One of the defining elements to my childhood was the ever-present reports about the Vietnam War. It was, of course, inescapable, even though my family was not directly impacted by it. My dad had already done his bit in WWII -- five long years in the South Pacific -- and everyone else in my extended family was either too young or too old to be sent over. But the controversy and misery surrounding that war was everywhere, like a black cloud ready at any moment to burst into shattering thunder and stabs of lightning. There wasn't a middle ground, it seemed. You were either appalled by the carnage and hopelessness of the outcome or felt that Vietnam could not ever be allowed to fall to the Communists, lest we all become usurped by that evil idealogical monster.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
There were many songs protesting the Vietnam War. The Baby Boomers and the rapidly-expanding power of rock n' roll saw to that. But there were pro-war, pro-military songs as well. Sometimes, they came from the South, were strongly country-flavored in style, and relied on the tried-and-true pathos and snare of the story-in-a-song format.
The "soldier letter" was a common lyrical construction, like in Dave Dudley's "What We're Fighting For," and Autry Inman's unintentionally-hilarious "Ballad of Two Brothers."
Now, Victor Lundberg also used the letter format, this time in "An Open Letter To My Son." Holy crap. Dad Victor was definitely taking a page from the Joe Friday "Dragnet" philosophy. Settle down, Victor! Have another martini already. (Note that Lundberg and Inman pilfer "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Must've been public domain, eh.)
My-Lai Massacre poster boy Lt. William Calley even got a song supporting his rape-y baby-murder spree. In 2009, he said he was "very sorry." Oh...thanks, man. The battle hymn...again.
The Spokesmen decided aping Barry McGuire's smash "Eve of Destruction" with their "Dawn Of Correction" was the way to fortune and fame. I think they probably all ended up as high school principals.
I guess maybe something everyone should be able to agree upon is that all wars are tragedies, and that innocent people suffer greatly, both civilians and soldiers alike, from the greed and hatred of those in power who cannot find humane ways of dealing with differences. There were thousands of soldiers trying to do what they thought was right in Vietnam...and thousands of protestors back in the States trying to do what they thought was right.
Imagine if there had been no Vietnam War at all.