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Found 6 results

  1. This reminds me of the tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, who without Vietnam would be unquestionably one of our greatest presidents, in the same class with Lincoln and FDR. It just makes me weep when I think of it. Of course I hated him at the time, but that was all about Vietnam, which overshadowed everything. You younger people probably can't even imagine how Vietnam distorted and disfigured everything about our civic life as it crept into the crannies of our souls. You couldn't even fuck without Vietnam obtruding into the crevices of your pleasures. I look back on LBJ's presidency now and can only see what midgets his successors have been compared to him.
  2. I've always had a morbid fascination with Lt. William Calley's role in the My Lai Massacre in 1968 (that was one hell of a year for this country). However, I've never really known about it, or what happened - I was only six years old, and didn't understand at all; I just remember "The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley" playing on the radio - what sounded so serious to me then now comes across as propaganda, and not particularly well-done propaganda - it's almost kind of corny, even though it's dealing with such a dire subject. Does anyone have any opinions about this anti-protest protest song? Or the situation in general? I'm not looking for general opinions about the war, but rather opinions about this specific situation. Calley publicly apologized for the incident in 2009: There is a 70-minute-long documentary on the My Lai massacre available on YouTube, but I haven't seen it yet - does anyone know if it's unbiased?
  3. A series of posts here in dr.com ( TV piece on Con Thien and a discussion about My Lai with researched comments by Brian R (that I appreciated) about the Vietnam conflict and a recent series of articles in the NYTimes has reawakened me to the Vietnam period: The most recent article in the NYTimes: The Grunts War by Kyle Longley a Professor of History and Political Science at Arizona State University Longley has studied and published extensively on the Vietnam period. I turned draft eligible during the conflict, received a student deferment and by the time the US involvement in the war ended my college years ended. I didn't serve. I was around and affected by the tremendous level of political acrimony attached to that period. In many ways the political environment of that time mirrored the politicization of this period. On top of the politicization around the Vietnam War there were also tremendously violent Urban Race Riots in the 1960's and later. The period was rife with political strife and politicization as it is today. I find similarities between then and now. While currently we are involved in military engagements overseas they are clearly less involving than earlier in the past 15+ years. Our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are far less involved than during the 2000's. Far fewer American soldiers involved and far fewer American soldiers dying in conflict. Going back to the Grunts War, Longley references that almost 300,000 American's entered military service in 1967. He references that they were all drafted. But records from the selective service state that about 220-230,000 were drafted. (I haven't found data to work through that discrepancy.) Additionally Longley refers to the fact at that time that soldiers entered military service with a 1 year or 13 month commitment (Marines). Once their term was up they left service. Clearly some re upped but most didn't. One year of service. One astounding difference between then and now or in the 2000's when the US was fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan was that during Vietnam a drafted soldier or enlistee has a definitive discreet period of service. During Iraq and Afghanistan and to this day, soldiers and members of the reserves are called up for multiple periods of duty. This could and does go on for years. Prior to Vietnam there were drafts associated with Korea, WWII and WWI and enormous numbers of young men fought overseas. Huge numbers. We live in different times.
  4. Unlike "Stay Alert, Stay Alive," which was not distributed to the general public, "The Ordeal of Con Thien" was shown on television as a 30-minute CBS News special with Mike Wallace. For that reason, it goes in the TV Forum instead of the History Forum. In the past day, I've begun three threads dealing with non-fiction, short films: "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (police), "Stay Alert, Stay Alive" (army), and this one, which may not exist forever, as there's a clear disclaimer written at the opening - however, this video is duplicated on numerous websites - I even found one in color. The other two videos have different purposes (the police film is a Ned Beatty novelty, the army film is more to raise soldiers' spirits than anything else), and if you're only going to watch one of the three, and you wish to actually *learn* something factual and important about the Vietnam War, make it this one. Example: I had *no* idea that B-52s could haul and drop as many bombs as they can - the bombs coming out of the bomb bays looked like it was raining confetti at a ticker-tape parade. Another interesting thing about Con Thien (also called "The Battle of Con Thien") is that, although the report makes it sound like a slaughter, the statistics say that 1,149 Americans were killed, and 7,563 Vietnamese were killed - almost a 1:7 ratio. In terms of statistics, that's a pretty good trade-off, but our country simply didn't have the belly for this war, as so many people thought it wasn't supported by a noble cause (such as fending off Adolph Hitler from taking over the entire world). Thus, those 1,149 dead American soldiers might as well have been a million, and the number of Vietnamese killed wasn't even relevant