Thursday, May 03, 2007

FOUR DEAD


Dad had served in the Air Force in WWII as a Mechanic and was attached to Patton in North Africa. He went on to Italy after Sicily fell and later to France.
"Available Jones" was the name of the plane that my Dads crew worked on. Beneath the lettering was the obligatory busty gal. This one was a Brunette, and she poses with her hair thrown back, one hand behind her head
The plane was a B-26, a medium range bomber.

In the Spring of 1970 Dad took me to see the movie "PATTON". He was so proud to take me and I was proud to see it with him.
To this day I enjoy the movie because it brings back memories of Dad and how he and his fellows truly saved the world. George C. Scott is outstanding as the General known as "Ol Blood and Guts". One of my favorite scenes is while he is in charge of Occupying Forces in Berlin immediately after Germany surrenders. He is on the phone with Eisenhauer I suppose, talking about the Russians and he tells him, regarding the Russians
"Up till now we have been fighting the wrong people; you say the word and I'll start a fight with those Communist Bastards and make it look like their fault"
Eisenhaeur hung up on him.
The solution was to build a wall through the middle of Berlin that would later, much later, be torn down.

After the Movie, Dad and I sat in the theater and he told me a few War stories before we left.
In the Parking lot of the theatre there was a car with an "America: Love it or Leave it" bumper sticker.
Right next to it was another car with a bumper sticker that read "Richard Nixon is a War Criminal".
Dad and I didn't know it as we walked out of the Theatre but the country was about to sink right out from under us.
Donovan had that song "Atlantis" that was #1 for so long. It was about a country that had sunk
"way down below the Ocean"
and took all these great people with it.
"Hail Atlantis"

America was well into "Incense and Peppermints", Nehru jackets and Earth Shoes, Paisley and Pot and “Sock-It -To -Me-Baby”.
We had Goldie Hawn and Tiny Tim and Hunter Thompson.
We also had Archie Bunker.
The Anti-War Movement by Students was well under way and on the horizon loomed an event so great that many of those that had been unsure about the War, and the protest, would become fanatics against the War. Up to and including Businessmen, housewives, and former members of the Establishment.
And for the kids in my class who would miss the draft, it was evidence enough not to trust anyone over 30.

I can think of few more ghastly images than the ones that came out of Kent State University on May 4, 1970. I thought of posting the heart-wrenching photo 0f the girl on her knees with that confused and pleading posture, but I won't.
CSN&Y sang the headlines..."Four Dead in Ohio"

The shootings became a defining event of the Vietnam War era.
Vietnam was right here, in the classroom, across the nation, up your street. It was no longer waiting at the curb in the form of a draft notice, it was knockin on your door.
It wasn't some disturbed and darkened mind with a gun on Campus doing the killing as we see these days.
It was our very own National Guard sent there to "Restore Order" .


It is said that the Kings of Atlantis became the Gods of Greek mythology whose goal was the peaceful existence of all the nations and that Atlantis was the region where man first rose from a state of barbarism to civilization.
Stephen King has a book called "Hearts in Atlantis". He likens the students back then to the Antlanteans from the Myth. I recommend it highly.... Mr. King is known for horror, which this book is not. Its more about kids trying to grow up and in doing so losing their belief in a place called Atlantis, where everything is Saturday Morning Groovy, to find that there are still little pieces of dreams and hopes and hearts 40 years later.
Hail Atlantis.


What did I learn from Kent State when I was only 13 years old? I learned that I could change because, quite frankly, like a lot of people after Kent State, I thought maybe those kids deserved it, deserved getting shot. It took a few weeks for it to sink in, and for me to decide that NO! it wasn’t OK for armed troops to come to Kent State or Central Junior High or L.D. Bell and start firing their weapons into the crowd no matter what.
I learned that WE COULD change the world, that it ‘s dying to get better.
I had a teacher that year, she was a mod lookin' hippie teacher with posters of Jimi and Janis on her classroom wall, along with a poster that said ‘War is not healthy for children and other living things” and I imagine she had a lot of friends in the ‘Nam, and that maybe she even went on protests and that maybe she even went to Kent State and I couldn’t hardly imagine her, with that long blonde hair, getting shot for speaking out. Miss Cantrell, she was an Atlantian.
As much as that day sticks to me, I can't imagine how it must stick to Miss Cantrell.
Like her brothers that spent time in the 'Nam, I hope she has found a way to "get over".
The hippies were definitely Atlantians.
I think Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were Atlantians.
I think in a way, even ol LBJ, who said he didn’t want to be President anymore, grew his hair out and became Atlantian.

Dad hated to think we had been fighting a useless War, and like a lot of patriots, it took years for him to become an Atlantian.
I like to think that maybe he did.
"When your continent starts to sink underneath your feet it really does a number on your head." Hail, Atlantis.

10 comments:

Mother of Invention said...

Wow..it hit you guys straight on. You indeed had defining moments then. We just sorta heard the spin-offs from thr real thing south of us.

My dad loved that movie, Patton, and George C. Scott was perfect for it. We bought it for him. (He also loved Papillon with Steve McQueen)

Mother of Invention said...

There were a bunch of movies on Vietnam..The Deer Hunter, Coming Home, Good Morning Vietnam...what others? Was Apocalypse Now?

GEWELS said...

Wow-Steve-
I was never really involved in following the Vietnam war- I was so young then, too.
But you have made it so real with this last post. I mean, it was real- but, It never really affected me as it obviously has you. Thanks for the moving history lesson.

Quack, Quack! said...

"The Brass Target"
- another great Patton movie.
Yup the idea is for Americans to stay alive and "to make some other poor bastard die for his country."

Annelisa said...

I read a really good book about this woman who was over in vietnam when war broke out, and how, if she stayed she would be shot. She stayed, cut and dyed her hair, and dressed as one of the vietnamese, all the while helping where she could. It was a very moving book, and for the life of me I can't remember the title (I hope I do - it was a true story).

I wish wars like this could stop... this minute, right now. But, with peoples' pomposity, greed and lack of tolerance I can't see it happening. We need some sort of 'world classroom', with some sort of massive teacher telling us to behave...

GrizzBabe said...

Thank God for all the Atlantians for our time.

Barbara said...

I'm starting to have that same helpless feeling now as we hear about more and more unnecessary deaths and casualties in Iraq. You'd think we would have learned something from Viet Nam. But no, we never really learn any lessons from history.

Old Lady said...

It was the sort of thing that broke everyone's heart. Unbelieveable it was.

Kim said...

Mr. BH, this is a very eloquent piece on a subject that is near and dear to me. If ever a generation tried to make the world a better place for children and other living things, it was that group your teacher belonged to, and they almost got up enough momentum to do it. But forty years later, here it is, the same old weary world, and as a generation, we are just like those before us. Jaded. Heart-broken. If we choose to subscribe to the Christian perspective, it will be this way until Jesus comes blasting out of the sky. And if we don't believe that version of the future, it's all pretty grim, yank.

bulletholes said...

Kim, I've edited this one maybe twice since this first posting. It cleaned up real nice. I think the last edit is here...
http://srevestories.blogspot.com/2010/05/four-dead.html