Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
The Viet Nam Generation Big Book
Volume 5 Number 1-4
This text, made available by the Sixties Project, is copyright (c) 1996 by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., or the author, all rights reserved. This text may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. This text may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is a collective of humanities scholars working together on the Internet to use electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.
We received an announcement for the Veteran's Hour, hosted by Tyrone T. Dancy and Jesse Merrill. Veteran's Hour airs the first Saturday of every month, from 18:00-19:00, on WDAS-AM radio, Station 1480. Various topic and issues regarding veterans are discussed. Information is provided on veteran entitlements, benefits, legislation, and how they impact on veterans and their dependents. Veteran groups, organizations or Veteran Service Representatives are invited to make arrangements to come on the program to convey information on veteran issues, services, functions, or legislative matters. Veteran's Hour, PO Box 18492, Philadelphia, PA 19150.
Letter from Steven Geiger
First I would like to say I'm happy to be a new subscriber, but I must comment on your editorial policy announced in the Spring issue: that being the use of the term "Viets" to describe the Vietnamese people. The title of your publication reflects the older perhaps somewhat more cumbersome "Viet Nam." I have felt that it is Western "efficiency" that resulted in the disservice of joining the two words and losing the flow of the meaning of their history. This construction literally (destructs) removes the people from the land and substitutes one word for both the territory and people. What will happen to the people?
Perhaps it is an unfair comparison because we have no real cultural heritage of our own or simply because "American" doesn't stand for a single ethnic group, or because of so many American transgressions that I cannot judge objectively), but "Americans" as a single term for a people from the United States is sterile and at best no comparison to a term like Vietnamese that includes an ethnic people with a rich and beautiful heritage.
You say that you are basing this decision on the Vietnamese term, and their politeness hasn't allowed them to correct our error. This seems like adequate justification. Nevertheless, your readership is Western and to my Western eye Viets smacks of a diminution of a much more expressive word, "Vietnamese." Ironically, you also mention the reason we have not been corrected by the Vietnamese is their opinion of Western intelligence. If this is true, I would suggest the usage of "Viets" is damaging because to the Western eye it is painfully close to Western racist slang for another Asian people-- "Japs," and I'm sure they recognize any approximation of that term as unfortunate and to be avoided. I would not presume to translate for the Vietnamese but for that similarity alone, even if it is grammatically correct, we should seek their advice in finding another word. I fear "Viets" would be usurped as a racist term and we have far too many already.
Perhaps it is my guilt as a veteran that I need further reassurance, but I would like to see further discussion from Vietnamese ("Viet," if you like) linguists and writers, before we Westerners take further spontaneous liberties with the culture of the people of Viet Nam. We've done enough already.
Sincerely, Steven E. Geiger, 100 Overlook Terr., #513, New York, NY 10040.
Viet Nam Generation poets read at The Blue Door
Leroy V. Quintana and Maggie Jaffe did a reading at San Diego's Blue Door Bookstore on February 10th. We published Quintana's Interrogations and Jaffe's Continuous Performance in 1992.
The Indochina Project, a program of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, in cooperation with Vietnam's Ministry of Culture takes pleasure in introducing fine art images from Vietnam. The publication of our catalog marks the debut of modern Vietnamese fine art in the American greeting card market. The twelve scenes depict contemporary life in Vietnam's rural villages and cities, in a variety of styles and techniques, as scene through the eyes of Vietnamese artists. The Indochina Project is publishing these works as part of its ongoing effort to promote cooperation and understanding between the peoples of the United States and Vietnam. Cards measure 4 1/2 " x 6 1/4" and are printed on recycled paper and come with recycled paper envelopes. Cards are only available in sets of twelve-- one of each image in the catalog. Two T-shirts are also available. These cards are a great fund-raising resource and are being offered at wholesale rates to interested organizations. Custom printing of cards and T-shirts can be arranged for all the images in the catalog. Contact the Indochina Project for details. Proceeds from the sale of these cards and T-shirts help support the Indochina Project's humanitarian assistance programs and cultural exchanges with Vietnam and Cambodia. Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation is a nonprofit, publicly supported organization which derives its support from grants and donations. According to the IRS, when you purchase items from a tax-exempt organization you may deduct as a contribution that part which is over and above the cost of production and shipping. For these Vietnamese cards and T-shirts you may deduct half the cost of your order. For more info
rmation about our programs please contact: Indochina Project, 2001 "S" St., NW, Suite 740, Washington, DC 20009; 202/483-9222; FAX: 202/483-9314.
