I belong to a small private Website dedicated to Governor Sarah Palin, http://americawantssarah.ning.com (AWS). In it I am a member of a group named, ‘Brotherhood 2’ (BH2). This group is dedicated to certain topics, one of which is to work for destroying completely any lingering prejudice against Vietnam Vets. The question has arisen, ‘Is this possible’? I think it is, but not particularly and not in isolation. The destruction can be accomplished if we include it in a movement already occurring in America to change some ugly aspects of our country, restoring her to her former greatness. Most of us in sites like AWS concentrate on political and governmental alterations that are needed. With many of these I agree. But there are cultural changes that are necessary as well. My list follows of the worst of these in my view. I am certain the reader will be able to add many more from his or her list. 1.) Education. I want our children to be able to read, write, calculate, think, and have basic knowledge when they leave school. The situation right now is dire. Let me give you an example. For a while I had a side job of performing physical examinations of people applying for New York State disability. Within weeks two almost identical men came to me for this. The following conversation was had with each, both 18 year old white males. Here is how it went: Why are you here? What is your disability? Cannot read. Have you been in school? Yes. High school? Yes. Did you graduate? Yes. Was it an academic high school? Yes. Did you get a diploma? Yes. Did the school know you could not read? Yes. And they gave you a diploma anyway? Yes. And now you want disability for life because of this, that you cannot read? Yes. Get out of my office right now. Go to a bookstore and buy a book on teaching yourself to read. You should be ashamed of yourself. Disability denied. 2.) Religion. In my faith (Episcopalian) a Presiding Bishop (Head of the USA Church) was recently ordained. In her ordination address she spoke at length of feeding people. She made few mentions of Jesus, God, or religion. My reaction to this speech was: Your Grace, I thought McDonalds did a pretty good job feeding people. I do not see it able to lead church services on Sunday, however. What about the church? 3.) Music. Rap is not music. Punk rock is not music. In concert hall various plunking randomly of keys on a piano with thumbtacks stuck into the strings is not music. Are you kidding me? 4.) Art. A Crucifix stuck in a bottle of urine is not art. Smearing pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary with feces is not art. These ‘artistic expressions’ should be dumped in a garbage can, not displayed prominently in museums, especially those funded by the public. 5.) Architecture. Buildings that are giant Wheaties boxes without the printing are boring. Do architects get paid for this lack of talented expression? Why?
Many Americans want these cultural horrors and others changed along with the political alterations advocated by Governor Palin and leaders like her.
But there is an intermediate area between politics and art where bad things need rectifying as well. In my view, chief among them is our attitude towards our service men and women who fought in the Vietnam War. What we did to theseVets was a national sin, a national disgrace. The country has already intuited this because it is treating those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan with the respect and honor they deserve.
This movement of changing America back to its magnificent self is slow but real. Witness the prominence of Governor Palin and Representative Bachmann, the sites like AWS, the groups like BH2. But the movement cannot just go forward. It has to regress to rectify the abhorrent treatment of the Vietnam Vets that they experienced when they came home. They were spat upon (literally), derided, mocked, employment was denied them. In every possible way they were abused. Some had their lives darkened forever because of this national rage. So the movement will have to do what it can to erase this mistreatment and treat the damage done to these warriors. Some of us are forming a group tentatively named, ‘Asking Forgiveness’. Asking Forgiveness of the Vets for the obloquy heaped on them. I believe we can work at this plea for forgiveness as part of the movement to restore America to its former greatness. Whether in this new group, Asking Forgiveness, or simply in day-to-day utterances of us all we can start the process. As in obtaining forgiveness of any sin on a personal level, I must be sorry for what I did, I must restore what I destroyed to the best of ability, I must seriously try not to repeat the sin in the future. I believe America must follow these admonitions in asking forgiveness of the Vietnam Vets. The country is already following the third one, as witnessed by our treatment of the veterans from recent wars, as I pointed out. Now we have to go back to admonitions one and two: Experience sorrow, and treat the wounds the country has caused. Like the movement in which this religious experience is embedded movement will be slow towards accomplishing the cleansing of the terrible besmirching that was heaped on these people. But it can be accomplished: We can once and for all destroy any lingering prejudice against Vietnam Vets. Both they and we will be purified when we do.