Today is the 38th anniversary of the day President Nixon went on national television – all three channels – to announce attacking Cambodia, Vietnam’s western neighbor. To many this was a widening of the Vietnam War. And this was also the trigger for anti-war protests that led to the death of four Kent State University students on May 4th.
I probably ignored that Nixon announcement as I ignored almost all news of the Vietnam War at that time. On April 30, 1970, I’d been married less than eight months to a man about to go on active army duty. I found playing ostrich with my head buried in the sand a very comforting position.
Last night I watched the NCSI episode that takes place in Baghdad. While the actual murder is done by an outsider, the episode conveys some of the chaotic and lethal conditions for U.S. troops in Iraq. In contrast, David Denby in his review of the new movie IRON MAN in the May 5th New Yorker said that “it’s worth noting that, possibly, more Americans will see this dunderheaded fantasia on its opening weekend than have seen all the features and documentaries that have labored to show what’s happening in Iraq and on the home front.”
In the 1987 movie GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (directed by Barry Levinson, written by Mitch Markowitz) there’s a scene that has remained vivid in my memory. In the movie Robin Williams plays Adrian Cronauer, an Air Force disk jockey at the Army-Air Force radio station in Saigon. Cronauer befriends a young Vietnamese man who later “pulls” Cronauer out of a restaurant right before it explodes. What Cronauer refuses to understand is that the young man is Viet Cong, and he has saved Cronauer’s life out of friendship. The other American military personnel in the restaurant didn’t have a friend to pull them to safety.
Tomorrow is the first day of May, which brings with it the American holiday of Memorial Day. For many Americans now, Memorial Day is simply a day off from work, a day for picnicking or shopping. Yet, during junior high school in Elgin, Illinois, when I was in band, we marched in a parade to the cemetery on Memorial Day to honor those who fought and died for our country.
As Memorial Day approaches – and regardless of what we think of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, let’s remember the men and women of past wars who died in harm’s way protecting our freedom as well as those men and women now in harm’s way.
If you want recommendations on how to show support for military personnel and their families today – check out my website at http://www.mrslieutenant.com/support.php.