Larry Rottmann's Voices from the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Got a couple of news releases announcing first a show of photographs and second, a new book, both put together by Larry Rottmann. The exhibit contains more than 250 black-and- white photographs taken by two Viet Nam war veterans from opposing sides, and was displayed November 2-11 at Southwest Missouri State University. It is scheduled for showings in Columbia, MO; Chicago, and Ha Noi. "Images of Viet Nam: Photographs from the Ho Chi Minh Trail, 1966-1922" is by Nguyen Trong Thanh, a photo artist and editor for Vietnam Pictorial in Ha Noi, and Larry Rottmann, director of the Southeast Asia-Ozark Project and Viet Nam literature teacher at SMSU. Thanh's photographs feature both battlefield and behind-the-lines activities of the Vietnamese military and civilian workers along the Troung Son Strategic Supply Route (the Ho Chi Minh Trail) during the war. Additionally, photographs from contemporary Viet Nam, taken by Rottmann during eight visits to Viet Nam since 1985, were shown. Many of these pictures feature Ho Chi Minh Trail veterans, both civilian and military, representative of the dozens of such folks interviewed by Rottmann, who served with the 25th Infantry Division in Viet Nam in 1967-1968. Thanh's photos are individually captioned by the photographer, while Rottmann's pictures are often accompanied by poems describing the people and their stories. None of Thanh's and few of the Rottmann photos have ever been displayed publicly before. The book, which is called Voices from the Ho Chi Minh Trail (Event Horizon Press, 1993) is the first complete collection of Larry Rottmann's poetry. Written over a period of twenty-seven years, these poems and accompanying photographs reflect an increasing awareness of the effect of the war upon the peoples both of the U.S. and Viet Nam.
Home of the Brave
A press release passed to us via David DeRose: Home of the Brave, a stage presentation performed by and based upon writings by Viet Nam veterans, has been made available on video cassette by the Home of the Brave Foundation. Originally created for presentation in high schools and colleges, the piece consists of over two dozen poems, letters, and personal memoirs collected from over thirty Viet Nam veterans nationwide. The core company of five Viet Nam combat veterans, accompanied by wives and others, perform the collage of writings. The VHS cassette is roughly two hours long and is available for purchase through the Home of the Brave Foundation ( a nonprofit organization), 6303 South Rural Road #3, Tempe, AZ 85283, or 602/820-3451, att: Trish Kinney; price $20.
Desert Storm Poetry
Desert Storm: A Brief History, by Lenard D. Moore, from Los Hombres Press, Box 632729, San Diego, CA 92163-2729 perfect bound, 59 pages, black and white drawing of head of black or Hispanic U.S. troop, sweating under a helmet. The book has one to four haiku on each page, giving moments from Desert Shield and Desert Storm, starting with a Marine on his way out of the country and ending after a soldier's burial back home. It is striking to see poetry devoted to the moment, haiku, used to make a narrative. It is a crafty way to give the reader a fictional memory of a war--by giving him visual moments which embed themselves in a war story that doesn't exist at any particular place in the text. See the different choices D.S. Llliteras made in his book of haiku and war snapshots, In a Warrior's Romance, reported in VG 4:3-4: 21.
