Episode Eight | The Vietnam War

I was channel surfing earlier this afternoon and stumbled across Ken Burns’ Ep 8 of his Vietnam War series on a local PBS channel.

And while I have seen the series through a couple times and have spent 45+ years studying and researching this era, the scenes in this documentary and the sounds and the music never fail to bring me to tears.

I remember this era well, even though I was a bit too young to participate fully. I remember my older brother and his friends being nervous and worried about these events (’68-’69). I remember watching Cronkite on the evening news with my parents and my brother. I remember the scenes of the fighting (America’s 1st televised war). I remember the fear, anger, sorrow.

I remember it all. Do you? Those of you who were the members of this truly fucked (and maybe a bit blessed) generation (b. ’45 – ’55 or so)…


I’m pretty sure you do. It’s a difficult thing to forget. I’ve studied this era so deeply over the decades because it has always amazed me how it came about, what transpired, how poorly the U.S. dealt with this. Even after all this time, it still completely astounds me how this happened.

And sadly, I continue to see these same mistakes being made by my country over the years since this time. I still see young men and women going to places thousands of miles from home to fight and kill and die… for what? For noble causes? To protect our allies? Because we were attacked in our own country? I don’t think so.

Look around you today… right this minute and ask yourself:

Is it any different now? Have we made any progress? Or is it just same shit – different day/era? When are we going to finally wake up and realize that this is all such BULLSHIT? Of course, being a student of military history, which basically means human history, I can’t see any improvements other than those which have provided the means to bullshit the masses with more ease and kill the “enemies” with more precision and effect.

It’s a sad fuckin’ state of affairs, folks. It really is.

/rant off

Four dead in Ohio ~Neil Young – Ohio

About V. T. Eric Layton

vtel57, Nocturnal Slacker

4 responses »

  1. Eric, you have studied and read about that war in depth. I have not. I have not watched any documentaries. I have a number of “want to read books” that you have recommended.

    I would like to make the following observations that were prevalent in the “hippy” and SDS newsletters and in some mainstream news media of the mid-1960s.

    Capitalism – U.S. foreign intervention – 200 years of extensive intervention/s in the affairs of other countries. Among those, many were as questionable as propping up cheap bananas for United Fruit Growers. Even a private citizen (Hurst) allegedly started the Spanish-American war in order to sell newspapers.

    Domino theory – On the nobler side of pros was the U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Domino theory. If one country in an area goes communist, the adjoining countries will also. This was the most prevalent justification embraced by the populace too old to be drafted. And “patriotic” politicians.

    Oil Reserves -Prior to the war it was known that there were extensive offshore oil deposits. “Vietnam is currently the third-largest holder of crude oil reserves in Asia, behind China and India.)(Wikipedia)

    John F. Kennedy and Catholicism – Vietnam has the fifth largest Catholic population in Asia. (Wikipedia)

    I agree with Theories of US Involvement in the Vietnam War by Laina Galayde”
    “In conclusion, although economic, social, and political justifications have been touted for the United States’ entanglement in the Vietnam War, with time, most of these have been proven invalid. As in most instances, hindsight is 20/20.”

    I served 1967 to 1971 in Army administration. I did not believe in the war although that may have been more the desire not to die as anything else. At that time I questioned the war obsessively.

    I think that entering a war that the French Commandos could not win was ignorant and arrogant..
    The use of agent orange was criminal.
    The lies about the numbers of deaths on both sides and the progress of the war by General Westmoreland and Secretary of Defense McNamara to Congress, the President/s, the public, were criminal.

    The “enemies” did not play nice, abide by the Geneva Conventions, or necessarily be in the right. With Russia and China involved there is plenty of blame to go around.

    AND: Why does Congress continue to allow the Executive Branch, as in President, to continue to declare CONFLICTS which are WARS? The ignorance of the American populace to the separation of powers is really scary and does not bode well for the future of our country as the Democratic Republic
    BACK to your original question. We have Woke people. Hawks. Those who are apathetic.
    In the REAL world, there are no simple solutions. There are more bad rulers of countries and combative religions and ideologies than there are good.
    We human beings are a mess.

    • Damn, Terry! Your reply above is excellent and covers MANY of the things I know about and agree with you on. Three things are facts for sure…

      – We human beings are a mess.
      – Religion and $$$ kill a HELLUVA lot of people in this world.
      – War is rare the noble thing that the propagandists sing about.

      War is HELL. It’s DEATH. It’s Destruction and Mayhem. It’s rarely, if ever, for noble causes.

      I respect and commend you for your service during that era. I also highly respect that fact that you were smart enough to realize that what was going on over there on the other side of the world was not a good thing.

      Take care and STAY HEALTHY, brother!


  2. I just watched the video 4 Dead in Ohio. I have a much different “take” but that’s another story.

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