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.
I Want A Medal
The following is excerpted from the "Articles and News" column of Lesbian Connection: For, By & About Lesbians, Volume 16, Issue 1 (July/August 1993), Helen Diner Memorial Women's Center, Ambitious Amazons, PO Box 811, East Lansing, MI 48826.
I want a medal. I deserve one. I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I never went to Vietnam. I survived child sexual assault. I'm going through everything veterans with PTSD experience: nightmares, flashbacks, headaches, severe depression, extreme nervousness, etc. I've been through a war.
War veterans are decorated for their injuries; they get a Purple Heart. I'm wounded and disabled. I've been fighting for my dignity, personal power, safety and freedom since infancy. I've survived thirty-nine years of war and I deserve an award--the highest one--for my heroism. I propose a Black Heart of Valor.
While I'm at it, I think I ought to be recognized for all my campaign battles; I want to be honored for all the sexual assaults I've endured. Instead of living in fear and harboring my secrets, I want to be able to point to campaign ribbons and say, "I survived being raped by my grandfather and molested by my grandmother, father and both brothers. These are for the three times strange men have exposed themselves to me, the two obscene phone callers, the time I was goosed by an employer." I could use a cluster of stars to stand for the time my brother and his friends got drunk and assaulted me when I was eleven. I could explain that the five silver bars on my chest indicate the times when I was attacked and managed to talk, scream or fight my way out of being raped. And I'd have oak leaves (three of them) for each time I can remember when my brother tried to kill me.
I'm tired of being a faceless statistic. I'm not alone. I want to be believed. I can't take all my perpetrators to court, but I want to formally indict each and every one of them. I want to be acknowledged for my bravery. I want others like me to find the courage to step forward and break the silence that keeps us hidden, makes us feel so alone and isolated. I want a ceremony, too. I want all of us, women and children and men, to heal from the shame and devastation of our battles, fought, lost and endured. Through honestly displaying our valor, we can honor ourselves and our dead.
I'm a war veteran and I want to be decorated for it. I wish this system of medals and ribbons could be available on a national level. What a unique way to gather data on just how pervasive this problem is. How healing this all might be.
I'm a war veteran and I want to be decorated for it.
-- Artemis, Seattle, WA
A group of us in New Haven (including VG authors Ben Kiernan and Nicole Vecchi) have been meeting for more than a year to establish a Sister City relationship with Hue. We have had representatives meet with municipal officials in Hue, to explain our interest and to solicit their reactions. It seems like the Sister City relationship will lead to some educational exchange. The officials in Hue are especially interested in gaining training in urban planning, library science, and special education. Raising funds for this kind of thing hinges on our meeting all the requirements for gaining official Sister City status. One requirement is official approval from our New Haven city government.
There are Sister City projects in the works in Los Angeles, Seattle, Honolulu and Baltimore. But New Haven is the first so far to win endorsement from both the Vietnamese and the U.S. municipal partners. We got a letter from Hue's People's Committee this summer, and we succeeded this fall in gaining a resolution from the New Haven Board of Alderman endorsing our project. After the fact, white POW/MIA activists from the suburban towns have convinced the Board of Aldermen to vote to consider rescinding their endorsement. The political opposition is fierce, organized principally by the fat guys in cammies and red berets. One day these POW/MIA freaks will be like the Flat Earth Society and that lying, evil black flag will be an embarrassment to every fire house and post office in the country, but right now the paramilitary martyr cult can still intimidate politicians.
There will be a hearing on 17 November 93, Wednesday, in the evening, at 200 Orange Street in New Haven, to allow all sides to express their views to the Human Resources Sub-Committee of the Board of Aldermen. Since the local paper has treated our opposition as the side of veterans and of patriotism, we have been soliciting sober, responsible people to come and make clear that most veterans and most informed Americans, including overseas Vietnamese, do not object to our project. Travel agent Ed Henry and former VVA membership executive Wayne Smith are coming from the Washington, DC, Ben Chitty is bringing a car full of brothers from the Clarence Fitch Chapter of the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War, John McAuliffe is coming from the United States-Indochina Reconciliation Project, Kevin Bowen and friends are coming from the William Joiner Center, and John Wheeler of Beyond the Wall has already spent a lot of time lobbying on our behalf. The hearing will feature local veterans and Vietnamese as well. It will be a circus. I am going to ask Kalí to come and write up the proceedings for the next issue.
