COLD BLOODED LIARS

In  a land far far away…we decided it was our right to obliterate cities and countryside and people…

This blog, 78, is about age and ageing. About me being 78 years old. And sometimes about what of consequence has occurred during these 78 years. The Vietnam War for example…. Ken Burns documentary, The Vietnam War, has reminded me both of who I was in that time and place and how, all these decades later, I’m still really the same person and, sadly enough, my country is still the same country.

 The Vietnam War is, in my humble opinion, the most thoughtful, intelligent, informative and moving documentary ever made. I have been reliving the 30 years of my life backgrounded by that country and that war—and being reminded that while my life was personally rich and rewarding, what was happening in, to, and by my country was ugly beyond what most of us imagined.

In 1955 when Eisenhower sent the first military advisors to Vietnam I was a sophomore in Northome High School, Northome, Minnesota. In 1975 when Ford oversaw the very last of the American military to lift off from the broken land of Vietnam, I was the politicized, college-educated, divorcing, liberated mother of two sons.

While it seemed like a lot had taken place in my life, that was nothing compared to the fact that, during that same time, the US had inflicted irreparable wounds on itself and on  a country called Vietnam, deeper and bloodier than anything I was capable of truly understanding.

Now it is 42 years since those last Americans climbed aboard that helicopter, and I am 42-years older and presumably some measure wiser than back in that dark day. I am nevertheless shocked to my core regarding the serious history I had forgotten, never knew, or, if I knew, couldn’t comprehend the evil therein.

Here’s what eighteen hours with a diverse cast of participants reflecting every degree and depth of participation, every stance and understanding of the impact of the Vietnam War on the US and Vietnam, gave ‘citizen’ me—clearer history and deeper despair. For ‘personal’ me however there was also much that was good to remember—which I did with both guilt and nostalgia.

During those twenty years there was the ongoing pleasure of watching my sons grow into fine young people; an eager appreciation of the intellectual stimulation and political excitement of college life; and then there was my adventuring forth as an independent woman… (I am woman, hear me roar/In numbers too big to ignore/And I know too much to go back an’ pretend/’Cause I’ve heard it all before/And I’ve been down there on the floor/No one’s ever gonna keep me down again). Rich and rewarding years and certainly the best musical decades in history—all mingled with a  mantra of body counts and the whir and  pinging of helicopters and bullets.

 The single biggest takeaway from the doc for me? Rage. Ferocious rage. Over many ideas and events, but first and foremost directed at the Vietnam War’s Liars-in-Chief: And here we thought Trump was the lyingest SOB ever to occupy the White House…. Ken Burns reminded me that no one has bested Lyndon Baines Johnson and Richard Milhous Nixon as liars. And, while we agree that Trump has no knowledge of history or country, no moral compass by which to tell truth from lie, no bigger goals than self aggrandizement, we definitely expected better of LBJ, maybe even of Nixon—and what we got was worse—because they knew and even privately acknowledged the truth.

I had partially forgotten the full extent of the blatant bold-faced lies told day after day by Johnson, McNamara, Nixon, Kissinger and their minions. Fairly early on the truth had started to emerge from the fear-mongering but those men never wavered with their face-saving fabrications no matter the numbers of dead, dying, wounded, men, women, children, US, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians. Never wavered, never once told the truth. (Although McNamara eventually made a stab at it.)  I try not to use the word ‘hate’ lightly, but yeah…I remember once again…I hated and hate them. I do not forgive them.

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone (Pete Seeger)

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