Posts Tagged ‘war’

There are over 6.6 million living veterans in the United States from the Vietnam war era. That constitutes about 36% of all US vets, according to the 2016 American Community Survey, the largest contingent in the country.

And of course, it was the war I grew up with. So I just HAD to watch the series The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, all 10 segments, all 18 hours of it, though it took almost a month. It did not lend itself to binge-watching.

I knew quite a bit about the war from my time protesting it. Names, dates. 1954: the French fall at Dien Bien Phu. But I never felt how brutal the battle was. How the the United States, first little by little, then in a big way after the Tonkin Gulf resolution, expanded the war, were facts I knew.

Of course I had not been privy to the thoughts of the American Presidents and their administrations as they struggled with their decisions as events on the ground did not go as planned.

The real value of the documentary, though, was the story telling: the soldiers that were there taking this hill or that, only to abandon it a few days later. The sister of one soldier killed in Vietnam who became an antiwar activist.

And while the segments prior to my political awareness were interesting, seeing the parts I lived through had the greater impact. It managed to reflect all sides of the war: Vietcong soldier to disillusioned American vet.

The evolution of the antiwar movement was of particular interest to me. The killings of four students at Kent State in 1970, for instance, which I was well aware of, nevertheless became deeply personal.

One of the odd takeaways I got was that Hillary Clinton was Lyndon Johnson were the policy wonks who arguably the most qualified in 2016/1960, but that the more TV/media-savvy candidate got the nomination (John Kennedy) or won the election, even though Trump had claimed his sex life was his personal Vietnam.

I saw the criticism of the Burns/Novick work, that “Vietnam was not a ‘tragic misunderstanding’ but a campaign of ‘imperial aggression.'” Surely it was the latter, but I leave room for the possibility that it was the former as well.

When I watched The Vietnam War, the PBS series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, in October 2017, I was naturally drawn to the music. Here is the list of the 120+ songs that were included in the 18-hour program, which you can listen to at Spotify, or find on YouTube.

Some were very familiar, others not, but I was fascinated that there were at least five Beatles songs – Tomorrow Never Knows, Revolution 1, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, and Let It Be, which can be expensive to license. (I swear I also heard Piggies, but maybe I was just hallucinating.)

Coincidentally or not, Robert S. Hoffman posted Protest music: Music you can resist to, which include three of the songs on the Burns/Novick roster: Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire, For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield, and Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, the powerful outro for episode eight.

As Dustbury pointed out: “For about as long as there have been protests, there have been protests of protests. This 1966 wonder, on the real-life Are You Kidding Me? label, lays out its agenda before the very first verse… The Beach Bums were Doug Brown and the Omens, plus a different frontman than usual: Bob Seger, who probably wrote this under the ‘D. Dodger’ pseudonym.”

But The Ballad of the Yellow Berets was WAY too close of a ripoff of the tune that was #1 for five weeks on the Billboard pop charts in 1966, longer than any song that year.

The Ballad of the Green Berets [listen] was co-written and performed by Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler, From the Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson: “He was sent to Vietnam, where his fellow soldiers showed little interest in his songs…

“His Vietnam duty was cut short when he fell into a booby trap while on patrol….Lapsing in and out of consciousness, he treated the [leg] wound himself.”

Robin Moore, author of the book The Green Berets, got hold of Sadler’s 12-verse song about the army combat unit and edited it down. Initially released to the military, it was so popular, Moore took the track to RCA, which “agreed to finance a full recording session, complete with orchestra.”

Roy Moore is a lawless theocratic lunatic

Scientology and the cult of tRump

The Rules of the Gun Debate: The rules for discussing firearms in the United States obscure the obvious solutions

My Daughter Was Murdered in a Mass Shooting. Then I Was Ordered to Pay Her Killer’s Gun Dealer

Sandy Hook mom: ‘We value guns, flags & fake acts of patriotism over people, pain’

Inside the Federal Bureau Of Way Too Many Guns

Just What We Needed: More Inequality, Bigger Deficits

From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories

Forensic Science: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Statistical indicators of President Obama’s eight years in office

The Day Donald Trump Watched An Octogenarian Bleeding To Death And Did Nothing To Help

Adjunct professors in America face low pay and long hours without the security of full-time faculty. Some, on the brink of homelessness, take desperate measures

The Five Stirring Stanzas That Proved a Poem Can Help End a War

“The Closet” where a black camper slept is preserved in Schroon Lake, NY

How to Protest Without Offending White People

Comic: Back to the Future of Racism

Chuck Miller’s two-week boycott of ESPN

Finding Your Roots: Bernie Sanders and Larry David (may be available only in the US and until 31 Oct)

Free counseling for those affected by Hurricane Harvey from BetterHelp.com for up to three months

Want Change In Education? Look Beyond The Usual Suspects (Like Finland)

How to handle being “unfriended” on Facebook

Naturalist At Large environmental cartoons by Don Rittner and Raoul Vezina (1983)

“Mr Brunelle Explains It All” Cartoon Gallery

The Vast Influence Of Donald Duck

How one election changed Disney’s relationship with Anaheim

EU English

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Fall Preview

Y.A. Tittle dies at age 90. He was the first New York Giants quarterback of my youth

Sputnik’s 60th birthday

30 Of the Most Amazing Images from Electron Microscopes

Now I Know: The Town that Drives Itself and Why We Yawn and Why Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop and The Ben and Jerry’s Flavor that Left a Bad Taste Behind

Floss Firstenberg Alper Obituary: Floss was an amazing listener, a trusted confidante, the focus of many people’s erotic dreams, an oft-invited dinner guest and irreverent as hell

MUSIC

Waiting For The Waiter – MonaLisa Twins ft. John Sebastian

Coverville 1187: Cover Stories for Gerry & The Pacemakers and Everything But The Girl

Magic Moments – Perry Como

Merrily We Roll Along – Eddie Cantor

The new documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which I am watching, though not in real time, reminded me of the time I might have seen John Lennon but did not.