Update as we go to press--Kalí couldn't make it to the meeting. I sure wish she could have, because I was too busy to count heads and take names. Here is a quick report I made for Hank Poli at Indochina Digest. Hank was anxious to get the word out about our difficulties, since they are typical of many nuisances that American friends of Viet Nam have faced lately. For example, the Treasury Department just froze the assets of a small NGO that works to improve ocular surgery in Viet Nam, because they bought some equipment in India from an Indian concern that transacted some of the business in New York. See Bruce Franklin's interview in Lies of Our Times, December 1993, pages 10-13, for a perspective which explains why normalization may not be as near and as inevitable as many think. Powerful business interests, led in lobbying by Nixon and Kissinger, favor a strong relationship with China and none with Viet Nam, over a strong commitment to the Southeast Asia region, including Viet Nam, as a counter to China. So we may have to live with the hateful, ignorant POW/MIA jerks and their funny hats and pirate flags for a while longer.
New Haven, CT--On Wednesday, November 17, the Sub-Committee on Human Resources of the New Haven Board of Aldermen met in a public hearing for all those concerned with the resolution before the Board to rescind the Board's September Resolution declaring New Haven a Sister City with Hue in Viet Nam. The hearing lasted 5 1/2 hours, from 6pm to 11:30pm. All speakers were limited to three minutes. Speaking against recension (in favor of the Sister City declaration) were members of the New Haven Committee to Form a Sister City with Hue, local supporters, and out-of-town advocates.
Committee members included Hubert Woodard, Committee Chair, Howie Chernikoff of the New Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Nicole Vecchi, M.D., of the Yale-Viet Nam Education Fund, Thuy Dinh of the East Haven Veterans Administration Hospital, Dan Duffy of Viet Nam Forum and Viet Nam Generation, Inc., Kathy Schas of The Obor Foundation, Jim Spencer of Yale's Forestry School and three members of the Yale Vietnamese Student Association. Local supporters included Louis DeBennedetti of the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War and Hugh Manke, chairman of the board of the International Voluntary Service. Out of town supporters included John McAuliffe of the US-Indochina Reconciliation Project, Ed Henry of Friends of the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial, John Wheeler of Beyond the Wall, Ben Chitty of the Clarence Fitch Chapter of the Viet Nam Veterans Against the War, and Helen Muller. Speakers for the opposition (in favor of rescinding the Sister City resolution) included members of VVA chapters and POW/MIA clubs from East Haven and other suburban towns, a number of recent Vietnamese ex-convict immigrants from Bridgeport, and Linda Schwartz of VVA's National Board of Directors. Four members of the Human Resources Sub-Committee were present for the full hearing, and several other alderman, including the chairman of the full Board, stopped in for an hour or so.
The atmosphere in the hearing room was threatening and unrestrained by civil order. John Wheeler was threatened during his testimony by cries of "Lock and load" from fat bearded men in fake military uniforms. The Vietnamese young people, especially the women, were threatened in Vietnamese by Vietnamese nationalists holding long pointed poles with the red and yellow banner of a defunct nation hanging from them. The subcommittee's vote in favor of rescinding the Sister City resolution was a foregone conclusion. The committee chair consistently cut off Sister City supporters at the time limit, while allowing those speaking against the Sister City resolution to maunder on. The chair, aged Italian-American machine Democrat mother of our progressive Congressional Representative, Rosa DeLauro, questioned the credentials of almost every speaker from our side, while letting every "vet" from the other side claim authority without question. I didn't see any DD-214s. The committee didn't question my credentials, because at our last hearing, I told them about my cousin David sending home an ear, and everyone turned green. At the end, the only vote in favor of maintaining the Sister City resolution came from the only black alder on the committee, a woman who cited her church's position in favor of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Lord bless and keep her. The Sub-Committee will report its vote to the full Board of Alderman next week. On December 20, the full Board will vote on whether to rescind the Sister City resolution or not. The Sister City Committee now counts 13 votes in its favor, out of a total 30 aldermen. Contact the Sister City Committee via Secretary Dan Duffy, 203-387-6882, or Chair Hubert Woodard, 203-776-7856.