the week before Christmas in 1967. That memory was burned into my brain and as a mother, I wondered how she got through that day and the next 18 months. My father didn't say much during this time; but in the days before 24/7 news, dinners consisted of Walter Concrite (sp) Chet and David, etc. as though by watching as much of the war news as he could, my dad would keep my brother alive. In the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that we were republicans and I believed that crap about the domino effect... I felt guilty being a girl.. Safe from the draft.. My brother volunteered. So did Paul.

Today we say thank you to young men in Uniform; my husband talks about getting out of uniform as soon as possible when on leave, not wanting the abuse of the "Peaceful" war protesters. A friend was spit on at an airport, interrupting his first meeting with his 12 month old daughter. Hearing the words baby killer, butchers were not uncommon at airports. Seemed to me people would go to airports JUST to do that.
Peaceful? Not to me.


I believe those years and the years that followed were dark days for America, whether we believed in the war or not, we treated our Vietnam war veterans horribly. I was glad in the 80's when Jane Fonda finally had to give up her tour of American malls with her work out clothes, I think because the war veterans for the first time I was aware of, fought back and demonstrated at every mall. I was struck yesterday, with the understanding that while Americans were ignoring their plight, "putting the war behind us", Our veterans were taking care of each other when possible.

On a strange note (to me anyway), On a sign with myths and facts about Vietnam,I read,  1,072,000 young men served in Vietnam, over 13,000,00 in the 2000 census claimed to have served "in country".. Now I wonder, why so many who did serve don't talk about it, feeling shamed by their fellow countrymen so many years ago (John Kerry), and so many MORE who did not serve, talk about it all the time..
 
Sorry to be political, though it really isn't political to me. It's the indecency of the way we treated young men (boys some of them) who's only sin was joining the military (or being drafted).
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog today.

7 comments:

Rudee said...

Most were drafted. My brother and my cousins served in country. They NEVER talk about it. Whenever I go to DC, I spend more time at this monument, and Arlington cemetery, than at any others. It always takes my breath away. We don't seem to learn much and although nobody spits on returning vets these days, we could do a far cry more for their needs than we seem to be doing. And so it goes...

Julee Marie Photography said...

Great blog Betty. I of course was born after Vietnam and stuff but my dad was there and he too never would ever talk to me about it. It's crazy. And my cousin who has been to Iraq twice, he'll talk about it and it's nothing good nor pretty. War is a nasty thing, so many things going on in the world. I enjoyed reading your story...

Jim said...

I cant imagine treating people the way they were treated in the 60's and I guess the early 70's. Thank fully it was just before my time. Our neighboring town is getting a permanent replica of the wall.

Brenda said...

You put a lot into this post Betty. Very well said! I remember those times. All of my brothers and most of my male friends at the time were in the service. Only about 5 of my friends went to Vietnam and never came back the same person that left. But at least they did come back. I wrote letters faithfully to some of them. They told me that meant a lot to them. Vietnam was a different war in that the men were so mistreated when they returned. Most of them were just 18 years old when they left. So sad.

Jose said...

All I can say is that my outmost respect goes to those who served and I thank them as it is thanks to them that I am able to live here in this United States of America. Unfortunately when I got my citizenship I was already to old to serve.

Betty Flocken said...

Thanks everyone, I know, Brenda, about writing letters and family members not coming back the same. I wrote to my brother almost every other day - like sending letters would keep him alive.

Sandy said...

Very interesting post Betty and really really enjoyed reading your memories. They were treated so badly, I remember those times so vividly.