to the American public - our boys were being killed for no good reason, and we needed to get them the hell out of there. The Vietnamese communists were being invaded by a foreign country, and were determined to defend their turf until the last man fell. A poem composed and recited by a soldier at Con Thien (properly spelled Cồn Tiên): "When youth was a soldier, and I fought across the sea, we were young and cold hearts, of bloody savagery. Born of indignation, children of our time, we were orphans of creation, and dying in our prime." Two extremely important leaders were interviewed, Lieutenant-General Robert E. Cushman, Jr. and General William C. Westmoreland: One fascinating thing that General Westmoreland said is essentially what I said just above: North Vietnam was fighting a psychological war at Con Thien, designed to weaken the will of the American public, and that's the only way they could possibly win this war. Well ... that statement is supported by the statistics I quoted up above, and ... the North Vietnamese's tactics worked. For those who don't know, Westmoreland Circle, on the border of Washington, DC and Maryland, is named after General Westmoreland. CBS War Correspondent John Laurence's brief report was perhaps the most interesting and revealing moment of the entire show, which demonstrates just how important it is to have an independent press; it is a polar opposite description of the situation from Westmoreland's, and the juxtaposition of the two is the highlight of the entire news report - the words are both riveting and chilling, and reveal two very legitimate viewpoints that are completely at odds with each other. Although this is merely a news report, it was presented in a way that made it thirty of the saddest minutes I have ever watched on television, and it is absolutely *no* coincidence that 1967 was such a pivotal year in Hollywood. And to think that this came the year *before* the election of Richard Nixon, the assassinations of RFK and MLK, the Tet Offensive, and Operation Neutralize (which was *directly* related to Con Thien) - 1968 was arguably the most historic post-WWII year in our nation's history, but in many ways, it was set up by 1967. Do yourselves a favor, and watch this entire film - you'll be somewhat unaffected during the first fifteen minutes, but those fifteen minutes set up the final ten minutes, which will rip your heart out.
  5. I recently came across a police training film from (most likely) 1965 called "Stay Alert, Stay Alive," which instructed officers on proper arrest techniques. While searching for this on YouTube, I came across another instructional film with the same title ("Stay Alert, Stay Alive"), this one intended for soldiers about to deploy in Vietnam, and made in 1967 - it is completely unrelated to the above police video. This 28'32" training video gives an interesting glimpse into the mentality of the American "brass" when it comes to conditioning soldiers for the rigors and realities of Vietnam, and will present you with words with which you're familiar, such as brigade (the chart on the right side of the page shows a "brigade" to be the only unit with four-figures (i.e., 1,000-9,999 ) of soldiers), division (the smallest unit consisting of greater than 10,000 soldiers), Brigadier General (the general who controls the brigade, in this case, William Pearson), Viet Cong, booby traps, and will show them to you in a way where they'll "stick" in your brain. I understand people have strong feelings about the Vietnamese war, but it is an important part of American history, which is why I've chosen to put this in the History Forum rather than the Film Forum (its worth is primarily historical; not cinematic). As you're watching, try and imagine the stress these children (perhaps "young men" is a better term) are being placed under, listening to the Brigadier General demonstrate what can happen to them with booby traps - they're being told to literally watch every step they take; when I was their age, I was mentally preparing for my next keg party, which is why I unashamedly call these unwilling participants - who would rather be *anywhere* but here - "heroes," because that's what they are in my eyes (I am in the minority, and would be considered unpatriotic by some, because I consider the young enemy soldiers to be placed in an equally heroic position - they didn't want to be there any more than our young men did). Towards the end of the video, as a soldier is walking around peering into drains bored into the ground, I was thinking just how easily the enemy could be waiting to ambush him in any of a dozen other places. Maybe this permitted us to have an Eden Center, but at what cost? Yes, maybe one day we'll be friends with Iraq, North Korea, and other countries we've clashed with - is this what it takes to gain friendship? One generation tears countries apart, and the next makes amends? Perhaps this "strategy" (and, yes, I'm cynical enough to think it's a long-term "strategy") will work, but it isn't worth it, at least not to my eyes, which have become both jaded and wise, as I've watched tragedy-after-tragedy unfold through the decades. My antipathy towards bureaucratic "hawks," sitting in their cozy confines inside the safe boundaries of the United States, most certainly does not extend to the unfortunate soldiers who were forced into combat. And it most certainly *does not* include people such as John McCain, who is a legitimate hero to me - how dare anyone criticize that man for being captured and tortured? Don't like his politics? Criticize away (just not here ), but to condemn him for being captured is simply immoral.
  6. Cookbook author Andrea Nguyen, who also runs the wonderful blog, Viet World Kitchen, revisits the Fall of Saigon 40 Years Later. Looks like she might be doing a series of blog posts about her family's flight from Vietnam during April 1975.
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