How Will Children Learn to Commemorate Memorial Day? By Attending A Ceremony or Defacing a Monument?
The above screenshot is from a reader responding to a WSJ commentary from a Vietnam veteran in Gurney. Tiny. Pig Pen. I Remember Them All….What if Jimmy from Georgia hadn’t been killed? And we’d all danced at his wedding instead?
In 1968 I was 18 years old, broke, flunking out of school and my girlfriend was pregnant. Then I joined the Marine Corps and went to Vietnam.
When a rocket hit the mess hall, half full of young Marines, I was about 200 yards away. I saw it pass overhead, long and white, and heard the explosion. I had only been in country a few days and knew no one. Some of the boys were placed in body bags and trucked out, as I recall.
Now I’m old and beat up, moving toward another Memorial Day. I’m thinking about the Marines I did know and wondering what their lives would have been like if they had survived.
…..One night our squad was set in a village overlooking a graveyard, when we were attacked. Corporal Swan ran shirtless outside of a grass hut and took one round through the heart. I heard him say, “Oh my God,” as he fell. If he had lived, would he have come home damaged inside, the way some did and still do? I won’t imagine that.
These are all real young men I lived with and fought with and think of on Memorial Day. When the picnics are over and the beer has stopped flowing and the flags have been picked up at all the graveyards, memory brings them back to life. They sweep into my dreams or visit when I’m walking in the woods with Gurney.
Read the entire commentary by Jack Estes and his tribute to those Marines who died in Vietnam. Read the comments from the readers and many of their recollections about war.
We know not all the deaths related to Vietnam occurred on the battlefield. As one reader stated:
Did you see the most recent defacing of Vietnam Walls occurring in California, Kentucky and Virginia?
Visit this site for more graphics (above is from the AP) and the report of a driver driving over veterans’ crosses: mysanantonio.com
War is never wished by any mother for her sons or daughters and many wars, such as Vietnam, were never meant to be won. Former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara admitted this late in his life (the “unwinnable” strategy he concocted and failed to adjust during the first four years of war) in his biography and former Democrat Senator Jim Webb notes the anti-war contingency also supported this goal. From Robert McNamara, the Anti-War Left, & the Triumph of Intellectual Dishonesty:
The Anti-War Left: Hoping for a Communist Victory
The reason, which remained either unspoken or unreported during the anniversary coverage, was stated most honestly and directly to me by George McGovern, who unfortunately was off-camera at the time. During a break while taping the CNN Crossfire show, after I had made a comment regarding the ability of the U.S. under the right leadership to have adjusted its strategy early on and prevailed in the war, the antiwar candidate who had once promised to go to Hanoi on his knees if he were elected President turned to me and announced in his emotionless monotone, “What you don’t understand is that I didn’t want us to win that war.”
The people who directed the antiwar movement did not care whether McNamara had a workable strategy, or whether it could have been adapted to circumstances. They did not care whether Nixon’s Vietnamization program might have worked. They did not care whether the South Vietnamese should have been given an adequate chance to adjust their strategy after the American withdrawal. And they did not care whether the communists signed a pledge guaranteeing free elections and a peaceful reunification of the country. Quite simply, they wanted the communists to win. Those who were adults during the Vietnam era know this truth full well. Others, however, particularly our children, have seen it glazed over and even denied as the reality of what happened after 1975 became ever more clear.
The failure of the media to show these old luminaries and their younger disciples in this true light is important for reasons beyond anger, finger-pointing and the assignment of blame. Only by understanding their deeper motivations can future generations comprehend the making and ultimate failure of American policy during that period, and the subsequent refusal of our media elites to speak and write honestly after South Vietnam’s fall.
Only by comprehending that Vietnam was the first war where a generation’s elite not only excused itself from fighting but often openly supported the side that was killing their own countrymen can we understand the persistent defamation of those who served. And only by comprehending that the antiwar movement’s dilatory effect was Hanoi’s greatest ace in the hole can we understand why the communists had few reasons ever to compromise at the negotiating table.
