23 June 2007

1968


Last night I had the pleasure of watching the film "Bobby", which was written and directed by Emelio Estevez, who was a small child when the assassination occurred. But the impact stayed with him for years, and drove him to research the man and the events surrounding his death. 1968 was in fact a very tumultuous year. For many people- especially those of my generation.We were the new college graduates and eager young minds and were deeply impacted. In addition to some great music of the time, there was an underlying drone from the Vietnam war, which had been started in 1950. The draft was still in effect and many of those from high school were drafted and fought and died. For an excellent background on the war, check out http://www.vietnampix.com/.

Many of us were still reeling from the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Having grown up in the relative stability of post-World War II and the Bliss-filled 50's, it was inconceivable that our president, could be shot and killed. Then five years later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. And in June of the same year, Robert F. Kennedy was shot and killed. In October of that year, my mother died in two years later my father.
Much of that time is a blur to me, because of my own grief, war protesters and ongoing demonstrations. And even closer to home for me, were the events surrounding the Chicago Democratic convention and the killings at Kent State. Most college campuses were rioting. It gave a whole new meaning to civil unrest.
Following the Democratic convention there was martial law in the city of Chicago (where I was living), and it was not uncommon to see armed military vehicles driving in the streets.
In spite of all of the active demonstrations, the government refused to listen and troops did not start coming home until 1975.
The New York parade to welcome the brave men and women who fought--numbering some 3 million--was not until 1985.

In 1973 when I attended my 10 year class reunion and I was saddened by many absent faces. And the stories of friends whose lives were turned upside down by the events of that decade.

All of these memories were reawakened by watching the movie. The film is not so much about the assassination,but the loss of hope that Robert F. Kennedy represented to all of us and in particular, many of the people staying at the Ambassador Hotel or working for the senator's campaign. For so many, it was like having the rug pulled out from under them... again.
When I looked at the Vietnam web site, I felt sick with knowing that it's happening all over again.

The young woman with whom I correspond in Kabul, Afghanistan has not written for a week or so. She finally answered today and said that she was all right, but has had several friends killed in the last two weeks and she didn't feel like talking. She's in her early 20s, and has four children at home. And while I don't know her well, I think of her often and pray for her safety and fear for the day that I don't hear from her, just like Jimmy.
My first year of college, I began corresponding with the young man in the Air Force. He was the roommate of the guy engaged to my roommate. We exchanged letters every day and pictures for almost a year-he even sent me an Air Force lavalier. One day, he wrote to say he had received orders that he would be deployed to Vietnam, and that he would write when he got to his base. I never heard from him again.

Does anything could ever come from war?
Do we ever learn anything?




7 comments:

A.Fanny said...

So many resources, so much effort, obedience, creativity, so much death and for what?

Anonymous said...

very enlightening,not too fun.

Moi said...

You outlined a very turbulent period in our history which, despite it having happened only a few decades ago, nonetheless seems to have escaped most of our memories. Too bad, because we could certainly learn something from it.

Getting us involved in this war is not the only immoral act our government has perpetuated in recent history. Prior to it, it spent YEARS selling our young people the idea that service in the military is nothing more than a benign career choice. So if anything good comes of this, maybe, just maybe, it will be the fact that our young people will be less willing to sacrifice themselves to future slaughters.

Doris Rose said...

open for business

Wicked Thistle said...

Well, thank goodness.

Re: your post about Bobby, I have to admit that I wish I had been a bit more...cognentatious...at that time. However, I was two and not yet into politics. And yes, I did make that word up. Sometimes I feel that, politically, someone has snuck us the date rape drug and we're functioning in a daze, allowing things to happen to and around us without any real challenge to it. It saddens and perplexes me. In the Kennedy era, there was passion and belief and response, and I think people were the better off for it.

Moi said...

I responded this a.m. but apparently my comment didn't get through. I agree that we have an alarmingly short memory of our own history – I mean, the events you describe happened only, what, thirty years ago? Shame, because we could learn so much if only we didn't just remember, but also understand.

And I think another lesson: Let's not let our government advertise a stint in the armed forces with the atttiude that it's all one big happy career choice. Soldiering is dirty business. Our young people and their families somehow need to understand that as well, before making their choices.

A.Fanny said...

Yeah, I just heard an interview with the guy who blew the whistle on his mates who were harsassing and photographing the Abu Graib prisoners. He had grown up with them and they had all joined together. But after it became known that he was the whistle blower the military did not allow him to go home to his home town for fear of his safety. He and his wife had to move to another place and he is still considered a traitor in the small town where he was born. Who ARE we?

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