My family was against the war before it was popular to be against the war.
I remember family discussions in the early ‘60s. “The French were in Vietnam for decades and never won,” my dad would say. “Why does the U.S. think it can win?” But of course, the U.S. always thinks it can win. That damn U.S. exceptionalism and arrogance and self-righteousness.
By the late 60s and early 70s, blue lights gleamed from front porches. People protested. We watched it all on television: bombs and soldiers humping through the jungle; dead bodies – old and young; protesters – students and faculty, mothers and fathers and children and teens; politicians – liars and truth tellers.
That’s a big difference now. So little is on television. So much can be ignored. So much is forgotten. And Iraq and Afghanistan go on and on.
Today, war doesn’t affect everyone. With a volunteer army, it’s easy to forget what’s going on. If you’re not volunteering – and you don’t know anyone who volunteered – caring is an intellectual exercise. An activity one brings out periodically, dusts it off – the concern, the questions, the guilt. And then away it goes.
[From “My own story of war,” which I began writing in summer 2009 and completed in spring 2011. Available in the Free Download Library on my website.]