Wednesday, April 30, 2008

33 years

fall of saigon - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Photo by Hubert Van Es for The New York Times.

Vane Es wrote about the image:

Thirty years ago I was fortunate enough to take a photograph that has become perhaps the most recognizable image of the fall of Saigon - you know it, the one that is always described as showing an American helicopter evacuating people from the roof of the United States Embassy. Well, like so many things about the Vietnam War, it's not exactly what it seems. In fact, the photo is not of the embassy at all; the helicopter was actually on the roof of an apartment building in downtown Saigon where senior Central Intelligence Agency employees were housed.

I was working at a university newspaper when this happened and that day has always been important to me.

At the bookstore, tonight, we showed Hearts and Minds, an Academy-award winning documentary about the war in Vietnam. I had not seen this film before, even though I had lots of chances. Today I watched it with several veterans of many U.S. wars (one from WW II, one from Korea, four from Vietnam, one from Gulf War 1). It still affects me. I have a life-long hatred of General Westmoreland who was famous for lines like this:

"The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does a Westerner. Life is plentiful. Life is cheap in the Orient."

And important lesson to be learned: even with the draft and all those dead and wounded soldiers, even with the nightly news full of gruesome photos of death and devastation, a surprising number of U.S. citizens were blissfully unaware of the war and could carry on their lives without a clue as to what was going on half a world away. Sound familiar?

2 comments:

belledame222 said...

depressingly so. le sigh.

Daisy said...

Such a horrible waste. Looking at that photo, I just cry, even to this day. What was accomplished in that military adventure? Not a motherfucking thing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. And the McCains of the world still justify the intervention.

I blogged about May 4th today and sobbed like I did when it first happened. Largely because of your memory-piece here, I found myself using some pretty strong language, such as criminally insane. What else can you say about liars and murderers who deliberately manipulate the American people?

Love ya, Raven... and hey, thanks for making me jazz up what I had written. I know I can always count on you!