Veterans Corner: Vietnam era challenges
By Jesse Church
Aloha all my fellow veterans and residents of Molokai, old Jesse here with all the veterans news and upcoming events. In the 1960s with the war in Vietnam raging and the Civil Rights movement in full swing, political activism in the U.S. among many young Americans on college campuses was at its highest. Groups like Students for a Democratic Society appeared and activities like burning of draft cards became common place. With the huge opposition to the war, draft-age males fled to Canada and other countries by the thousands in an effort to avoid their obligation to the U.S. military.
Their actions had many of their parents – many of whom had served in World War II and Korea — scratching their heads wondering where they went wrong with their upbringing. The misunderstanding between these parents and children then trickled down to an even younger generation with free-thinking to topics like hairstyles, profanity and sex. Then came the more troublesome problem – the use of drugs like LSD, marijuana and hallucinogenics. Though disturbing, a lot of this was being written off as the excesses of youth, which in my mind was the wrong thing to do, because the use of drugs then swept the country and we still have the problem today.
Please don’t think I’m trying to put these young Americans down, as they were free to do as they wish, as long as they did not break the law. I’m also not saying that I and my fellow veterans are better than they because we served in the military. But I think that all us young Americans of the 1960s had to make a lot of difficult decisions at a young age, and I believe we made the better decisions than the draft dodgers and protestors. We respected the U.S. President, Congress and our parents’ wishes, and I believe that was the correct thing to do. We went to Vietnam but we didn’t have the phones of today and we were not able to call home and none of the people back home supposed us like we support today’s troops. Service organizations did not send us packages with all kinds of goodies like they do today. When we came home, we were not given a hero’s welcome like today’s returning troops; instead we were called baby killers and they protested what they said was our use of Napalm of women and children. It was so bad that many returning veterans would not tell anybody they were a Vietnam vet.
It’s time for a question: Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th U.S. President, once said you have a row of dominoes set up and you knock over the first one and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. What was he trying to explain to the American people? The answer will be in next week’s column.
Please continue to support our troops stationed at home or abroad. Let’s all pray for their safe return home and thank them for their service to our country. If anyone has any questions, suggestions or news, please call old Jesse at 553-3323. Everyone have a wonderful week and remember old Jesse loves you all. Until next week, aloha.