Last Thursday was Veterans Day and as usual I was listening to our local NPR radio station while driving home. They were doing a story on war songs of the Viet Nam era, which I am able to say that I was a part of. When I left college it was a time of high draft levels, so rather than wait to be called up as a mud pounder I followed family tradition and joined the Navy. I worked repairing airplanes, and while I was there our squadron was assigned to both a Mediterranean cruise on the Saratoga and a WestPac on the Ranger, both aircraft carriers. I joined the Navy because you always have a dry bed and a hot meal, much better from my point of view than the options of the Marines or Army, who have to put up with whatever is available wherever they are. I didn’t fly, but a few of our pilots were shot down over Viet Nam, and we did lose some other squadron members from things that happen on board and close to the ship.
The NPR war song story is there, and the song they discussed as being the first commercially big song was Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction
Some of the videos on it have been updated to cover the Middle East conflicts, so it is still appropriate. One I remember a lot was by Country Joe and the Fish – 123- what are we fighting for?
There were songs that supported the other side; Sgt. Barry Sadler did one that prompted a John Wayne movie
The story said that most people remember War by Edwin Starr
I served, and sorry, but I have to agree with the main subject there: what is it good for? I know there are times that you have to stand up, but there are also times you have to let things slide, either as an individual or a nation. Sorry, I lost friends and didn’t see any gain, any threat to our national security, or any positives out of that.
When I got out of the Navy I ended up back at college in upstate New York, and became friends with a girl that attended Kent State during an interesting time. Fannie was feisty and did not constrain herself when presented with something that she didn’t like. We drove out to Ohio one long weekend for her to show me around the campus, and she showed me where she was standing on the library deck, and pointed out bullet holes in the sculpture nearby. If she hadn’t said she was so far away I would be willing to believe that she was one of those throwing stones that supposedly started it all.
I wasn’t around for that one, I was floating on a big boat. But a lot of us were singing “1 – 2 – 3- “