Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Mon May 24 15:23:49 UTC 2010

This is totally anecdotal, I'm sure, but as someone who was a
"hippie" (we always called ourselves "freaks" at U. of MI in '68-'72)
and somewhat of an antiwar activist , I want to echo what Charlie
said about our attitudes toward veterans of Vietnam.  While we were
shocked and horrified at events like My Lai, and didn't have much
love for the commanders and less for the politicians giving the
ultimate orders, we were sympathetic to ordinary soldiers on the
whole, many of whom had been our friends and classmates once upon a
time.  The people who were pro-Vietnam War tended more often to look
on the vets as "losers" and scorned them, as Charlie said, from what
I saw.  I'm not sure how prevalent that view was among those
"Greatest Generation" members who had actually been in combat versus
those who had not--my dad would have had opinions about that (even
though he had not, himself).

IMHO, these stories were just grist for the propaganda mill during
the rightward turn of American politics leading up to the Reagan
years, along with the constant claims of massive numbers of American
MIAs still languishing in Vietnamese prisons (until the '90s).

Paul Johnston
On May 24, 2010, at 9:29 AM, Charles Doyle wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Vietnam
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
> Not to quibble (who among us would do THAT?), but reports of
> youthful protesters' spitting on soldiers who were returning from
> the battlefields of Vietnam probably shouldn't be called "urban
> legends"--since a LEGEND would be a narrative, and the reports
> contain little or no actual narrative. But there certainly is a
> prevalent folk belief here.
> The "radical" leftish groups with which I liked to identify in
> those days generally espoused sympathy with the returning soldiers--
> who were themselves victims of the "machine" (or whatever).
> It tends to be forgotten that the most effective opposition to the
> generous treatmant of Vietnam War participants (for example, making
> available high-quality medical care and educational benifits) came
> from so-called "veterans" groups--the American Legion and the VFW.
> Members of the vaunted Greatest Generation seemed loath to regard
> participants in such late, minor, and failed skirmishes as true
> veterans.
> --Charlie
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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