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December 17, 2010

Libby Hellman Guest Blogs

Libby Hellman Guest Blogs

Forty Years Later

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It’s coming up on the end of the first decade of the new century (technically, 2010 is the first year of the new decade, but I still think of years that end in zero as the end, not the beginning). At any rate, I tend to get reflective around these times, and with the recent release of the remastered Beatles library on iTunes and the release of a new book, I’ve been looking back a little further than usual.

I’ve always had unresolved feelings about the late Sixties. I was in college then, and everything seemed possible. I was young and idealistic (probably a bit arrogant too), but I thought there wasn’t much we couldn’t do. We could change the world. Stop the war. Fix the culture. Bring true equality to society. Let the earth sustain us rather than exploiting it.

The only problem was that not everyone agreed. Some people thought society was just fine the way it was. Why fix something that wasn’t broken? If you were called to fight for your country, you went. You didn’t question the culture, you accepted it. You trusted your leaders. They knew things you didn’t. They cared about the country just as much, if not more, than you did.

It was a tumultuous, volatile time, but it was also a time of passion, commitment, and enormous energy. We didn’t change the world, of course. Not in a fundamental way. Culturally, things shifted. As a society we became more tolerant, women’s rights became an issue, we “loosened up.” But change, in the sense of what we expect and demand from our leaders? Not so much. At least for me.

And yet my twenty-two year old daughter always says she’s jealous that I “ came of age” during the late Sixties. There must be something alluring to young people today – maybe  it’s that sense of possibility, or maybe it was the sense of belonging (remember when you saw someone who looked the same way you did? Whether you were in bell bottoms and peasant blouses, or Villager skirts and circle pins, the similarities seemed to say “I know who you are, and I trust you implicitly.”) Or maybe it was the sense of freedom that may or may not have been real. Still, I’m a little baffled by her envy. I usually feel sad when I think back to those times.

But enough about me. What do you remember about the late Sixties? Your number one, penultimate memory? Is it a photo of you with long hair and a tie dye shirt? Marching at a demonstration? The funeral of Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy?  The War-is-not-healthy poster? The men on the moon? The Manson murders? Woodstock? Or the feeling that society, with all those infernal hippies and Weathermen were taking us in the wrong direction?

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I’ll tell you mine.

As you probably suspect by now, I was somewhat of an activist back then. I was home for the summer living in Washington, DC when the doorbell rang one hot day. I opened it and saw a young man in the dress uniform of an Army sergeant, with all sorts of stripes on his shoulders. He held his cap in his hands.

I was in cutoffs, sandals, and a ratty t-shirt. I asked him (probably not very politely) what he wanted.

He said, “Don’t you remember me?”

“I’m afraid not,” I said.

“I’m Bobby Smith and we went to grade school together.”

My jaw dropped. This was a boy who came from the other side of the tracks. I think he only had 2 or 3 shirts to wear all year. I think his Mother raised him alone, in the days before we coined the phrase “single mother.”

Now he gave me a broad smile. 

“I’ve always remembered you, Libby,” he said. “And I wanted to show you that I amonted to something after all. I enlisted in the army, went to Vietnam, and I’m going back again.”

My jaw dropped even more. In fact, I was speechless. Here he was, so proud of his accomplishments that he made a special trip to tell me about them. How could I reply that I thought he was fighting a war that should never have been fought? That we invaded a small, poor country for no good reason? That he was being manipulated by a military- industrial complex that simply wanted to enrich itself at his expense?

I couldn’t. I bit my tongue and told him I was proud of him. And I thanked him for coming. He left soon afterwards, but I have never forgotten that day. It somehow encapsulates the entire time period for me.

Your turn, now. What do you remember most? cover

Have a happy, warm, safe holiday!

Check out Libby's standalone thriller, SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE.





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I remember when my boyfriend Scott turned 18 in our senior year of high school. He was drafted right out of school - mid term - into the army.