I have noted that I participated in a number of antiwar demonstrations between 1968 and 1974. (In 1967, it would not have occurred to me.) A few were in my hometown of Binghamton, NY, which got bigger and bigger as the war dragged on.

But most Vietnam prtook place while I was a student in New Paltz, NY, starting in 1971. A handful took place in town or around the area (Kingston, Poughkeepsie). But most were in New York City, with a fair number in Washington, DC.

It was at one of the New York City rallies – there were so many, I no longer remember when – that a bunch of us took a charter bus to New York City to stand up against what was the latest incursion. And after we rallied for a couple hours, we got the bus home.

Someone was listening to the rally on the radio – I’m guessing WBAI-FM, which makes sense, given its history. An organizer at the announced John Lennon and Yoko Ono, only ten minutes after we had reboarded the bus. We were still in Manhattan, but, of course, there was a schedule to keep.

I don’t what he said specifically that day – it was probably similar to the ideas expressed here – but we were all disappointed to miss it first-hand.

John Lennon’s struggle against war I thought was brave, not because he had been a Beatle, but because he was facing deportation from the United States because of what was likely was a bogus drug possession arrest and conviction in the UK a couple of years earlier.

Hmm – interesting how what would have been the the 77th birthday of John Lennon converges with the now-controversial celebration of Columbus Day, given the often xenophobic polices of the current regime.

Listen to:
Give Peace a Chance – Plastic Ono Band here or here.

It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of the holiest period on the Christian calendar. The news is on the TV. The previous evening, he gave a speech before Congress in which he exploited the misery of a Gold Star widow. Earlier THAT DAY, he threw his generals under the bus for the death of that Navy SEAL. “They lost Ryan.”

I wasn’t yelling, but was talking aloud, “You schmuck! You’re the Commander-in-Chief! The buck stops with YOU! You’re SUPPOSED to say, ‘WE lost Ryan,’ you @$$#01e!” This was loud enough that The Wife, who had been upstairs at the time, to comment that she heard that. She also opined that I’ve cursed more in the past three or four months than I have in the 20+ years since I’ve known her. And this is almost certainly true.

It has usually happened when he lies about his lies. Or when one of his surrogates does the same. I remember giving the finger to the TV when adviser Kellyanne Conway came up with the phrase “alternative facts.”

When Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz said that rather than “getting that new iPhone that they just love,” low-income Americans should take they money they would have spent on it and “invest it in their own health care” – as though that was anywhere near equivalent cost, I gave him a silent “Chuck you, Farley.”

I have mixed feelings about swearing. I don’t buy that “everybody does it, so it’s OK.” I know PLENTY of people who forego it, at least not publicly. Moreover, he is a well-known vulgarian, and I don’t want to stoop to his level. I do keep reading that swearing is actually a sign of more intelligence – not less, but that’s obviously NOT universally true.

In other religious topics:

* My presbyter (think bishop, but it’s not, really) Shannan Vance-Ocampo wrote about going through the immigration process with her husband. Beyond the personal agony of these stories, I worry that we’ll discourage people coming into the country who have long provided economic wealth to this country, such as students and scholars, because of our xenophobia.

* Ashraf Qandehari-Bahadorzadeh, Iran’s Mother Teresa, Passes away at 91. She’s the aunt of Darius Shahinfar, the Albany city treasurer, who I first met when we were schlepping our kids to the same preschool.

* Diane Cameron, who led a writing exercise I participated in nearly three years ago, has written her third book, Never Leave Your Dead – A True Story of War Trauma, Murder, and Madness. Initially, this was about a guy who was involved in a dismal US military (in)action barely hinted at in this narrative. She writes about how “war can inflict deep and lasting psychological wounds in warriors.”

She spoke at my church on a Friday night in February. “In March of 1953, Donald Watkins, a former Marine… who served in China during the Japanese invasion of 1937, murdered his wife and mother-in-law.” Some of her points she also shared in this December 2016 TEDx talk. Not incidentally, Donald Watkins, many years later, married Diane’s mother. Riveting stuff.

* I just got a flyer for Dr. Henry G. Covert’s book Ministry to the Incarcerated, “a vital resource for prison ministry. The contents include the emotional world of inmates, institutional challenges, models for prison ministry, biblical teaching outlines, penal reform, re-entry and aftercare… Ministry to the Incarcerated is available on Amazon, eBook, and Kindle.”

* The Day Ringo Starr Got Death Threats -for Being Jewish. September 1964: I had forgotten about this.

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