50th Anniversary. Selma and Vietnam

Vietnam

Courtesy Fort Bragg, NC

Growing up in the 1960’s was a challenge. This weekend marked the anniversary of 2 very different events.

Edmud Pettus

March 7, 1965 Bloody Sunday

Much deserved attention has been focused on the civil rights tragedy at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965,  Blood Sunday.  Protestors were turned back after a few blocks, attacked by local law enforcement with billy clubs and tear gas.

This was the first of 3 marches for voting rights in Alabama, starting with 300 and leading to 25,000 folks who joined Martin Luther King on his peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, so brilliantly commemorated in the recent movie “Selma”.

This all led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

This weekend was also the 50th anniversary of the arrival of U.S. ground troops in Vietnam. The Indochina War was decades old at this point. U.S. troops were the largest military faction there from 1965 – 1968, supporting the South Vietnamese in their fight against Communism. In Vietnam, this period of American involvement was/is known as the “American War”.

The official record cites just under 60,000 American casualties. There were so many more whose lives were destroyed. Some by drug addiction, PTSD, mental health issues of all kinds; alienated from family, friends, and a judgmental nation who did not welcome them home.  The VA hospital in my home town was full of them.

In a blue collar town, college exemptions were rare. The children of poor and middle class families were most affected; some being drafted just days after high school graduation. They were sacrificed for a cause that few of us understood at the time.

Historians call it the “turbulent 60’s”.  The year 1965 was a pivotal one.

May we never forget.

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17 Responses to 50th Anniversary. Selma and Vietnam

  1. megdekorne says:

    Thank you Van … Your writing beautifully clear with the freedom flow of the “60’s” …I won’t forget … xxx love meg

  2. LadyPinkRose says:

    Your first image brought many tears to my eyes. Thoughts of what my husband went through in a photo is almost too much for me to bear. He has the Bronze Star for Bravery, bringing the injured and dead across a river in live fire to a Red Cross Helicopter. He had to turn around and go back to the shore, due to no room for him nor his Commanding Officer in that helicopter. Both dug themselves in the sand as US bombers were sent in just about right on top of them. Only 7 of 21 men survived that hit, he be one of them. Eighteen year old kid in hell. May we NEVER forget!

    • Dear God, Amy, I can feel the pain in your words. What a brave effort, especially for one so young. Most of us had no idea of what was really going on, we just saw how broken they were, if they even returned. Many did not. Thanks for sharing his story. Van

      • LadyPinkRose says:

        My husband is till broken, Van. To this day. I had hopes that with my Love, I would help heal that broken-ness. I honestly don’t think that will happen. Yes, I have seen progress made, yet every time I do, it seems it is one step forward, and then three steps back. It is not easy for me to keep the tears from falling. To witness the effects of war day to day, wears that one down, and it takes my every effort to keep focused on light and beauty … my photography and blog … to keep my spirits up. Thank you for listening, my friend. Not too many that I do know want to hear words such as what I have shared with you. So many still sweep under the rug, the realities of war and what war has done, not only to the one who experienced it, but those who now Love that one. (((HUGS))) Amy

      • I’m so sorry, Amy. He is lucky to have someone with your depth of love and compassion to be there for him. It’s been so long, and it is still so raw. Bless you both. Hugs to you. Van

      • LadyPinkRose says:

        Thank you, Van. It hasn’t been easy and there have been times I would have loved just to walk away. I’m determined to walk this journey out for the long haul. (((HUGS))) Amy

  3. I have yet to see the movie.
    As for Vietnam: We made them do it. We made them scapegoats when the war was criticized. We rejected them and treated them like garbage. Very sad.

    • It was the scourge of our generation. I was sure no one would ever sign up for the military after that. I was wrong, but I wonder if they lived up to their promises to the next generation of recruits ?? Sad, for sure.

  4. I saw “Selma” and thought it was terrific. It helped me understand that portion of our civil rights history much more clearly. Vietnam. My Dad served over there when I was in fourth grade and it was quite the trauma for our family. Thankfully he came home. So many did not. Such a terrible waste.

  5. hobo hippie says:

    very interesting article Van-I came to the U.S in the late 60’s as a young bride-my husband was lucky to get a deferment as he was in university and a soon to be father. He was thankfully spared the war. I maintain my hippie sensibilities to this very day-peace ana

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