Same thing for my friend Philip. He went for his draft physical and while standing in line, a Navy chief walked by and pointed at several of the boys (sorry guys, if you were in high school, and I dated you, you were a boy), "You. You. You. You. Come with me. You're in the navy." Philip never got to come home and say good-bye. I remember his mother looking at me, stunned, holding his jacket in her hand, "He must be chilly."

Philip and Scott never graduated high school.

Late 60's. Men in suits on the porch taking pictures through the window. Being arrested for being barefoot in the winter. Smothers Brothers being banned from the local tv station (Charleston wasn't exactly a 'hippie' paradise). Going to San Francisco. Answering phones for the American Friends Service Committee. Building up a dossier with the FBI for things like working with La Leche League which Hoover had declared a subversive organization.

Hitchhiking across the city with a guy whose picture would be next to the dictionary word 'scruffy' and another playing the bagpipes. And getting rides.

Most of all, the music. No matter what you did, there was the music. We have nothing like it today.

I was born in 1962 so the late sixties are a little different for me. I remember the ROTC building at Washington University being burned down. It was next store to the nursery school I attended. I remember the look on my father's face when I recognized my birthday on the draft notice on the radio.

I do remember needing to send Uncle Marc presents in early November so he could get them in December. Uncle Marc served in Viet Nam longer than my history book says was possible for an American. He was an "adviser." A modern history book has more accurate dates.

But Libby, your generation did change the world. You did eventually stop the war. Most of my teachers in high school went to college and became teachers to avoid the draft. I know women who married the summer of their senior year to keep their boyfriends home. I know someone who has never had a high school reunion. He was class of '68 at an all boys school. By 1978 less than half of his class was alive.

Prior to 1967, we generally trusted our government. Then there was Watergate. Now we trust reporters.

My nephew toured Thailand, Viet Nam and Cambodia this summer. I still find it hard to think of these places as tourist destinations.

Thankfully, I think 2008 was the last year a presidential candidate will be judged on his service (or lack of) in SE Asia. I am still trying to figure out how someone who defended Alabama as a member of the Texas National Guard was more of a war hero than a combat veteran who volunteered for Viet Nam. That was a strange election and a different blog.

Peace Brothers and Sisters. It will be Pete Seeger in the car to school today.

Libby: We’re probably roughly the same age and the late 60s always brings to mind the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting time.” My memory of that era is very different than the romanticized version popular today. It was a world gone mad. The “Summer of Love” and the music were great but beyond that it really sucked. Between the end of my junior year of high school and my sophomore year of college the following things happened:

There were National Guard troops in most major cites because of race riots
Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated
Televised riots outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago
Protest, some violent, on nearly every college campus
SDS and the Weatherman blowing up buildings
National Guard killing students at Kent State
My Lai massacre
Rampant drug abuse
Soviet Tanks roll to crush “Prague Spring”
China and the Soviet Union doing a stare down across their shared border
The “Six Day” war between Israel and the Arab world
The Rhodesian parliament passes pro-Apartheid laws
North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo
The government of France nearly collapsed during “French May”
China had the “Cultural Revolution”
OPEC was formed
Apollo 11

Interesting times indeed.

The most memorial event, a young lady I knew well, walked off the roof of her apartment building convinced by the LSD in her system that she could fly.

All the music, from the Beatles to the Stones to the SF groups and the moon landing and Woodstock. Yep, this says it all. Time they were a changing.

As a pre-teen all that mattered to me was what effected me and my family. One uncle had been in Vietnam for two tours. Another uncle was in the Navy serving in a nuclear submarine in the Pacific. At home I had my first experience with death as my paternal grandmother died in 1968, but my one brush with the anti-war movement came in the waning weeks of October 1967.

