Saturday, April 30, 2005

Thirty years later and Vietnam still haunts


Chopper in Vietnam
Originally uploaded by Brite Lights photos.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - I use the analogy all the time - that I feel like the last man to get on the helicopter leaving the rooftop of the American Embassy in Saigon in 1975.

Maybe it's because I didn't serve in the war and maybe it's because the news images of that day are burned in my brain. I searched for a photo of that - the Vietnamese clinging to the rails of the chopper hoping to escape as it pulled off the roof. But I couldn't find it.

I did get to review a lot of grisly photos of the war, and some almost artistic shots like this helicopter blasting people from the sky.

I knew a few people who died in the war, but my close friends all - like me - were able to avoid it either through joining the Navy, failing the physical or just dumb luck. I dropped out of college in 1968 and was 1A status for over a year and didn't get called. Some angel was sitting on my shoulder.

One amigo refused induction and won the legal argument.

Today the U.S. is full of Vietnamese restaurants, we buy shoes made in Hanoi and Vietnamese and Hmong children are so numerous in California schools that you can get a job teacher without a credential if you can speak the language.

I wonder if we will ever be able to say the same things about Iraq?

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