I have spent nearly three years researching and writing a book about the ill-behaved antics of those in the Vietnam Antiwar movement and its hostility towards those serving in the military of the United States. I was in the USAF from 1973 through 1977 and suffered some deprivations at the hands of these zealots. While most of the fighting involving the U.S. military was over prior to my enlistment, thanks to the constant ministrations of those in the antiwar movement, I and my fellow enlistees enjoyed a social standing normally reserved for petty criminals and street mimes. Changing out of our uniforms before leaving base simply avoided problems. At a time when I was making $512 a month and a full fare airplane ticket home was $560, I borrowed the money to buy the full fare ticket rather than fly military standby. You had to be in uniform to fly military standby and that wasn’t worth the risk.
Okay, no parades, no free beer for the troops, no nubile young ladies with a kiss for a serviceman. It happens. Put in your time, get out, go to college and try to convince fellow students you recently emerged from a four year coma to explain why you are so much older than everyone else. Better that folks be wary of you for a major neurological disorder than suspect you served your country honorably. In the back of one’s mind, you entertain the fantasy that eventually, someone will figure out what happened and maybe, your service to your country will be seen in a positive light. Candidly, Most ex GIs would forego the parade for the attentions of the previously mentioned nubile young lady but I digress.
Two things, perhaps not unrelated occurred recently and rather simultaneously: those serving in the Armed forces were returned to a stature befitting the sacrifices they stand ready to make. Secondly; apparently those who participated in the Vietnam antiwar movement determined that a much deserved blot on the movement resulting from its poor treatment of American Servicemen must now be eliminated. That this endeavor would require no small amount of historical revision apparently was deemed inconsequential.
Normally, the duplicity incumbent in rewriting history is fraught with pitfalls including, but not limited to the superficial and rather transparently self-serving nature of the endeavor. Fortuitously, those involved in the Vietnam antiwar movement had been rewarded with advanced liberal arts degrees, teaching assignments at prestigious universities and membership in the kinds of organizations that do not normally welcome ex-USAF enlisted troops into their ranks.
There were two obstacles inherent in the rehabilitation of the Vietnam Antiwar movement: everything antiwar activists said and everything they did. Simply writing these things out of the historical record apparently would suffice in the academic world but what to do with all the mistreated veterans in the real world? The simplest solution and one that had some historical precedent was to simply claim the hostility didn’t exist and that the vets fabricated it.
But what really happened to the troops returning from Vietnam? What was really going on in the Vietnam Antiwar Movement? Did you know:
- In 1968, members of the Vietnam Antiwar movement called the wife and family of Captain Christopher O’Sullivan to express the opinion that Capt. O’Sullivan “Got what was coming to him”. Capt O’Sullivan had been killed coming to the rescue of his fellow Marines during an ambush in Vietnam.
- The Medal of Honor Society meeting in Hollywood California in 1967 had several members spat on by antiwar protesters.
- At the inauguration of Governor Ronald Reagan, one protester, waving a Viet Cong Flag wanted John Wayne arrested when Wayne questioned the youth’s patriotism (and probably his ancestry).
- The widowed wife of a 1st Calvary officer was called a hypocrite by antiwar protesters when she said her husband had died fighting for what he believed in. Fearing repercussions, the widow requested that a reporter not use her name in a newspaper article as “I have given all I can for my country”.
- The wife of one POW moved into an apartment building with armed guards to avoid harassment by antiwar activists.
- Vietnam veterans against the war (VVAW) was so small that even at its peak, less than 1/3 of one percent of Vietnam Veterans joined. The justice department reported in 1972 that more Vietnam Vets were in outlaw motorcycle gangs than in VVAW.
- Contrary to what is often reported by the antiwar movement, by 1972 VFW and American Legion combined had 750,000 Vietnam Vets as members which was about 25 times more members than VVAW.
- Five college football games in the vicinity of DC had larger crowds than a 1967 antiwar protest. 25,000 participants might seem large but not when the local population numbers eight million.
- SDS failed to attract even 1% of the students on any campus where it had a chapter. One hundred students out of 38,000 can always get on the news by acting like idiots. What about the 37,900 who didn’t participate?
- At most SDS campus protests, hecklers outnumbered protesters and many of the SDS members involved, weren’t students at the college to begin with.
- During the Chicago Democratic Convention Riots, more people attended White Sox and Cubs baseball games than the protest?
- And yes, the antiwar movement’s leaders were drawn from half a dozen communist/socialist organizations and yes, they were trying to start a revolution.
- The antiwar movement was a complete failure: did not influence elections, had no effect on Congressional votes and Richard Nixon’s approval ratings often WENT UP after antiwar protests.
- The American people, even when they no longer supported U.S. involvement in Vietnam were equally sure they did not like those in the antiwar movement.
- Both WWI and Korea were less popular wars than Vietnam.
So how is it that the average American doesn’t know these things? “Yes Virginia” draws on 4500 contemporaneous newspaper articles, magazine articles and period books many written by those involved in the antiwar movement. Lavishly footnoted and illustrated with several hundred similar examples, “Yes Virginia” vividly provides the evidence that those in the Vietnam Antiwar movement were ill behaved, a small minority, in collusion with the North Vietnamese, and extremely hostile towards America’s military. And yes, the troops were spat on. It should be noted: not all the troops were spat on and not all in the antiwar movement were hostile towards the troops. But hostility existed and it was documented during the war.
This is a timely book written in an entertaining fashion, taken literally from the newspapers and periodicals of the day and often using the damning words of the protesters themselves.
There should be far reaching interest in this book: the academic community, the baby boomers and every Vietnam Era vet out there not to mention those requiring a foil to the revisionist and often error filled tomes that project the antiwar movement in a an inaccurate manner. Yes, the vast majority of participants at large protests were well intentioned kids but the leadership and most campus based radicals had a far more sinister side that today is simply ignored.
Is this project a worthwhile endeavor? Apparently, the literary agents of the world don’t think so. Which is probably not surprising but these experts have rejected this project out of hand, without a single inquiry. Given all the crap in the discount bin at Barnes and Noble, you'd think somone would be concerned. In any case, Look for "Yes Virginia" in Ebook format soon.