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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Vietnam

Vietnam fell to the Communists 40 years ago, on this day, and the war was over.

Even though I was just entering my teenage years, I vividly remember the images on the network morning news-- helicopters being dumped into the ocean, the evacuation from the American embassy, people lined up on the roof, desperate to get out.

I was a news junkie, even as a kid.  I can still see Walter Cronkite giving the U.S. and Vietcong death totals every night at 6:30.  I can still see Kissinger and Nixon pushing for peace with dignity and getting us out of there.

As I've noted before, it was a great time to grow up-- the space program, trips to the moon, diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and China, places we'd never seen before, mystery lands.

Yet, that Vietnam cloud was always there.   Always on the horizon.  The protests ripped apart our cities and divided our country.  We all wanted out.  We couldn't agree on how to do it.

Eisenhower and Kennedy got us in.  Johnson got us in even deeper.  There are some who believe Vietnam wouldn't have happened if JFK had lived.  We'll never know.

To this day, just the word Vietnam means awful things.  Like, let's not make (name of conflict here) another Vietnam.

The word is still on our lips, in our memories, and in our hearts.  I hope we've learned something,