Moore is a service veteran, his father a Viet Nam vet and his brother a Gulf War vet. See his poetry in this issue, and in
VG 4:3-4: 77. Some info: Lenard D. Moore, writer in residence for the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, is the author of Forever Home (St. Andrews Press, 1992), Poems for Performance (The Lenard Company, 1989) The Open Eye (North Carolina Haiku Society Press, 1985), and Poems of Love and Understanding (1982). His poems, essays, reviews and memoirs have been published in the United States, England, Nigeria, Italy, Japan, China, Canada, New Zealand, India, and Romania. For reference a sampling of his works can be found in Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary American Haiku (Charles Tuttle Co., Inc. 1993) and The Haiku Anthology (Simon & Schuster, 1986), An Anthology of African-American Poetry (New American Library), In Search of Color Everywhere (Stewart, Tabori & Cahng, Inc.) and Say That the River Turns: The Impact of Gwendolyn Brooks (Third World Press).
Bill Jones and Rod McQueary are the cowboy poets who often write about the consequences of their experiences as U.S. combat infantrymen in Viet Nam. John Dofflemyer is the visionary editor of Dry Crik Review, the cowboy poetry journal which doesn't publish cornballs. "Blood Trails" is the title of a poem by Jon Forrest Glade (in Photographs of the Jungle, Jon Forrest Glade, Chiron Review Press, 1990, contact Michael Hathaway, Rt 2, Box 111, St. John, KS, 67576, now in third and final edition). That poet insists that he is not a cowboy poet even though he was called Cowboy by his squad in Viet Nam and was in fact raised in Wyoming as was almost everyone he has ever been related to. Well, is Kurt Vonnegut a science fiction writer? Of course he is, but he doesn't go to conventions or publish with science fiction houses, so of course he isn't. It's the same with Jon Glade. Now Blood Trails is also the name of a book, a collection of poems by Jones and McQueary, published by Dofflemyer. John Dofflemyer and Bill Jones and Rod McQueary do go to the cowboy poetry Gatherings--they make their living doing that and ranching. They are also among the number of vet poets who point to "Blood Trails" as the best vet poem of that particular war. (Jon Glade favors B.D. Trail's "The Grenading," see VG 4:3-4: 30-1) So they asked Jon if they could use the poem for a frontispiece and title and if he would write an introduction for a collection of Rod and Bill's work that John would publish. It has all worked out handsomely. Order Blood Trails, by Bill Jones and Rod McQueary, Introduction by Jon Forrest Glade, lavish illustrations by David Hall, ca. 88 pp, $12 paper, $45 hardbound with handsome dustjacket, postpaid from Dry Crik Press, PO 44230, Lemon Cove, CA 93244. Dry Crik Review is available from the same address. Dofflemyer asked me to write a blurb for the back cover. Here is what I sent him: These poets will touch your heart because when they sort through their past, they handle the stuff of your dreams. Bill Jones, Jr. and Rod McQueary are cowboys. Jones manages a ranch, and McQueary runs his own. Off the ranch they entertain, telling jokes and singing, reciting their verses at Cowboy Poetry Gatherings, just as other men and women in their line of work ride horses and rope steer for the crowd at rodeos. Many in the audience at the Gatherings are families removed from the land just in the one or two generations since the latest world war, fathers and mothers who were once boys and girls on the farm, who work in factories now. They reach through these poets towards a past life. Bill Jones, Jr. and Rod McQueary are also Viet Nam veterans. They did a man's work in the war on Communism. Once upon a time, each of them was a U.S. Army rifleman who made contact with enemy forces in the Republic of Viet Nam. That's one reason why people stand in line for two and three hours to hear Jones or McQueary recite. A lot of rural working people fought in the U.S. infantry in Viet Nam. Sons and brothers, sisters and daughters, want to hear from a man who is willing to talk. Jones and McQueary are strong, but they aren't silent. Each knows how a turn of phrase can lift the spirit, how the right word can turn a man around on his folly, and how some people pay with their lives for things that sounded good at the time. Bill Jones Jr. and Rod McQueary stand here on the page, cowboys, veterans, poets telling you what it is like to live dreams.
