I spent the better part of the late sixties, and early seventies, flying combat missions in Vietnam. During that same period, others in my generation struggled persistently, ferociously and passionately, against great odds, to stop what they viewed as an ill-conceived and fruitless war.
Out of self-preservation, I didn't really focus on what the anti-war protesters were doing then, but I have grown to respect them for their unwavering passion and commitment. Thankfully, they won out, and the Vietnam War eventually ended. Historically, that war became just another one-page entry in a textbook, and the only lasting legacy of Vietnam is 58,000+ names carved on a somber black granite wall.
It is thirty-five years later now, but it seems we never seem to learn our lesson about the insanity that is war. Here we are in 2010, ensnarled in two wars, each of which has again claimed the lives
and limbs of some of the best and brightest of our youth, while simultaneously depleting our treasury ($1 Trillion and still counting)
, and we still have no credible explanation as to the mission and/or goals in either war, other than "to fight terrorism."
We seem to, once again, be linked to foreign cultures we don't understand, with allies that are untrustworthy, and who don't appear to have any clearly defined objectives other than maintaining a firm grasp on their own power. In the meantime, the killing and maiming continues. In my view, it is Vietnam all over again. This time, instead of using the "domino theory" mantra to justify our policy, we are using the "terrorism" bogeyman to explain the last nine years of war, as well as our need to continue with the quagmires they have become.
Where is the outrage? Why don't we march, picket, carry signs, write songs, etc. to stop the madness, and demand peace? Could it be that this generation of young people don't care about their contemporaries "dying for their country," as long as they don't have to? I think not. Is it because there was a draft in Vietnam, and not now? Maybe. Is it because these wars don't directly affect us on a daily basis? Could be.
Where is today's version of Woodstock, Peter, Paul & Mary, Arlo Guthrie, and Joan Baez? Whatever the reasons are for our national apathy, anti-war feelings, which I believe are still there, are dormant and inactive. I say again, where is the outrage? Have we lost our passion?
Are we too worried about who is going to replace Simon on Idol, or the drama of Lindsay Lohan's latest court battles, or perhaps we are concerned as to how we are going to afford an iPod, iPad, or iPhone. What has happened to our priorities? Just imagine what $1 Trillion could do for this country right now. In my view, it borders on the criminal.
There can only be war, if we let there be war. We have the power to stop it. Have we lost our passion? I believe we all need to ask ourselves that question.
Below are songs by Country Joe McDonald from Woodstock in the late sixties, and a Peter, Paul, and Mary selection, that hopefully demonstrate the passion and commitment shown by that generation toward stopping the Vietnam war. Listen to the message and enjoy the music.