I was in 5th grade when my parents and paternal grandfather decided to take me and my two younger brothers to Washington DC on an educational vacation. While there we hit all the usual tourist spots: the White House, the Capitol Building, the Smithsonian, the Treasury, Arlington, etc. My father had been saving our trip to the Lincoln Memorial for our last morning. We piled into the car, but all we could do was drive by and stare out the window at all the "Hippies" filling the steps leading up to the Memorial and the surrounding mall:


I was so disappointed that we didn't get to see the interior of the Lincoln Memorial and greatly ticked off at those hippies who had come to ruin the end of our vacation. It would take another 40 years before I got back to DC and was able to actually climb the steps for myself,see the interior statue of Lincoln and take in the view of the mall from the top of the steps.

For those of us of a certain age interested in a trip down memory lane, here are some old contact sheets from a massive protest March in Cincinnati in 1969. Many, if not most, of the pictures were of people watching the marchers.


On my Facbook Fan page are a bunch of photos from the 1960 include some with Eugene McCarthy.


All your memories are literally giving me chills. Thank you for sharing. I remember being at the Lincoln Memorial, peach. I was probably one of those "hippies" you despised.

One more piece of my life -- I was planning to drop out of college for a semester to work on the "Youth for Bobby Kennedy" campaign. My college boyfriend had been tapped to be the head of it. I was back in DC in June (the same summer Bobby Smith visited me) and couldnt sleep one night. I turned on the radio and found out Kennedy had been shot. I was furious. Between his death, Martin Luther King's, and John Kennedy's, we had been robbed. It was my political coming of age.

On another subject, for those who remember the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, I was able to borrow actual color footage from a very generous Chicago filmmaker. I re-edited it into a montage in the middle of this piece:


In WWII, all my uncles, both my mom's brothers and her brothers-in-law, who were old enough served in the Armed Forces. By the 60's only two of my cousins served; the rest avoided the draft. Because they were brothers only one of them ended up in Vietnam, the one cousin I was closest to in my large Catholic family (41 first cousins). He's not the same man who left home then, and he still refuses to speak about what happened over there.

After his discharge from the Air Force he left the US and moved to London, where he met and married the wildest child Hamilton, Ohio was ever to see when they came home to visit in 1968. The day I met her she was wearing a long, sleeveless leather vest with no buttons, and nothing underneath it. That was pretty risque for my hometown back then, where girls still wore hats and stockings to church on Sundays.

The defining moments of the 60's for me had to do with death: JFK's first, and because we went to a Catholic school, the next day we were out of school and watching TV when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald on camera. That was truly shocking, to see someone killed, live. And then my own dad died one month after my high school graduation in 1969. Another truly shocking moment that left me reeling for months.

Libby, this is a fascinating blog, and has elicited some intriguing comments. We have such a diverse group here, with such varied backgrounds.

As a public service, though, may I point out something that was pointed out to me a few years ago? The word "penultimate" does not mean "most ultimate". It means "second to last". And is really, really difficult to work into regular conversation! :-)

Rod, were those pictures taken on Fifth Street downtown? One building in the second contact sheet looks like the one at Government Square. It's all so different there now.

I was in high school in the later Sixties, and remember sitting in the library with friends before school started when MLK was killed, and then Bobby Kennedy, and we couldn't think of anything to say.

I remember when our local (very small!) newspaper published the headline "70% of high school students do drugs!" and we all looked around at each other and laughed. Not us, folks--I didn't even see marijuana until I ended up in Cambridge. Heck, we didn't even drink.

And I remember, in college, marching for peace to the Boston Common--I think it was the spring of 1969. There were said to be 100,000 people there, the largest group I've even been part of, then or after.

Karen: It was a march from the University of Cincinnati campus to Fountain Square downtown.

I remember sitting in the college dorm lounge freshman year when the last draft was held--on TV. All the guys in the room making dark jokes about their numbers. Not long thereafter, I was in the bar of a Holiday Inn with a lot of the same people, watching Nixon resign. Earth-shattering moments.

I find myself remembering those moments when I think about what's happening in Afghanistan. (And moving forward--without Richard Holbrooke? How hopeless does this situation seem?) Have you all seen RESTREPO? "I want you guys to mourn, and then I want you to get over it and get on with your job." Just crushing. But important for everyone to see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvUdruvbdmI&feature=related

Karen: good catch. Even writers get the ...um... wrong word sometimes.

