Vietnam and America in 1967

Some soldiers got drunk and climbed atop a memorial fountain before being run off politely by the Canadian police. Peter Miller, drafted out of the assembly line of a Procter & Gamble soap factory in Quincy, Massachusetts, found himself in jail in Seattle following a dustup at the bus station. | After a few weeks of this military being and nothingness, the men of C Packet were told to get their wills in order, their teeth fixed, and their dog tags ready because they were being shipped to Vietnam as permanent overseas replacements in the First Infantry Division. Most of them knew what was coming, but some were taken by surprise, and the news provoked a round of concerned calls to the base from relatives, congressmen, and clergy. —David MaranassVietnam and America in 1967 (MSNBC)

The above is an excerpt from Maranass’s book, which examines in detail an antiwar protest and an ambush on US forces in October, 1967. I wasn’t yet born then.

Seton Hill University is hosting a “War and Antiwar Memorabilia” display. In the halls of the admin building, weapons and uniforms from the war are displayed. In a room at one end of the hall are photos of Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) war dead, with rubbings of their names taken from the Vietnam War Memorial. Some facutly were holding a routine meeting in that room when I visited it a little while ago, just as if they weren’t in an impromptu shrine to our war dead. At the other end of the hall, in a large, brightly lit room that I had never seen used before, is a display of anti-war newspapers, poster, and slogans.

A cousin of my mother’s served in Vietnam, and when he came back sometime in the mid 70s, he started bringing over refugees. At one point, about 30 Vietnamese men and boys were living in our house, sleeping on the cement floor of our basement. We would eat dinner in three shifts. Cousin Jim and his friend Terry started a furniture business — first buying unfinished chairs and tables, finishing them, and then selling them on street corners.

I have no idea what my parents’ politics are on the Vietnam War, but my own youthful experience of seeing so many refugees who were grateful to America for giving them a place to go and start a new life for their families means that I didn’t grow up with the the knee-jerk “the war in Vietnam was bad” attitude that much of mainstream America has. And as a college student, I volunteered at a nursing home with a Vietnamese girl who was born in the U.S. of refugees who were grateful to the U.S. for giving them a place to go.