The War that Won’t Go Away – John Gregory Dunne (September 1986)

“Memorial Day, 1986. Laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, President Ronald Reagan paid special attention, in his remarks, to ‘the boys of Vietnam…who fought a terrible and vicious war without enough support from home…. They chose to be faithful. They chose to reject the fashionable skepticism of their time. They chose to believe and answer the call of duty.’ Ronald Reagan was adopting for his own ends one of the enduring conservative myths of the Vietnam War, that never were so many betrayed by so few. It has become a commonplace in the conservative canon to compare the combat hardships endured by the troops in the line with the cowardice of the military deserters in the field and the draft resisters at home. The truth is more ambiguous. … Of that number, there were 570,000 apparent draft evaders. Another 15,410,000—or 57.5 percent—were ‘deferred, exempted, or disqualified,’ one of whom, on medical grounds, was Ronald Reagan’s eldest son. Class was always the domestic issue during the Vietnam War, not communism. At the peak of the conflict, draftees were getting killed at twice the rate of enlistees, with the result that avoiding the draft became the preoccupation of an entire male generation, or at least that part of it which had the means and the wit to manipulate the Selective Service system to its advantage. … When the potential draftees finally reported for their preinduction physicals, approximately half were rejected, which was two to three times the rejection rate for the NATO allies. There was, among those with sufficient motivation, a virtual pandemic of asthma, bad backs, trick knees, flat feet, and skin rashes. Hawks who would later describe the war as a noble cause were no more immune to this scourge than doves; Patrick Buchanan had a bad knee, Elliott Abrams a bad back, Congressman Vin Weber asthma. …”
W – John Gregory Dunne

Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne, Trancas, California, March 1972

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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