Libby, great blog. Good to see you here.

Besides the big historical moments of deaths, the personal memories that come first to mind are. . .

Driving home at night, to midtown Kansas City, after work to find my way blocked by police barricades because of "race riots."

Being scared off drugs in 1967 when a friend gave me pot to try and then he seemed to go crazy and violent on it. Years later he told me that what he had actually "done" that night was LSD. I am still pissed at him, lol.

Sensing how deeply unjust it was that my "boy" friends had to worry about going to Vietnam and I and my girlfriends did not.

Getting accepted for the Peace Corps and not going because the news was there was fighting in Thailand where they would send me.

The theme I sense here is what I "didn't" do, rather than what I did do. Didn't face the draft, didn't flee or fight, didn't go into the Peace Corps, didn't do drugs. I had it easy. What I also had was lots and lots of fun.

The music, the music, the music.

Nancy M: I've tried consciously NOT to compare Afghanistan to Vietnam. I've tried to tell myself we learned something. That we'd never put ourselves into an unwinnable situation like that again. The clip from RESTREPO would seem to indicate otherwise.

Nancy P: I confess now (although I'd never have admitted it then) to feeling relief that I wouldn't be drafted.

I was a pre-schooler in the late 60's, but I remember helping my mother make boxes of cookies to send to Vietnam. Three of her five brothers were serving at the same time - two in the Army, and one in the Air Force.

My job was to use the fork and make the criss-cross smashes on the peanut butter cookie dough before it was baked. I got to sit on the kitchen counter.

And when we were wrapping the boxes in brown paper grocery sacks, I got to stick the tape and use my finger to hold down the twine for knotting.

It was many years before I ever understood why my Granny "took to the bed" for days after one of my uncles would return overseas after being home on leave.

Marcie, 3 out of 5 brothers, oh my gosh. Your poor grandmother. I'm afraid to ask, but did they all make it home okay?

The music.
The marches.
The murders.
Thanks, Libby.

Rod, I remember all of the things you listed. Do you or anyone else remember the student strike? I don't remember exactly how it was worded; perhaps it was called the "finals boycott"? It was towards the end of spring semester, probably in 1970. College students were encouraged to boycott final exams in order to have more time to participate in anti-war activities.

Bobby Kennedy's death in 1968 happened when one of my college roommates was visiting for a few days. It sucked the joy out of our visit.

Throughout the late sixties I felt like the air was constantly charged with some sort of electricity that could not be turned off. There was a sensation of the entire society being embroiled in one very emotional family feud. (We knew that in OUR extended family we could not discuss certain topics at family gatherings.)

Libby, what an evocative post. One that the post itself and comments have moved me to tears in part.

I was five years sitting on my own in front of our spindly legged black and white tv set watching the live footage of the moonwalk. My mum was in the kitchen doing stuff. The whole going into space and seeing what's out there left an indelible impression on my young mind: I read and write science fiction, and I also paint my versions thereof. I later joined the airforce because of those impression. But, back to the 60s. As you might have guessed, I spent my formative years in my native Australia. My favourite uncle was in the Navy at the time in Vietnamese waters and my parents worried constantly about him. Gosh, I'm awash in so many memories at the moment that I'm going to have to go away and think about it for a bit. But I can say that the difference between the 60s 'interesting times' and the current 'interesting times' is that back then most people seemed to have a vision of what we could be and where we could go, and what we could achieve, if only we tried. I find that sadly lacking nowadays. The day to day to struggle for most people is the same as it was back then: job, education, medical insurance, a roof over one's head, feeding one's family, etc. But the heroes have become shallow and stupid celebrity or goon-like sports stars. In March I get to meet Buzz Aldrin, several other astronauts and scientists from that era and the 70s at a gathering in Tuscon. Needless to say, I am determined to untie the usual knots that hamper my speech when faced with meeting a personal 'hero' and say thank you for giving my dreams and vision a kick start.

