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I Remember, 1968


A small skirmish in a bigger war.

  41 total reviews 
Comment by
Patti R.
 
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Exceptional
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If you were to hold a grudge, who would it be against? Rhetorical, I know. But like up here, the government never stays the same.

An excellent time capsule, hw. Such a political place, America. Lots of black and lots of white, not much middle ground.

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I love the way you write it.

Patti


 Comment Written 02-Aug-2014



reply by the author on 02-Aug-2014
    Thanks so much, Patti. Yes, it was an interesting time. There are dramatic drawbacks of living in a country with such a big head. You were eight at the time? I don't imagine you noticed too much about what was going on down here. A lot worse happened a lot of other folks.
    The grudges have largely been put aside. Most folks who supported the war, can now see the futility.
    Thank you for reading. And thank you for the galaxy.
    Peace, Lee

reply by Patti R. on 02-Aug-2014
    At eight years old I was playing marbles with the boys, they were way more fun than the snooty girls. We were singing This Land is Your Land and It's a Small, Small World...oh, god now that stupid song is going to be stuck in my head all day ... argh. I know things were a little more serious in eastern Canada at that time, likely demonstrations and protests. In the west folks kept their heads in the sand for the most part.

    Have a great day.
Comment by
Pilot2Pen
 
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Your story is compelling and well written. I remember 1968 as well. It was the year I graduated from the University of Michigan, got married, joined the Air Force and welcomed my son into the world. You probably did nothing wrong but did you ever stop to give thanks to the men and women who fought and died for your right to protest?

I am glad you and your dad ceased hostilities. I hope you had (or will have if it is not too late) the opportunity to sit and talk with him about his experiences growing up in the depression and then his involvement in World War II. His experiences would have clouded his judgment of your actions just as your experiences clouded your judgment of your father's opinions.

I never objected to anyone protesting the war as long as it was peaceful and directed at the President and his senior staff. What I objected to was the vitriol directed at the individual soldiers returning from Vietnam by protesters at the airports or by hypocrites and liars like our current Secretary of State who, in April of 1971, called me a criminal because I was flying missions in support of the 101st Airborne Division in places like the A Shau Valley.

Just the humble opinion of a Vietnam vet and retired USAF pilot.


 Comment Written 13-Jan-2014



reply by the author on 18-Jan-2014
    Thank you, Pilot. Whenever I look back at that era, I'm a bit embarrassed by my naivite. But I was sincere in my beliefs. In 1969 I declared myself a conscientious objector, and, after some tough debate, achieved that status. My local draftboard was no less demeaning in their treatment toward me than what returning veterans received. I'm not discounting their service, I'm merely pointing out that the coin was two-sided. My CO status did not exclude me from military service or duty on the front lines. It only precluded me from being armed. Most COs served as medics or chaplain's assistants. Not exactly hazard-free duty.

    As it turned out, my lottery number was 252, so I was spared service.

    Many friends and relatives served in that war. While I didn't condone it, I never disrespected those I served.

    I thank you for your service, and I hope you understand the truth behind the actions I took.

    Peace, Lee

reply by Pilot2Pen on 18-Jan-2014
    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I respect a persons CO status when well thought out and the decision made on principles. Yours obviously was. I am well aware that many COs were medics and were probably in far more danger than many who served on the front lines. The red cross on there helmet was more often a target than a shield.

    Too many young people tend to get caught up in the "group think" and react with emotions rather than principles. Mob mentality takes over and violence can easily erupt. That never leads to anything good, e.g. Kent State. You may also remember with the expiration of the draft in June of 1971 (although it was extended to June of 1973) saw the end of any serious Vietnam War protests. And by June of 1973, our involvement in Vietnam had gotten quite small with President Nixon's "Vietnamization" of the war was in full swing during my tour Jan - Dec 1971.

    One of my concerns with people who protest against the military is with their lack of knowledge of history. A great place for anyone to gain a sense of perspective on why the USA is great is an afternoon stroll through Arlington National Cemetery. A sea of white marble represents the price paid for our greatness and our freedom.

    Ken

reply by Pilot2Pen on 18-Jan-2014
    Lee, I forgot to add my congratulations on winning story of the month!

    Ken

reply by the author on 18-Jan-2014
    Thank you, Ken. I don't think we're very far apart, philosophically.

    Many of my peers believe the protests led to the withdrawal of the troops. Hushpuppies! The powers-that-were finally recognized the futility of fighting a war they weren't willing to pursue all the way. A lot of Americans (and Allies) died fighting a half-assed war. Those who served, deserve our undying thanks. Those who questioned on moral and logical grounds, are also meritorious. The villains in any war are those who profit.

    For what it's worth after all these years,
    I salute you.

    Peace, Lee

reply by Pilot2Pen on 18-Jan-2014
    Thanks and a salute back to you.

    Ken
Comment by
Generous George
 
 
Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
My hat is off to all who had the courage to protest. Including Jane Fonda. Where are the protestors today. They are needed more than ever!

Makes me angry just thinking about it. Stupid frigging politicians.


