Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Cow heard a veteran reminiscing on a radio show this weekend.

When he returned from Vietnam, he was shouted at doused with paint, and called a baby-killer by protesters.

And yet, he'd been drafted.

While the Iraq veterans, every one of whom enlisted, are greeted as heroes. Cow hopes this means that the country learned from Vietnam, don't blame the soldiers for the war, if you oppose it. Wonder if it does, or it just means that there is more empathy in general for the working man or woman, soldier in Iraq or paper-pusher in cubicle.

Where the emphasis in the Vietnam era was finding yourself, being true to beliefs, standing for something, now, everyone is just trying to make a living.



Blogger Susan said...

I've though a lot about this, especially in the early days of Iraq. I think part of it may be that it's the sons and daughters of those Vietnam vets, and the Vietnam protesters, that are now in Iraq, plus the lack of a draft. If we were in large part ignoring the homecomings, then I would say it was apathy. For many units their homecomings spark celebrations, not so much of the cause but of the people willing to serve. That's one thing I've been proud of. I don't know if the same holds true in other parts of the country, but it sure did when my uncle and cousin came home! Even the media "honors" the fallen and wounded soldiers while berating the govenment, which creates a boundry between the troops and policy. I think in that regard, we learned something from the mistakes surrounding Vietnam. In many other areas, I'm not so sure we did.

11:33 AM  
Blogger The Topiary Cow said...

Agreed, Susan. Your comments are interesting.

Cow is glad that the returning soldiers are celebrated for their undoubted sacrifices and bravery.

The tiny thought that bothers Cow is: without the widespread protests and disruption as occurred in Vietnam war times, will there be an impetus to end the war in Iraq?

Costs of middle-class living rising are usually not enough to cause social change.

Although, Napoleon said that as long as bread was cheap and plentiful, there would be no revolution.

Cow must think on this further. Thank you for your comment, Susan.


11:57 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Can't really blame the soldiers for doing what they're effectively forced to do. They joined voluntarily, but most of these people thought they were joining to protect OUR country, not others.

I have a t-shirt that says "Support the Troops, Hate the War."

12:02 PM  
Blogger The Topiary Cow said...

Cause and effect...

Were there not enough volunteers, would they be forced to institute a draft, which would in turn give rise to widespread protests, which would cause social disruption, and thus increase pressure to end the war?


12:39 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Sorry for rambling on. I wasn't actually ALIVE during Vietnam, but have been facinated by the impact of it since high school.

There are many, many different factors in both wars that make the social setting more complex. How much influence does/did the media have? (too much, in both situations!) How much did the political climate/controversies effect policy decisions? (Watergate and Nixon's resignation probably accelerated the end of Vietnam, 9/11 certainly accelerated the invasion of Iraq.)

I think you're right about there not being enough shake up to end the war today, but I don't think people feel quite as threatened by it as they did Vietnam. From what I've read, much, but certainly not all, of the protest was driven by younger people and centered around the draft. A lot of them were angry with the soldiers who "allowed" themselves to be drafted rather than protest. I know, sounds ridiculous, but not when you're 21 and about to be drafted. I've never though about this before, but I wonder if you took the draft out of Vietnam, how would that have changed the social setting in the US...

Anyway, young people today aren't threatened by that, so you're right, they don't care much. They are happy to support somebody else that volunteered so they don't have to go. And lets face it, we don't protest much of anything anymore. I do wonder how much impact the war will have on the next election, but I suspect it will have less impact than the economy. And that's very sad.

And please, anybody that lived through the Vietnam era, correct anything I've got wrong. Again, all I know is what I've read and heard. I wasn't there. There is a LOT I don't know or understand!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Ha. I didn't see your last comment before posting my essay. You summarize a lot better than I do!

12:48 PM  
Blogger The Topiary Cow said...

Thank you very much for your comments, young Susan.

Cow was in high school during Vietnam...I think you're right about the media influence, as well as other events, Watergate...all that you say.

During the 1970's it seems most young men (drafted at age 18) were opposed to going to war at all. Now, people willingly sign up, even if they are going to Iraq.

Perhaps it's just a different time, different priorities. Perhaps the media has made it interesting, or at least adventurous to young men.

Stacey, Cow's post was not intended in any way not to support the troops. She is very impressed with them. She just wonders why so many of them have volunteered.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Time and technology. It's been 30 years since Vietnam, today's volunteers never saw it firsthand. In Desert Storm those super-cool bombing videos on TV made going to war look more cool than dangerous. I also suspect that with the newer technology we don't require quite as many troops to wage war. We've also relied heavily on the Nat'l Guard, which sure felt safe when they joined ROTC in college! I do wonder if there's been a drop in military recruiting over the past couple of years. I'd bet there has been.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Supermom said...

Interesting dialogue!

4:44 PM  
Blogger Sandi said...

I wish people would boo the elected leaders who send our soldiers to Iraq. It's not the soldiers' fault this war is going on. Yet, GWB got re-elected, and only one presidential candidate that I can tell is truly in support of bringing them home immediately.
Why, if more than 70 percent of Americans are against the war, are we still there? Why are we still in Kosovo, Korea, Europe for that matter? Are people too polite to stand up for what they believe in? Do people just not care?

7:17 AM  
Blogger The Topiary Cow said...

Cow thinks people care. Maybe the people who care just don't have the power to change things.

It did seem that in the 1970's people had a lot more time to protest.

Now everyone is too busy. Maybe that's part of the strategy, keep prices high, so everybody has to work all the time to pay bills, and then nobody has time to protest?


10:41 AM  
Blogger Sandi said...

Maybe that is the strategy. Whatever it is, it's working.

7:25 AM  

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