I will check out all of the fab links later when I've got more time...

For me, it comes down to the moon landing and the music of the times. Watching Armstrong step onto the lunar surface remains the coolest thing I have ever seen. Running a close second would be seeing Jimi Hendrix live just a short time before his death.

I grew up in the Leadbelt and my school was a K-12 campus. Few in the area escaped service in Nam. I lost several classmates and knew several who were wounded.

I was teaching in a small town in IL and used to write to a young man I'd gone to school and later worked with at the A&W. One day I stopped by the sandwich shop (run by the local mailman and his wife) and he told me I'd better hurry home I had an overseas letter waiting. Not too many months after that my mom called to tell me he'd been wounded and was going to be in rehab for months. I visited him a couple of times after he came home to finish his rehab. I still have his letters.

In 1969 I moved to the St. Louis area and started teaching in a school that had been "block-busted" the year before. Many of the older teachers did not adjust well to the new students. We had riots, protests, lockdowns and outsiders who came on campus to disrupt our day. We made the local news often and sadly still do.

My nephew's b-i-l was declared MIA in '68 and his remains were just found about 4 years ago in Laos. I visited the Viet Nam Wall in DC and looked up my classmates and his b-i-l.

The music of the era - all genres - still resonates today.

Marianne, that reminds me of my own experience of seeing the moonwalk, in July of 1969: My father had just passed away, so my girlfriend and I decided to go tent camping at a nearby state park. On the day of the moonwalk we rowed a boat about a mile across the lake to the lodge, where we huddled around a tiny black and white TV with about a dozen other people to see the historic moment.

Doc, wasn't the best-known outcome of the student boycott the shooting at Kent State? I think it was; May 4, 1970.

Can you imagine college students doing this today, despite out being at war now for most of the last ten years? The draft made such a difference.

My "number" was 24. If women had been drafted, I would have been in the first group sent.

Rod, I thought so. Fountain Square is on Fifth St.

One thing I forgot to mention was the day John Kennedy was shot. I was a freshman in college and was in the library when I heard the news. Most professors cancelled classes for the rest of the day. My mom was surprised to see me home early and couldn't believe it when I told her what had happened. Like millions of Americans we stayed glued to the TV. I was teaching in IL getting ready to go home for Easter break when MLK was killed and was back home on a break when RFK was shot.

As the years went by I remember how odd it felt when I first had students who weren't born or were too little to remember the JFK assassination. To this day I can vividly picture the setting, the person who told me and my mom's reaction when I told her the news.

Of course, I remember exactly where I was when John F Kennedy was assassinated. I lived in Ottawa Canada and I was sitting with my fiance on a bridge near Dow's Lake. It was truly shocking as Canadians loved him.
I later moved to the United States.
I was still in Canada when the Beatles came on the Ed Sullivan Show. I lived on the same block as singer Paul Anka and of course the Beatles changed music forever.
As mundane as it may seem my daughter took her first steps on the day of the Moon Landing. Two steps for mommy and daddy.

The sixties were uneasy years for everyone. Young people and old alike spoke out as never before and made their voices heard.
Libby, thank you for such a wonderful blog today.

Nancy - all three uncles did make it home from Vietnam. And, like many that served there then, they almost NEVER talk about their experiences of the war.

I was the only grandchild/niece during that time. I have things they brought or sent home to me. I save them because the took the time in a crummy place to get them for me. It seems respectful somehow.

Two of those three uncles have sons that currently serve in the volunteer service. One cousin is a Marine foot soldier. Another is a Seahawk Helicopter Pilot/squadron leader/trainer in the Navy. He graduated from Annapolis.

oh my.
This has been quite moving.
This time will remain, I believe, one of the most powerful, most moving periods of time ever.
A dichotomy of divisiveness and cohesiveness.
What I remember most vividly is the arrival of the freedom riders into my hometown of Cambridge, MD in the summer of 1962 and the National Guard being called in while we lived under martial law. The summer of '62 shaped me into the person I am today. Sadly, the story, one of much disgrace, is told by Peter B. Levy in his CIVIL WAR ON RACE STREET.