 Comment Written 06-Oct-2013



reply by the author on 07-Oct-2013
    Thank you, Generous George. I'm always pleased when folks when rummage through my portfolio and remind me of a piece I'd forgotten about. You're right about the dearth of protesters these days. Those folks who camped out on Wall Street (and a few other cities) warmed my heart. Glad you enjoyed. Peace, Lee
Comment by
Allezw2
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Master humpwhistle,

Coming late, curious about the articles in the ATB list.

An interesting point of view, with a deceptively innocent premise. Wrote well, rather dispassionately, with a reporter's precision and a poet's words.

The year 1968 was also the one that saw Nixon win the presidency, based in large part on the disgust of the electorate for the excesses of the mob that provided the impetus for the "police riot".

There are others who remember the infuriating display of the NV flag unfurled on the statue in that Chicago park.

Thinking people knew the war was a foolish extension of Johnson's pride. However, few would tolerate such glorification of an enemy. They remembered it as inflammatory, and voted their compunctions.

Few have ever been able to justify the absolute rejection of military service, or by so many who fled this country.

These divisions were profound enough, that for the sake of discipline, the far more cohesive all-volunteer military came to be.

It was, as you said, a small skirmish.

Neither, were you called to serve in the military. You seem regretful that you made the effort to seek CO status when it became moot, after the fact.

Too many in your generation made members of the military who did, absolutely miserable.

As a Navy Vet, it was rather dismaying to face the hostility of the fellow students at college as a member of the Veterans' Club. The college administration asked us not to support a booth on Clubs' Day, due to the hostility threatened by other student activists.

To be clean-shaven, neatly dressed, with short haircuts, became a red flag for these people.

Remember Aesop's Fables, where the song bird pleaded for mercy when caught in the farmer's net with the crows that were destroying his crop?

Fantasist


 Comment Written 20-Oct-2012



reply by the author on 22-Oct-2012
    Thank you, Allezw2. 1968 was indeed a strange and turbulant time. Just to be clear, I sought and received CO status BEFORE the lottery drawing, hence the 'moot' came after the fact.
    I was not one of those who denigrated those who served. And I , too, served--according to my convictions. Thank you. Peace, Lee

reply by Allezw2 on 22-Oct-2012
    Be glad that your freedoms are protected to that extent.

    A tip of the hat, too, to those men who labored as WWII stretcher bearers and as Army medics, and Navy Hospital Corpsman, largely COs.

    Administration of the Selective Service Act, post Korea, became the most discriminatory government regulation ever. Not for the act itself, but for the exceptions and and exemptions. Rarely were these individuals ever required to accept public service in lieu of military service.

    In WWII, they could volunteer to work with the military as the aforementioned medical assistants, in the hospitals and on the battlefields, or in rehabilitation centers with wounded veterans in the U.S.

    One group volunteered with the VA for experiments in determining the effects of starvation on the body. This was to determine the best methods to treat the POWs who suffered extreme privation in the Japanese POW camps. The subjects lost weight over the few weeks of the experiment, but never enough to endanger them, and suffered no loss of essential minerals and vitamins in the duration of the study.

    One of the men said that he was so hungry after a PT evaluation that he licked a photo of food in a magazine.

    For the most extreme example of such exemptions, check out the provisions made to accommodate Israeli Orthodoxy. They are exempted from military service and receive a living stipend from their government.

    As an example of the infuriating: The Chicago Seven attorney, Kuntsler, gave a speech at the Unitarian-Universalist Church near my house. Every anti-war protester, psuedo-protester, or hangers-on in the area, converged on the church's campus while volunteers illegally stopped traffic on on several of the nearby intersections to direct traffic to the venue. It took two of us to threaten one of these ragged, unkempts to move out of the way and properly observe the functioning traffic signals already in place. My house on a cul-de-sac half a mile from the church was completely blocked by autos that started at the end of the street and parked on the lawns and filled the streets with four lanes of cars. I had to park another half-a-mile away and walk back. That was when I discovered four cars on my front lawn and three in my driveway.

    For reasons unknown the LAPD had not known of this and therefore made no provision for traffic control. Once I called, they apparently sent out a patrol car, verified the situation and called in every tow truck in the county to begin clearing the residential streets of illegally parked cars.

    Naturally, they cleared the driveways and the cars not parked legally at the curbs. Even though they had disrupted the normal pattern of traffic and parking in our otherwise quiet neighborhood.

    A mob is a frightening thing. I has no mind of its own, only a single purpose, like a rapist with a victim in its power.

    As to your CO status, though you owe me no explanation, or justification, I hope you afforded yourself of the opportunity and provided a compensatory public service to the benefit of yourself, your country and mankind.

