Monday, February 21, 2011

the war years part 2

most students, especially most of the males had this feeling of, "for what?" In other words, as soon as I graduate, I am no longer a full time student and my "number" is up.  Most college kids today start pumping out the resumes looking to be hired after their senior year.  Not so back then.  Unless you had some sort of disability, you were not going to work; you were going to war.  Yes, there are a lot of differences between Viet Nam and Iraq.  Iraq was a volunteer army and we went to Iraq to win, even though the Iraqi who reported WMD's said he lied.  We were allowed to win, none of this "you can only engage the enemy so far.
During my college years, no one my age trusted anyone over thirty-and I can see why as I look back today-they had complete control over our futures. As I look back at all the peace movements, I tend to agree with them.  Sure, you had those in it just for the sex and drugs, but most students really wanted peace and for the war to end.  It was an amazing sight to see the 100's of thousands at the Washington Monument.
When you come down to the bottom line, we just wanted control over our own destinies and not the politicians in Washington determining who was to live or die.  Kids I went to high school and college who I never saw again.  Again, you had to be there and live it to understand it; and the few "adults" who were for peace-the Kennedy's, King, eliminated.  Being the college photographer, I was privy to hear all the lectures and musical groups.  The biggest fruit cake was Timothy Leary, the lsd guru-better living through chemistry.  I intentionally made his photo with large all white eyes.  Some of the students were in it for the excitement; others wanted to go to war; but most just wanted to live and be a college student-and the majority who protested were sincere as they had candle light vigils at night in front of the draft board, reading off the names of the dead that day or from the town.  It was a terrible feeling not knowing if you were going to have a tomorrow or be dead in 3 months.  You had to be there and feel it otherwise you just cannot comprehend the atmosphere.  Side note: the second semester of my freshman year (before I really started feeling the futility of everything controlled by the war, I signed up for Army R.O.T.C.  I figured if I had to go, I would go as an officer-second lieutenant.  When I called my dad and told him(he was a gunner's mate in the Navy) he said,"You dummy! They shoot them (officer's ) first!-aim for those metal officer bars on the hat and uniform.  I guess the enemy felt if they they got rid of the platoon leader the whole group would fall apart.  In any case, after one semester of playing soldier boy, I had enough and quit before I had to make a commitment. It just wasn't the life for me. There were those who REALLY gun-ho and looked forward to the day they were shipped out.  Besides, with my short arm, none of my uniforms fit and I could not hold a rifle correctly since the stock was to long for me. But as the college photographer, I was asked by the student Army and the regular Army leaders, to go with them to Painesville, OH.  This was the nuke center that was to guard Cleveland and Pittsburgh, etc.  All the radar and tracking was in trucks-in case they were about to be bombed, they could move out of the way and still counter attack. And it was neat how they opened the underground silo's and raise the rocket's with nuclear warheads.  I took a lot of pics.  Which were all ruined-when you walk through the gate your entire body is x-rayed for an I.D. since every skeleton is different.(They didn't tell me this as I would have lined my case with lead.  Also, our "tour" guide never left my side that had my camera case.  Bottom line: radiation destroys camera film! I suppose today in the digital age, camera or picture taking stuff stays outside the gate.

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