I was born in 1959 in small town Ontario and all our news was on CBC and very filtered. In 1967 we moved to even smaller town BC. I think my mom used to get Time magazine every now and then and that was our American news. My mom loved politics and JFK and sometimes will still mention what she was doing when he died. I was just turning 4 at the time so I don't remember it at all.

My older brother was very into Jimi Hendrix, Lee Michaels, Led Zeppelin. I do remember him getting into a huge argument with them when he was 14 and they wouldn't let him hitchhike cross country (and border) to go to Woodstock.

A lot of our info was also on a time delay so unless it was really big news, we found out everything late. By 1972 we lived in a bigger town with (gasp) cable tv and the world came into our house.

Marie, this is precious: "As mundane as it may seem my daughter took her first steps on the day of the Moon Landing. Two steps for mommy and daddy."

I was on a camping trip on July 19/20, 1969. Mr. Muller told us to look up at the moon. It would never be the same as it was that night. It was July 19th. The next night, we watched from home as Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

As I sat holding my two week old daughter and crying on 9/11/01, my mother reminded me of her sitting and crying with her almost one year old son(me) when Kennedy was shot.

I remember my classmates taking off of school to attend MLK memorial services at church on his birthday before it was a holiday.

Alan P, precious moments indeed! World events often tie in with our familial memories. Godspeed!

I remember my first year of college in L.A. There was a student demonstration in the quad. Members of the SDS barricaded the exits. I heard someone say she called the TV stations, and someone else said he called the police. And the police came. They formed a line across the quad. Swinging their arms from side to side, they worked their way to the other end. Bashing heads, shoulders, arms, backs - as we ran. The screams are still in my head.

We have links with people who 'were there' back in the 60s, particularly in England. Our friend, author Brian Lumley tells brilliant tales of his days in the Royal Marines in Belfast and Scotland. A larikin and a wag, i have borrowed a facade of his experiences in Belfast in 1972 for a character in my novel. Another friend is an aging rock star who lives in London and has been mistaken for Rod Stewart - albeit a giant version of Rod - when traveling in Las Vegas a few years back. Keith, better known to his friends as 'Keef', jammed on stage with Clapton and Hendrix at a small London club back in the 60s when Hendrix was just starting out. Keef has tales to tell and is so self effacing when telling them. His wife, Jane was active as a model and retail assistant on Carnaby Street back then as well. We spent a brilliant time with them this year in London. Keef gave my husband a rather rare LP that comprised a number of Jimmi Hendrix jam sessions and recordings from various things - one of 25 ever made. Hubby has treated it like gold since then and we have been dying to play it. :-D Must get a turntable. :D

BTW, Keef still plays with his band the Downliners Sect. He still chortles over the fact that they interviewed Rod Stewart for the lead singer in the 60s and then turned him down: he didn't have the voice they wanted. Keef tells some brilliant tales of the Rolling Stones, Moody Blues, Kinks, etc. Would dearly love him to write them down as I feel something will be irrevocably lost when Keef passes on. Sigh. Love the music of the 60s. We play the 60s station on satellite radio a LOT. And watch The BOat That ROcked/Pirate Radio way too often... not that I'm complaining, mind you. Watch an Aussie movie called THE DISH if you want a hark back to the 60s...makes me homesick for that time.

It was not only the draft that caused the protests, and the music, and the LOVE. I remember the nightly evening news body counts on TV during dinner. I remember the horrible photographs of children running from our gunfire and napalm. I remember the view from a reporter's camera as he fell dying and as he lay dead. I remember the crying out for justice, and peace, and equality. The music and protests began to take shape a full decade before the draft protests. The draft gave us focus for our anger and its added injustice. The draft propelled the movement, but it did not create it.