    Fantasist
Comment by
RandyWelch
 
 
Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
At the time of this I was sheltered by youth , but over the years I have made it a point to know and understand as much as possible about these past events that took place in my life time . Civil Rights , Vietnam , the music of the area that I sang and new the words to that were played on the A M transistor radio . I enjoyed your story very much about the event in your youth and I think you did a good job writing it . The times we aren't guilty of anything except living we are crucified for and the ones we are guilty off are shrugged off doesn't make sense other than making us who we are .
RDW


 Comment Written 12-Sep-2012



reply by the author on 13-Sep-2012
    Randy, thank you so much. I' always honored when a reader roots through my portfolio. It was a hell of a time to grow. Thanks again for your interest. Peace, Lee
Comment by
Anisa-
 
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Lee,

Yikes! Sounds like they caught themselves some seriously hardened criminals ... Not! Wow. Talk about police brutality at it's finest. Sorry to hear of your experience.

I enjoyed the write very much. It was not only a great read, but very informative as well.

Anisa


Great opening. I did not know that tear gas is classified as a chemical weapon. That's very interesting.

Hah. Got a bit of a chuckle with all the 'hippy' lingo throughout. Made me feel like I was back in the 70's or something ...

"my sit-down-place" - What an odd way of saying ass! Lol

They dragged me (,)by my heels(,) to the paddy wagon,- I could be wrong ...

I remember 1968, and being hauled to my feet (,) or (-)none too gently. - Again, could be wrong! Lol. Just what it seemed like to me.



 Comment Written 08-Jun-2012



reply by the author on 08-Jun-2012
    Thank you, Anisa. Can you believe it, we really spoke that way in 1968. It's a little conceit of mine, to try and say things differently. I have a friend who regularly says 'Brown word!' instead of 'Shit!' Commas often baffle me. Sometimes I resort to shaking them up in a paper bag, sprinkling them of my piece, and letting them fall where they may. I don't recommend the method, however. Thanks again. Groovy Peace, Lee
Comment by
artemis53
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EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT!!!! The year of the Democratic National Convention in Daly's town of Chicago. It was the heralding of "Tin soldiers and Nixons comin'" while Morrison was singing "They got the guns but we've got the numbers." I remember being so confused as a child as to what was going on and my parents were either silent or irate in their words. "The silence was the loudest I'd ever heard." It was about the evil and corruption of old refusing to break bread with the new and it was dark!


 Comment Written 06-Jun-2012



reply by the author on 07-Jun-2012
    Thank you, artemis. I'm so glad you can relate to this bit of memory. 1968 was a pivotal year, and despite the chaos and turmoil, I'll always be glad I was there. Thank you so much.
    Peace, Lee
Comment by
ScarletClearwater
 
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I like the repetition of I remember. it was a really good and tense read. I felt for you throughout this piece. It was an important subject too.


 Comment Written 06-Jun-2012



reply by the author on 07-Jun-2012
    Thank you, Scarlet. I'm glad you can relate. Peace, Lee
Comment by
Larrypic11
 
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Well written memory, Lee. Oh, how different many experiences were for all of us during those times. One day I'll have to explain the differences in our experience our few years of age difference and cultural background made. I believe I'm just slightly older. It was a period of change for all of us in many ways , internally and externally. You captured it well. Take care. Larry


 Comment Written 06-Jun-2012



reply by the author on 07-Jun-2012
    Thank you, Larry. One thing about 1968, there were a lot of different ways of looking at it. My brother is eight years older than me, and his views were diametrically opposed to mine.
    He was molded by the 50s, and I, the 60s. We were from different planets. I'd be interested to hear of 1968 from you point of view. Thanks again. Peace, Lee
Comment by
Judy Swanson
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Hey Lee,

What a gut-numbing bomb of memories you drop in this brief piece! I have chills. No grudges either, no anger left, just memories. Friends, boys really, who objected; some who didn't come home, and many who came home forever changed.

I was a young mom that year - nursing a baby when I watched the news about Bobby Kennedy. Turned me into a stone - holding a new son I feared would someday be forced into a war that, again, was inconceivable. The nursisng stopped - he too sensed the tension, anger, fear and his little eyes looked into my face.

I love that you inserted a good bit of humor and wit (not always the same!) into this piece of memoir - to remind the reader that even in the darkest of times a twist of humor will bring a smile, a tiny touch of healing.

Some, of many, excellent references...

"tonsorily challenged..." hair, hair, everywhere, hair. The more the better.

I can sense the depth of confusion, the innocent disbelief, in "guess they thought I was somebody else. Jack the Ripper? Fidel Castro?"

"We drove home, viciously arguing, but keeping it all in our heads." Reminded me of the friends and family members that required an "agree to disagree" state of relationship that included a lot of silence and sadness.

This one....
"I remember 1968, and the months of tension that squatted in our house, and soured the milk on the dinner table." This one actually reeks of the stink of the whole year.

Really well done. A great reminder, in personal images, of a time we need to remember.

Thanks for sharing.

Judy


 Comment Written 06-Jun-2012



reply by the author on 07-Jun-2012
    Thank you so much, Judy. It's been a little eye-opening for me to read the responses from people who also remember 1968. We were all marked by the turmoil. I'm delighted you could relate.
    Thanks again. Peace, Lee

reply by Judy Swanson on 09-Jun-2012
    Well, you picked a stinger of a year to toss out a little reminder about... so glad you got a lot of meaningful responses. Judy
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