Crandell on Myth
"Viet Nam: The Mythic War" is a lecture presentation by Dr. William F. Crandell sponsored by the 1992-1995 Speakers in the Humanities Program of the New York Council for the Humanities. See Crandell's essay "What Did America Learn From the Winter Soldier Investigation" in the Features section of this issue. The author is a historian and novelist. From the press release: "America's longest and most unresolved war offers unique opportunity to study the making of myth while the historical facts are still available. The speaker selects examples of history-based myths--from the Trojan Wars and the Knights of the Round Table and the Wild West to the films and novels and tall tales of [the American War in] Viet Nam-- and examines the ways in which myth enriches out understanding of what occurred. Dr. Crandell also draws on Joseph Campbell's monomyth from The Hero With a Thousand Faces to demonstrate how the Viet Nam conflict provides the essentials elements for myth-making. The hero comes back changed, to a home that is no longer his or her on. Contact: Dr. William F. Crandell, 4607 Connecticut Ave., NW, #702, Washington, DC 20008.
In the mail from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, some essential reading for diplomatic historians: Cold War International History Project Working Paper #7, September 1993, "Vietnamese Archives and Scholarship on the Cold War Period: Two Reports," by Mark Bradley, Harvard University and Robert K. Brigham, University of Kentucky. Brigham's Report is on "The Archives of Viet Nam and the Indo-China Wars," with chapters on "National Archives," "Libraries, Museums, and Institutes" and "Future of Research." Brigham is a student of George Herring's, completing his dissertation on the foreign relations of the National Liberation Front, a topic that enjoys the distinction of being discounted by conservative elites in Ha Noi and Washington. Mark Bradley's paper is on "Vietnamese Archives and Scholarship in On the Cold War Period: a Report" includes chapters on "Contemporary Vietnamese Research Context," "Archives," "Libraries and Museums," "Major Research Institutes and Scholars," "Vietnamese Cold War Scholarship," "Fiction, History, and Counter-Hegemonic Discourse," "An American in Viet Nam," and "Potential Collaborative Projects on the Cold War." Bradley is a student of Hue Tam Ho Tai's at Harvard, writing a dissertation on "Making Cold War: Viet Nam and the United States, 1941-1955." Both papers were originally presented to the Cold War International History Project's Workshop on [the American War in] Viet Nam held at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. in June 1993.
Bradley and Brigham both report in detail on their experiences working in Vietnamese archives. Another authority on this topic is Judith Henchy, the Southeast Asia curator at the University of Washington Library. If you're going to Viet Nam to use the libraries, you should consult all three.
The Woodrow Wilson Working Papers series is a nice mailing list to be on. Accompanying the package with Bradley and Brigham's article was Working Paper #8, "Soviet Aims in Korea and the Origins of the Korean War, 1945-1950: New Evidence from Russian Archives," by Kathryn Weathersby of Florida State University. It seems that Stalin was not trying to take over the world by sending the North Korean troops over the border. Good old I.F. Stone. Good for the Wilson Center, for backing scholarship.
It's really an interesting project. I'm going to write for the back issues, to wit: #1, Chen Jian, "The Sino-Soviet Alliance and China's Entry into the Korean War," #2, P.J. Simmons, "Archival Research on the Cold War Era: A Report from Budapest, Prague, and Warsaw," #3, James Richter, "Reexamining Soviet Policy Towards Germany during the Beria Interregnum," #4, Vladislav M. Zubok, "Soviet Intelligence and the Cold War: The 'Small' Committee of Information, 1952-3," #5, Hope M. Harrison, "Ulbricht and the Concrete 'Rose': New Archival Evidence on the Dynamics of Soviet-East German Relations and the Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961," #6, Vladislav M. Zubok, "Kruschev and the Berlin Crisis (1958-1962)." Report format is stapled, doublesided, doublespaced, 8 1/2 by 11.