Thursday, June 21


Sharp words and bitter exchange, because
the world was arranged either Hawks or Doves.

Vietnam never seemed so far removed,
it was LIVE T.V., new and improved;

an anti-establishment, peace-symbol chic ~
battle-lines drawn between the strong and the weak,

patchwork jeans and bandanna ensigns,
matched against the suits and ties.

Back on the home front, I’ll tell you what ~
real issues revolved around my brother’s haircut.

* It was all-out war: the peace symbol sticker my older brother put on his bedroom window might as well been a call to arms at our house. An unused razor was his weapon of choice. In another year or two he would be almost six feet tall. He would present himself a hippie-classic by sporting wire-rimmed, John Lennonesque eye glasses, bushy, mutton-sideburns and long hair parted down the middle.

Papa rode him mercilessly for his new suede 'fruit boots', but was almost speechless with disgust when Danny purchased his knee-high fringed hippie moccasins. For now, he was longing to make the cross-country trek to something called “Woodstock” . Papa presented 225 lbs of raw, Dighton High line-backer conservative Establishment counter-persuasion. Danny would have to experience the music at home.

The Vietnam War (1945-1975) was destined to be one of our greatest national controversies. Never an officially declared war, America’s commitment to the conflict began in 1954. By 1965, 184,000 American young men were fighting in Vietnam. General Westmoreland requested an additional 200,000 troops in 1968. The peak level of American troops in Vietnam was 543,400.

Public opinion began to turn against American escalation in both moral and material terms. Across college campuses students objected to the war and made a public display of burning draft cards and American flags. Media coverage offered by newsmen in the line of fire equipped with unprecedented technology, entered millions of American living rooms with horrific images of carnage. Death was live and in color for the first time in the history of warfare. Political and moral values were deeply threatened no matter which side you were on. “The War” would not go away, and neither would its influence on our culture and way of life.

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