Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Forty Years Ago: The Left Partied While Saigon Fell

Forty Years Ago: The Left Partied While Saigon Fell
Just two years prior, Henry Kissinger had negotiated the Paris Peace Accords which essentially solidified everything that the United States had been fighting for. North Vietnam agreed to accept South Vietnam’s existence while the United States promised to return if Hanoi did not honor the deal. It was an agreement both sides were destined to break.

While brave military men cried and those loyal to the Republic of Vietnam were killed or deported to “reeducation camps,” the mood here at home was starkly different. Among certain segments of the population it could only be described as elation.
On May 11th fifty thousand jubilant revelers staged a celebration in New York’s Central Park. One reporter described it as a “joyous all-day carnival of songs and speeches in the perfect sunshine.” One person in attendance told a reporter: “There’s a lot of lumps in a lot of throats. It’s unbelievable. Today is the first day I finally realize the war is over.”

“Over” was such a strange word. For Americans, the war had already been over for two years, when the last combat troops left Vietnam. But that was not enough for the most strident activists who would not rest until the country we had bled so much to protect was washed away like a sand castle on the beach. ....

But for the South Vietnamese the war wasn’t really over even on April 30th. Their war had just begun, as they were murdered, tortured, and sent to the regime’s 150 “reeducation camps” to be indoctrinated in the virtues of Marxism-Leninism. Some people didn’t emerge from those camps for seventeen years, and 165,000 never left at all. (link)

My comment: I served in Vietnam in 1968-1969 and still think the Vietnam war was a noble and just cause. I remember watching on TV while Saigon fell in 1975 and I cried. I still feel like America and the ally we were protecting were stabbed in the back by "peace" activist at home. The war was winnable and our betrayal of South Vietnam was shameful. Unfortunately, our leaders were never committed to winning the war. Every time we were gaining an advantage, we would stop and pursue a negotiated settlement and let the enemy recover.
While I have, for the most part, gotten over that phase of history and put that phase of my life as a young man behind me, I still feel anger at those who betrayed us. I still do not think those who fled to Canada should have ever been allowed to return home without paying a severe penalty. I would still have a good day if a deranged Vietnam vet assassinated Jane Fonda. I still do not think the peace sign is just a hip symbol of the cool 60's or a fashion accessory; it is the banner under which those who wanted a Communist victory marched. I still resent portrayals of that period which assume everyone was getting high and it was a fun time to engage in a little harmless revolution at home.
The war was not lost in the delta and jungle of Vietnam but was lost on college campuses and the streets of America. The betrayal of South Vietnam and the betrayal of those who served in Vietnam is a still a disgrace and a blot on our nation's honor.

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