Friday, September 30, 2005



I watched this program about the Sixties the other night on public TV. It had been on before but I saw it totally through for the first time. Very interesting. I was in Vietnam during the pivotal time, according to the show. And, like all documentaries, it tells the story from a particular perspective. The perspective being that the entire country was into the summer of love, San Francico and Berkeley being the place to be--the student movement, the black panthers, etc.. And, of course for the discerning person that was not true. The events that they think were turning points, I don't see at all and was mostly in their imagination. Someone said that "a person's perception is their reality" and so true. The documentarian of the program, The Sixties, has a perception and for him and the writers, it is their reality. But, for many of us, so entirely different.

One of those interviewed on the draft said something like, "anybody with intelligence, sophistication and didn't want to go to Vietnam, could get out of it. Relatively true and was one of the things wrong with the draft.

And, some of the facts in the program were wrong. An event in 67, before I went to Vietnam, I was with the 503d Military Police Battalion. We went to Washington for the March on the Pentagon. The 503d was shown in lots of pictures and the documentary called them the 82d Airborne. Not. The 82d was not even there. Now, does that make any difference? No. But, I think what it means is simply that TV, movies, etc. have a story to tell and sometimes the facts, even very relevant ones, get lost in the process.

The facts are that Vietnam was a sorry war. The draft was incredibly inequitable and consequently there was no sense of shared sacrifice. The Sixties were an important time in reflection but the perception of the TV documentary did not fit the rest of the country. But, surely cannot be minimized either in terms of the events and the significance even if not universal. As far as the "draft" is concern, what we are shown that we do not want a draft in the Sixties context. The draft to be successful must be only one avenue for an AllServe approach to service. For that fact alone, thanks for the good documentary.

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