You're right, Reine. Except that the draft made things so much more personal and immediate. Everyone knew someone who was in Vietnam, every single neighborhood had a story.

We didn't have a working TV then, and even though I missed a lot of cultural references from that time, I'm still happier not having seen those horrific images. Look Magazine had enough of that sort of thing.

Oh, yes, Karen, everybody knew someone who was in Vietnam. In retrospect, I'm surprised that I didn't know more people who died in action. One of my good friends was killed, just a month before he was supposed to come home. Someone who was a year ahead of me in school was killed, too. Other people in my town were killed but these were the ones that I knew.
A friend who had volunteered for Vietnam told me that the whole first year after he returned home he had nightmares about being sent back there. He said that if it ever happened, he'd run to Canada.

I was born in 1964, so my world was my family. Though young, I remember vividly the night before and the day my father left for Vietnam. The feeling of fear and honor in the air.
I remember my mother's tears every time she got a letter from my dad. And all the pictures I posed for so that she could show him how I was growing. He was missed in our small home.
The day my daddy returned home was joyous. But haunted. And I remember the anger he felt at his reception by others. My daddy was NOT "A BABY KILLER" but a true hero.

The Kennedy assassinations. I was 3 1/2 when JFK was shot and that's my earliest memory-- my neighbor was babysitting me and told me to go take a nap. The next day, I was sitting in my dad's lap while he watched TV. When Oswald was shot he jumped up yelling for my mom and I fell on the floor.

In 1968, I had a huge crush on RFK. I was 8. The morning after he'd been shot, I remember sitting at the breakfast table eating cereal and my dad told my "Robert" Kennedy had been shot. I was quiet for a minute and then whispered, "Thank goodness it wasn't Bobby." My mom came and hugged me and explained they were one and the same.

And The Beatles. I had older siblings so I listened to all the great music.

Kellee, mmm no, I am sure your daddy was not a baby killer. Nor were my Scott and my Philip. It does not change what happened in Vietnam, all the same. I am sorry that your father was treated poorly. God bless.

I'm a vet...amazing to be referred to that as I was never in combat, and Desert Storm happened after I left the service but was still on recall. My cousins have served in Iraq and Afghanistan...

It saddens me that the Vietnam vets never got the welcome home they well and truly deserved by any country they called home. Times changed, people's viewpoints changed about Nam and the people they willingly sent over to fight for peace and freedom. What the people back home forgot was that when you're in the service of which ever country you call home, you are NEVER GIVEN A CHOICE where you serve or answer the call to combat. Most of the boys and girls sent over to Nam went against their will but had to obey because it was the law and they'd taken a pledge. When they came home changed and/or broken, they were abused, spat upon, insulted and ignored - their wounds - visible or not - were ignored or sneered at. My brother in law, whom I never met, was forced to volunteer by familial guilt by a nasty piece of work who married into the family. He came home broken and addicted to drugs. Never the same, he died at 40 from heart failure. He was at Hamburger Hill and deserved better. My uncle Keith lost his battle with rare bone cancer - that doesn't run in our family at all - because the water filters on board ship filtered out everything except Agent Orange and Agent Blue that wafted off shore and into the water. At least that was generally known but not talked about amongst the troops...

Sigh. Many hugs to anyone who has served or knows someone who has been in combat in a tough place.

You've awakened more memories than I can possibly give words to. I ache for all the good people lost or destroyed by wars and conflict. I demonstrated for peace, and spoke out for respect for those who went. A friend pointed out to me that so many women my age are single because "you sent your men to Vietnam."
My sophomores read _Fallen Angels_ as part of a novels unit. I was a bit afraid to revisit those times, but the book was well written, moving, and respectful.
When will we ever learn?

I was working in the art dept in Bklyn College when someone ran into the office and said that the President had been shot. No word as to whether or not he was still alive. I went to the window and looked out across the campus to the administration building and at that moment they began to lower the flag.

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