Growing up in the 1960's, we "baby-boomers" were convinced that we had, somehow or other, created a new world unlike any that had come before. We were, in our minds, revolutionaries. Our music was unsurpassed. Unlike "popular" music of the (ancient) past, ours would forever remain on the forefront of the culture. We smirked, in our smug, superior way, at the Muzak of Lawrence Welk blissfully unaware that John Lennon and Paul McCartney would become the Lawrence Welk of the 1990's and beyond.
As the recent controversy surrounding Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal proves, my fellow baby boomers who seek to advance in the political ranks continue to bring us all (willingly or not) back to the days of the Vietnam war. Today, 35 years after the fall of Saigon, 64 year old politicians running for the U.S. Senate view service in Vietnam as a resume enhancement; so much so, that
In the words of Henry Allen:
O,the stained souls, the small-hours doubts, the troubled manhood of so many American men who didn't go to Vietnam when they could have -- the strange guilt they seem to feel when they confront Vietnam veterans.
I may have, for a brief moment, felt that same said "strange guilt" this past weekend while I listened to a Vietnam vet as he attempted to mesmerize someone young enough to be his son with tales of his year long stay in Vietnam. As much as I would have liked to join in the conversation with similar stories, I was not, however, tempted to do as Richard Blumenthal had done.I would not lie about having been in that war myself when the truth was that I have never been in the military.
Like many of my generation, I had absolutely no desire to fight in Vietnam. The reasons we may have given in those days for not wanting to go were far more noble than the actual truth. We would go on and on about the immorality and illegality of the war. We would speak of the corrupt South Vietnamese regime. But, we were, contrary to Richard Cohen, "spoiled shirkers". We were, by and large, more inclined to remain in the world of "sex, drugs and rock and roll" that was the United States.
We were undisciplined and anti-authority. The uncensored "Fish Cheer" was our anthem.
Anti-war protests were the order of the day. I submit that these protests were actually more anti-draft than anti-war. A wikipedia article claims
"The draft lottery had social and economic consequences because it generated resistance to military service and the resisters, draft evaders or "draft dodgers", were generally young, well educated, healthy men."
My recollection of those days is different. As I recall, those of us, like myself, who managed to get high numbers in the lottery didn't bother protesting any longer.
Over the years, I've come to realize that much of what we hear from those of us who protested the Vietnam war is a colorized, glossy version of reality. I believe that it is this fantasy version of the Vietnam era (error?) which fuels much of the Liberalism of today. I, for one, am willing to admit that I was not as noble then as I should have been. I wish more of my fellow baby-boomers would admit the truth as well.