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Thirty years ago today

This beautiful icon was made by cannons_fan for the TV show Lost.  It seemed appropriate for today's post.

I know there are people on my flist who weren't even born in 1975, or who were too young to know what was happening in the world then.  For those of us of a certain age, however (particularly if you're American or French), does "Saigon" ring a bell?  Thirty years ago today the city fell, and the last American troops were evacuated by helicopter from the grounds of the American Embassy.  Remember the photos?

Vietnam was my generation's war, and to me, America's conflicts since then have seemed trivial in comparison.  Perhaps it's just the fact that I came of age during that conflict; that I was at university when the protests were going on; that I knew boys who were drafted and went to fight and ... sometimes ... didn't come home again.  Perhaps it's the fact that I remember the lies the politicians told us about Cambodia, and the horror that was born there and that we later learned to call the killing fields.

I'll be watching movies this weekend -- Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket, The Killing Fields -- as many of them as I can bear -- and I'll be remembering.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 29th, 2005 06:43 pm (UTC)
I remember the body count on the news each evening and living with the dread that one day my brother, who was in the Air Force in Da Nang, would end up on it. He came home in one piece, thank goodness. But here we are again, with the daily death tolls. And once again I have no clue why.
Apr. 29th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC)
I too was in that time period already married 5 years, hubby had served outside of Da Nang. Not a happy time period for the country and as usual we never learn from our mistakes.

There are vivid pictures in my head that never leave... I've seen all the movies you mentioned, hubby almost knows Apocalyse Now by heart, I found the Deer Hunter very difficult to watch the first time.

In my senior year in high school, '68, there were announcements over the loudspeaker regarding which of our former classmates had died in Nam. If you didn't live through that time period there's no real way to explain it to anybody. Just think of all the horrors in '68 alone. Do they even teach about this in schools?
May. 2nd, 2005 09:44 am (UTC)
Do they even teach about this in schools?

I don't have children (or nieces and nephews), so I have no idea. If they do, I'll bet it's glossed over as briefly as possible. It's hard to bend the facts to make us come out the winners (or to even make us look good), and we wouldn't want kids to start thinking the country and it's leaders could possibly be fallible, now, would we?

I completely agree with you; if you didn't live through it, there's no way I can explain it. And if you did live through it, no explanations are necessary.
May. 2nd, 2005 11:05 am (UTC)
Not to be sarcastic or unfeeling... we did get some mighty fine music.
Apr. 30th, 2005 10:26 am (UTC)
I've seen "Full Metal Jacket" and "The Killing Fields", both of which made a strong impression on me. But that's not the same as being there or having people you know serving there. You speak of coming of age then. It must have been both a literal and figurative coming of age - a loss of innocence.

Wars should not be forgotten. I don't mean the hatred or the conflict, but the loss and the sacrifice that seem to fade so quickly from people's collective memory.
May. 2nd, 2005 09:57 am (UTC)
It must have been both a literal and figurative coming of age - a loss of innocence.

Yes, and that's probably what was most shocking to us. Here we'd been raised (and taught in school) to think of the U.S. and Americans as being the ones in the white hats (in Westerns, the good guys always had white hats, while the villains' hats were invariably black); then Vietnam came along and suddenly it was as though we'd all fallen down the rabbit hole with Alice, and nothing was the way it seemed. If there are more than the usual number of cynics in my age group, you can probably trace it back to that loss of innocence that you speak of.
May. 2nd, 2005 02:34 pm (UTC)
If there are more than the usual number of cynics in my age group, you can probably trace it back to that loss of innocence that you speak of.
That's interesting...I hadn't thought of it that way. I guess it leaves one not knowing who or what one can trust. And that must be particularly devastating if one thought one could trust certain institutions.

I think some people in my country had a similar experience with the demise of Apartheid. Many of those people are still in the denial stage of bereavement.
May. 2nd, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, that can't have been easy. But I'd think in Apartheid's case, the disillusionment would have been on the part of the older people, rather than the younger generation as Vietnam was for us.

You're a native of South Africa? How long/how many generations has your family lived there?
May. 2nd, 2005 03:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, it is more the older people here.

My family's lived in Africa for over a hundred years. Four or five generations. It's been mostly in South Africa. Also a bit in what is now Zimbabwe (before the First World War) and in Namibia during the 1980's. I'm living near Cape Town now, but grew up in Johannesburg.

Your user page says you're in LA. Whenever I think of LA, I think of Jonathan Kellerman. I've been reading his books for twenty years!
Apr. 30th, 2005 01:32 pm (UTC)
the difference of a few years
It's me, Celia, aswanargent's younger sister. Younger by 3 years, but what a difference that three years makes. I was of course aware of the war, and opposed to it, and in the paradoxical position of thinking they should draft women as well as men (a feminist even then) but also thinking if I did get drafted I'd go to Canada. BUT. By the time my high school classmates were old enough to be drafted they'd started the lottery. Consequently the only people I know who fought are ones who volunteered to go. I can tell from reading these comments that I missed a lot of the truly personal pain by being just those few years younger.
May. 2nd, 2005 10:18 am (UTC)
Re: the difference of a few years
Well, it's a little like me being at Chapman instead of at Berkeley, or Harvard, or any of the large universities where the antiwar protests were so fierce. A small, private, liberal arts college -- we had a few lunchtime student antiwar rallies, but that was about it. Classes went on as scheduled, the administration buildings remained in the hands of the school administrators, no flags were burned, etc. Pretty much business as usual. And by the time Phnom Penh and Saigon were lost, I was already out of school and working.

Question for you: Do you remember what it was like the year you were in Heidelberg? Were they even paying attention to the war in Europe (always excepting France)?
May. 2nd, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
Re: the difference of a few years
Celia again. If you think Chapman was conservative, try Pepperdine! We were a small, conservative, Christian college. I tell people I did the 1950s three times: living through the actual 1950s, then living in Orange County during the 1960s, then being at Pepperdine during the 1970s.

As for Heidelberg, the main thing I remember is that the graffiti you saw everywhere in Europe was political in content. But since I didn't speak German I don't really know what the general attitude was. Also, Heidelberg was a big American military base at the time, and I don't know how that affected things.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )