And I thought my Dad was apathetic
while I was serving during the Viet Nam era.
Nowadays one of my axes to grind is national apathy toward the invasion and occupation of Iraq and lack
of empathy for families with skin in the game.
In the 60's and 70's when I served - and that was 6 years active duty USAF and 2 years Army Reserve
- I did not have much occasion or need to shush my family/extended family since none of them were speaking out. And an
active duty son of an veteran of WWII knew better than to speak up when at home on leave.
I came out of a conservative-patriotic republican state and culture (SE Corner of Idaho: 40 miles from Utah
and 40 miles from Wyoming. Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, the 3 remaining states with the most Bush supporters.)
Solidarity in worrying for the well-being of the rest of the guys in my unit seemed to be the highest concern
rather than whether or not the war in Indo-China or the Cold War with Russia was legitimate.
But having said that, I also confess that in retrospect, my outrage against Jane Fonda had little or nothing
to do with reading or thinking about what she was saying. It had everything to do with the publicity around her, those inflammatory
pictures and the urban legends created back then that have followed her all her life.
I remember coming home after discharge in the mid-70’s to straighten out all my family’s apathy
about our government in the early 1970's because by then, like my WW II father, I'd been there now, and done that
... well to the degree that flyboys can be there and do that.
So I could tell my father that Viet Nam was nothing like WW II or even Korea and disregard the fact
that he was drafted and faced a much greater risk to himself in WW II than I did flying at 35,000 feet doing radio intercept
in a recon aircraft.
His stories were of course about places like Guadalcanal, the Battle of the Bulge and even Dunkirk even
though he spent the war on Adak in the Aleutians as a radio relay operator.
However, the personal perspective he revealed in the early 1980's when he was nearer my age now just blew
I had grown up listening to him talk about WW II and watching the 1940's and 50's John Wayne and Audie Murphy
movies with him.
I assumed he was a Republican voter because my mother usually voted for Democrats and Dad always complained
about her negating his own vote.
I was gone well before I could have heard him talk about the Republican presidents who succeeded Johnson.
But I remember that Dad had liked Ike.
My Dad was a farm implement salesman who was also a musician, playing a sax and singing for his 3-piece
combo in local night clubs. He was not a shy person.
But in all those years following his WW II service other than occasional swipes at all politicians, we were
all left guessing as to what he really thought. Well, except for the night he brought Frank Church home for supper in the
1950’s when Church was running for U.S. Senator. He liked Frank Church.
He rarely read and only kept one book, a huge memorial history of WW II that now sits in my bookcase.
In the mid 1980's Dad came to live with me for a while in Vancouver, WA. The movie Red Dawn had just come
out and we watched it. After words he said in his quiet voice that no longer sang in night clubs,
"Gives you something to think about."
and then this observation that astounded me.
"That sonofabitch Nixon, killed more of our boys than needed to die."
He absolutely despised Nixon for how the 1968 campaign promises about Viet Nam were ignored, repudiated
and obscured while the Republican commander-in-chief and his ass-Kissinger only made things worse, not better.
I’ve read how the Uniform Code of Military Justice forbids denigrating the Commander-in-Chief.
But I'm of course post-UCMJ and no longer subject to its jurisdiction so I can tell you ...
I also hate comparisons to Nazis and was not even thinking about that when I wrote this diary. However ...
that sonofabitch Bush lied to me and to all of us. He lied to get us to invade Iraq and make of this country an aggressor
nation. He lied to get our soldiers to shoot to kill when it never had to be that way with Iraq.
If Nuremberg hurts your feelings, then let's shift it to The Hague. Either way, that sonofabitch deserves
The Hague and our country deserves better than the taint he's given us, Nazi or otherwise.