I saw courage both in the Vietnam War and in the struggle to stop it. I learned that patriotism includes protest, not just military service.
-- John Kerry, Secretary of State and Vietnam veteran
I created the ink wash drawing at left during the war. The source was probably a magazine or newspaper image. Back then images of the carnage of war streamed daily into our consciousness. Rows of flag draped coffins, napalmed civilians and the ongoing protests, many of which I was a part of. Not like today where we get a more palatable sanitized version of war. Back then, you could be drafted at 18, but couldn't vote until 21. This age group was the most likely to be put in harms way, but had no say in the matter. They did change the law and my first opportunity to vote was a choice between re-electing Richard Nixon and George McGovern in '72. It wasn't a difficult one, I voted for McGovern who was against the war, but Tricky Dick won in a landslide. But finally the growing chorus of voices could no longer be ignored and 'peace with honor' was at last negotiated. Over 50,000 Americans were killed and the draft has never been used again. I worked with a Vietnamese guy who was a child there while the war was going on. He asked teasingly; "Did you come to my country and make Boom-Boom?" I said, "I know we all look alike, but it wasn't me, man!" All 18 year old men had to register for selective service, as they still do, and the draft was preceeded by a lottery where they would pick your birthday to determine in what order you would be drafted. This was a televised ritual that was repeated every year. The year my number came up, the war had begun to wind down and thankfully they cancelled the draft before they got to me. Phew! I'm certain no one from that era has forgotten their lottery number. Mine was 153. The year before, my birthday came up #1. And because of that, it was a time of, Eat, Drink and be totally out of your mind, for tomorrow... Anyway, on a lighter note, the first bumper sticker I ever had on one of my vehicles was: Impeach Nixon. (Yes it was a VW bus! Haha!) And we all know what happened to him... So for me today is a day of celebration and also one of reflection and mourning. So let us hold our standard high. Pray for, and affirm Peace.