St. Paul, MN, USA
Those who were not alive during the Vietnam War can not imagine the hostility and polarization that occurred at home as well. I grew up in a family committed to doing whatever could be done to end the Vietnam war. The news, the body counts, the protests were a daily part of my day long before I was ten. In 1967 my mother travelled with Quakers to Haiphong in a small boat laden with medical supplies as an offering of peace and a statement that not all Americans supported this war. From the moment she announced the trip, our home was under seige. First the press, later the phone calls, the death threats and always letters of hate and anger in the mail. My brother, eleven at the time, was beaten. I kept to myself and still supported my parents and their friends with a child's simplicity. But I saw what a lot of guts were required to take a stand in America -against America and that to do so could bring down such hostility and violence upon you. The violence could be organized or unorganized. Individuals, members of the local VFW, organized to drive us off the farm where we had moved. Local police departments, local school boards and institutions all the way up to the FBI sought ways to block protests and thwart those who organized resistance. Our phone was tapped, our house watched. The anti-war movement was more than a groundswell. It was also pulled together by thousands making phone calls, passing petitions, licking envelopes directing marches and teaching others to do the same.
Today, in some ways I still live in the sixties, still waiting to see such electricity in the air again. I miss the loss of that sense of purpose that existed in young people. My mother is still steadfast and resolute and still speaks her mind. I know some who have now dismissed it as simply a phase they were going through, while others pursue every issue and insult with the same vigor, often, unfortunately, with the same old tired words and slogans. I have also come to understand that as time passes what was really clear can become muddy.History will not stop for a memory. North Vietnam was never the angelic and righteous county that those on the left might have described it to the crowds. But I know that we were right to get our troops out. And I know there was an honest desire by millions of people not only to end the war and bring home our troops, but to change the very nature of this nation. It was a very important time in this country and its effects will be felt for a long time.