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My Mother, My Generation and War

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My mother, a woman that fought with me constantly over politics, was a liberal Democrat and she idolized Eleanor Roosevelt. She grew up during the depression, and like so many others that grew up poor, remembered FDR as the one that gave America hope in a dark time. We fought about Vietnam, she believed that we had to stop the communists. I was against the war, eventually she, like so many others, came to see that the war was wrong, mismanaged, and all it managed to do was tear our country apart. In my own family we had shouting matches and sometimes we wouldn't talk to each other for months. It was a bad time.

I joined the Army in January of 1968. I thought I would end up in 'Nam. Many of my friends were wounded or died there. Suffolk County, New York, had the largest number of people that served in Vietnam. We had very efficient draft boards. We now have the second largest Vietnam Memorial located on Bald Hill in Coram. The war is not a favorite subject with people, even to this day. Most of my friends were anti-war. It was a time when we stood up for our beliefs and marched, and demonstrated. The radio stations were full of anti-war songs. We demonstrated and fought against the War. Nixon was hated by most people of my generation, as was Kissenger and Agnew. They told lies and more lies. We protested until the U.S. pulled out of Vietnam. It still took the lives of 58,000 of our best and brightest. I have heard NeoCons say that our Army was no good back then. They claim that we did not have the will to fight that we let our nation down. The real truth is that the U.S. Army, Marines, Air Force and Navy never lost a major engagement during that war. We defeated the enemy on the battleground. The war was lost on the conference table by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.

They said we were fighting guerrillas in black pajama's and cone hats. In reality, we were fighting NVA regiments with tanks and artillery. They lied to the American people, over and over again. When a soldier returned from Vietnam, he was more than likely facing job discrimination because people were afraid of the vets with the "thousand yard stare". The people that got into the Guard and Reserves, or had letters from psychologists or psychiatrists saying that they were unfit for duty, or those that became professional students to escape the draft, got the good jobs. They are now the ones running this new war in Iraq.

The thing that I can't understand is where did all the people go that fought so hard in the late 60's and early 70's to stop a wrongful war? I see the generation that we believed was going to change the world turn into the same people we fought against. I have not changed. When I heard Bush telling those lies about WMD's, and Iraq supporting Bin Laden, I was horrified. My wife and I couldn't believe that we were seeing history repeat itself. I imagine that the Germans in 1933 thought the very same thing. They had just lost a war less than 15 years ago and here was Hitler starting a new one. My wife and I thought that our generation would come out of the woodwork and stop this insanity before Bush could get his plans in action, but they didn't. Not only did my generation remain quiet, they were the ones that were stoking the fires. All of the "Hippies" that had stayed home while other's fought in Vietnam, were now NeoCons that seemed to regret that they missed the last big war. Those that didn't support the war were uncharacteristically silent. They were afraid to speak against it for fear of being labeled anti-patriotic or charged with treason in this post 9/11 world.

That was exactly the way the Nazi's got people to fear speaking out against Hitler. They set fire to the Riechstag and anyone that didn't support Hitler in his war against terrorism was put in jail or executed. There are people in this country now that are saying that the Neocons were behind 9/11. I don't know if I believe that, but the story is still the same; people were afraid to speak out.

They say that the winners write history. Whatever happens, the story will be written. Nixon is not regarded as a hero. He resigned because he lied to the American people. People don't seem to remember that Henry Kissinger also lied, and now he is giving advice to a Nixon clone in the White House again. Bush will not go down as a great President. He is lucky if he finishes his term. This time however, the generation that forced Nixon out of Vietnam, and ultimately out of the White House will not be able to claim this victory. The same generation that stopped one senseless war seems to have started another senseless war.

I have not changed however. The faces have changed, but the story remains the same. I see a Republican right wing doing the same thing in 2006 that they did in 1972. Vietnam is now a happy country that is independent and is finally seeing economic prosperity and freedom after a hundred years of colonialism. The "Domino Theory" that Nixon and Kissinger pushed so hard was a political strategy to scare Americans. That this Islamic Jihad that will end up being a Caliphphate will end up in the same index of failed political strategies. The thing that I can't seem to understand, is where are all the people that helped put a stop to the needless killing in Vietnam? I also can't understand why the Democrats voted to give the President the Authorization to use force against Iraq. If I knew that Bush was lying, why didn't they? There is no excuse for what the Democrats did. There is no excuse for silence when you see your government invade another country for political and economic gain. As a citizen you not only have the rights of a citizen, you also have a responsibility to insure that your government does the will of the people, not the other way around. I can't believe that I have to say this to the generation I grew up with. This is such a given, these actions by our government are so wrong, I wouldn't even had to argue with my mother about it. This time, she would have known from experience that what's happening is wrong.
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Tim Gatto is Ret. US Army and has been writing against the Duopoly for the last decade. He has two books on Amazon, Kimchee Days or Stoned Colds Warriors and Complicity to Contempt.

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