These are lessons whose omissions from the debate cannot help but affect one’s view of the honesty of history as an academic discipline. They have vital implications for the study of policymaking. And they tell us of the divisions that still exist in our society, not only when it comes to discussing the national trauma of Vietnam but in the increasingly visible emergence of the United States as a country whose cultural institutions are dominated by a veneer of protected elites.
On this Memorial Day 2016, take your children to a Memorial Day service. Visit a military graveyard. Honor those who weren’t the protected elites and were not shielded from the misguided purposes of the elites. The elites running the wars and Common Core are not so different. What is appropriate for the masses excludes the war planners and education reformers. Read how the blueprint from the first war where a generation’s elite not only excused itself from fighting but often openly supported the side that was killing their own countrymen was adopted in the war for public education. From How Public Education Got “Robert McNamara’d Into Submission” by the Elites/Intellectuals:
Neither Conservative Thomas Sowell or Liberal Mark Naison are happy with governmental control and the plan of the elites.
“The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good.”
Writes Thomas Sowell, in a column called “On Christmas, Liberals Are By No Means Liberal.”
After watching a documentary about the tragic story of Jonestown, I was struck by the utterly unthinking way that so many people put themselves completely at the mercy of a glib and warped man, who led them to degradation and destruction. And I could not help thinking of the parallel with the way we put a glib and warped man in the White House.
Wow. That’s harsh.
Here‘s the documentary about Jonestown. And here‘s Sowell’s excellent book “Intellectuals and Society.”
What caught my attention was Sowell’s phrase “replacing what works with what sounds good”. Common Core Standards immediately came to mind. Education reform wants to dismantle the 93% of Missouri school districts that were performing well so they can all be “common”. These standards may sound good…but why are we implementing standards that are unproven, untested and unfunded for those districts testing well?
One of the reasons why CCSS is important to implement might be so the definition of what is historically important can be decided by private consortia. (The history standards are currently under construction). If your student doesn’t know who Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy were, then he/she doesn’t have the capability of linking of these mens’ roles in the Kennedy/LBJ administrations’ Vietnam War strategy to the roles of the elites in supporting Teach For America. Liberal Mark Naison chimes in on the educational aspect of elitism and his apprisal of TFA, the “elite” cadre of teachers funded primarily by private corporations:
Increasingly, the leaders of Teach for America remind me of the Ivy League efficiency experts who brought us the Vietnam War, a war their children never fought in, just as the schools that TFA corps members are sent into, or the charter schools they found, are ones their own children would never attend. Here’s why: ********Robert McNamara, in the summer of 1965, recommended that the US send hundreds of thousands of ground troops into Vietnam, knowing that they could at best produce a stalemate, knowing that 10,000 American soldiers would be killed per year, to help protect its reputation as a “guarantor” of nations facing Communist aggression. However, would he have made that recommendation if he had know that his own son could have been one of those killed? Similarly, TFA leaders would never send their children to a school where the bulk of teachers have 5 or 6 weeks training and would be even less likely to send them to a school like KIPP where students spend an hour looking at the wall if they are disrespectful in class. ********Policies which claim to be in the “public interest” that only affect other people’s children and affirm race and class privilege, should be subject to the most careful kind of scrutiny. And that goes for the alternative certification route to teaching that only affects schools in poor neighborhoods, or hyper-segregated charter schools which promulgate a “no excuses philosophy” and implement a prison like discipline.
Sowell and Naison agree on one issue: the intellectuals/efficiency experts are cut from the same cloth and cross political affiliations to control the lower class and maintain power. The takeover programs of education (Race to the Top, Common Core State Standards, Teach for America) are driven by a small number of private individuals/corporations propped up by public officials using taxpayer money without any taxpayer input and/or little legislative action. Whether or not you agree with the goals of these programs, many of these are mandates that have not borne the test of voter approval, even as taxpayer money is being used for implementation.
Say prayers for all the soldiers who gave their lives in service who were killed in a war designed by the elites without elite battlefield participation. Take action so that our children can survive the educational war designed by elites in which those choice architects don’t send their own children. When the study of policymaking is undertaken (if ever) and the honesty of history is finally acknowledged, what lessons will be learned from the educational war? We know the lessons of Vietnam. It was costly (in terms of money and lives) and needless. Do those lessons extend to non-military elitist plans?