Friday, July 1, 2016

'69 Seasons Feedback from a Veteran

Dear Serena,

My friend and fellow Vietnam vet Dennis Rogers shared  ’69 Seasons with me. Looking at it all brought back vivid memories of that chaotic time, both while in Vietnam and at home.  I was a college student who was trying to evade the draft and the horror of going to Vietnam, but I failed, at long last, and was drafted and sent there.  I chose to serve, in the end.  I was lucky be rearguard, not on the river boats, as I had been trained in California, but still I saw enough. 

The images and songs, slogans and famous people from the music world, pacifists and militant groups were all over the news and marketed in stores (head shops), so all that you showed is familiar to me.  Much of it was to escape. 

This play does illustrate well the confusion and mental strain of the war time, and of the earnest attempt by the young to question the essential truths of how we should organize to live, and to treat each other.  Nixon is well portrayed as the man upholding the prestige of the nation, mindlessly paid for by the unsung heroes who went to Nam and died or were harmed there, along with their families, who were fateful to the call, not necessarily in agreement or even understanding the reasons for our being in Vietnam.

It was good to protest, or good to serve.  If we were drafted, serving was even more creditable.  These choices were often stoically borne by the common man or woman, not those privileged to protest or evade the draft.  The evil was from those who took advantage of the chaos, either on the streets or in the high rungs of government, to advance their own agenda, not that of society as a whole. 

The play shows the chaos, horror and self-examination of the era, but not so much of the courage of the everyday person, who tried to serve, but serve honorably, who demonstrated, but did so peacefully, and those who governed, but who did did so to end the war by the law.  But the play does clearly show the social turmoil of those days, of the cries for justice, for love, and the contradictions between the government voice for war and the people's plea for peace.  Of course, most people over thirty years of age, Nixon's "silent majority" supported the war in full.  Plenty of "chicken hawks," even back then. 

And, to end my long critique, the songs were great, both stimulating and soothing, powered by those most interesting times.  I listened to both rock and Motown, as did many of my black fellow soldiers. As long as we heard a voice from home, we could all go both ways as far as music went.

Thanks, What you're doing is valuable.  Vets are all over the place in terms of how they cope, or what they think of the war.  Remembering them at all is a very good starting off point.

-Charles Malone, Raleigh, NC