Monday, August 3, 2015

Reading Lynn Anderson's obituary and thinking about the Vietnam War

Lynn Anderson, 67, Singer of 'Rose Garden'.  (The New York Times, 7/31/2015)
Ms. Anderson attributed the song’s popularity to its emotional tug as the nation was trying to recover from the war in Vietnam. “This song stated that you can make something out of nothing,” she told The Associated Press. “You take it and go ahead.”

As I read this section of Lynn's obituary, I immediately asked myself two questions:
  • "Can you recover from something, especially something as divisive as the Vietnam War, before it's over."
  • "How many troops were killed in action in Vietnam in 1970?"  ("Rose Garden" spent 6 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in January and February 1971.)

In answer to the first question, my memory tells me we were just trying to put the war behind us in early 1971.  The heyday of the anti-war protests was over, and the killings at Kent State and Jackson State in May 1970 subsequently created a different mood on many college campuses, amplified by the heavy, deadening note of the Sterling Hall bombing on August 24.  That was certainly the case at UB, where anti-war protests and related activities were a prominent feature of campus life during my freshman and sophomore years.  From the first week of my junior year, it was as though the light of resistance had been turned off.

As for the fatal casualties, the numbers were clearly on the decline.

But officially, there were still 2+ years of the war remaining.

Post-'Rose Garden' selective timeline
June 13, 1971The New York Times begins publishing a series of articles based on the Pentagon Paper.
January 1, 1972.  133,000 American troop are stationed in Vietnam.
December 1972.  U.S. drops more than 20,000 tons of bombs during the 12-day Operation Linebacker Two
January 27, 1973.  Signing of a cease fire.
March 1973.  Last American combat soldiers leave Vietnam.

October 27, 1987.   The Healing Begins:  Flowers, Poems, Photos Adorn Granite.  (Philadelphia Inquirer)

April 26, 2015Our Vietnam War Never Ended.   (The New York Times)

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