Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vietnam, Practice War No More

The soldier in country in the photo is about 20 and you would like to see a photo of that boy state side before he became a hardened veteran of the Vietnam War. Carefully on his helmet he has check marked the months he has served in that crazy war. He had one month left and we hope he made it out alive. Also on the helmet is his blood type and the letters “DEA” which should be recognizable to those who served.
The photo is superimposed over a leather biker jacket with antiwar slogans and this is all you need to know about the 1968 exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. The first thing you will see is an actual medic evacuation helicopter from the war which the history center reassembled inside the building.
A moment in time and where were you then? I was a local government reporter at the Idaho Statesman, chasing down information for articles on urban renewal, city planning and pollution in the Gem State. If you would have told me then that 1968 was the zenith of my career I would have said you were crazy. But it’s true. I wanted to get close to the action and even considered driving to the Democrat convention in Chicago but someone in Boise must have talked me out of that notion.
On a lighter side, the exhibit features styles, music, television shows and movies that we saw in 1968, such as the Beatles, princess telephones and amber glass grapes, a decorative touch
All of this might have had less of an impact had I not just seen 15 hours of Ken Burns’ excellent documentary “The War” with ghastly images of bodies of allied soldiers in about 1944 lined up on the beach being prepared for burial in France in that war of necessity. “Practice war no more” must be a line from a Marvin Gaye song from the ‘60s.

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