The 1954 Deferment

Posted in History, Library of Congress, War by chamblee54 on May 23, 2018

As the reader(s) of this blog might notice, there is material posted every day at chamblee54. On many days, PG is too lazy to write new material, and goes into the archive. Today, there are two pieces. 1954 Deferment is from the blogspot version of chamblee54. In 2007, PG had a job making local deliveries, and listened to talk radio. Neal Boortz was in his glory. One day, PG heard enough about Vietnam, and decided to tell his own story. It is below. This post is written in first person.

A prominent radio whiner has been urged to come clean on his military record. In the spirit of not being a hypocrite, and with the optimistic thought that someone is interested, I have decided to do the same. I have what I call a 1954 deferment. I didn’t get a lottery number until the winter of 1973, after the Paris accords had been signed. My number was 337. The minimum age to sign up in those days was 17. If I had been gung ho to stop communism , I could have signed up in 1971.

By 1971 the war was over for America. We were trying something called “Vietnamization”, which meant we were bringing the combat troops home. Mr. Kissinger was working day and night to secure an acceptable treaty, which Mr. Nixon called Peace with Honor. A few weeks before the 1972 election, the announcement was made that “Peace is at hand”. What this treaty meant was that we got our P.O.W.s back, and withdrew the last of the combat troops. The North Vietnamese troops were not required to withdraw. After a while, with Mr. Nixon distracted by Watergate and the American Public in no mood to help, “Charlie” finished the conquest of South Vietnam. Whether we got all the P.O.W.s back is a subject of controversy. There is speculation that some P.O.W.’s were kept in Asia.

I graduated from High School in June 1972. This was in between the death of J. Edgar Hoover and the arrest of the Watergate Burglars. Jane Fonda”s trip to Hanoi was in July of 1972. Anti-war protests hit a peak during the Moratorium, in Autumn 1969. There was a last surge in May 1970, after the incursion into Cambodia. During this time we had the killings at Kent State, and suddenly protest didn’t seem like as much fun. That, combined with Vietnamization, served to quiet the antiwar movement. The Kent State killings were two days before my 16th birthday. The spell check suggestions for Vietnamization are Victimization, and Minimization.

I didn’t go to Vietnam. What if I had been a few years older? The truth is, I don’t know. You really don’t know what you would do until you have to. Probably, I would have gone the student deferment route, or something else non confrontational, to stay in North America. In the early stages of the War I supported it. In the winter of 1966, I attended a rally at Atlanta Stadium called “Affirmation Vietnam”. At that time, the war protesters were seen as weirdos. It wasn’t for a few more years that people realized their government was lying, and got tired of the pointless bloodshed.

In 1965, some people still believed the government when they heard we needed to stop communism. There was a draft, or legally enforced recruiting. The spirit of patriotism from World War II was still strong. When a young man got a draft notice, many assumed it was their duty to go. Many of the fatalities in Vietnam were conscripted troops.

Offends You. is based on a long forgotten facebook page, “If-the-American-Flag-offends-you-Ill-be-happy-to-help-you-pack.” In 2010, PG would see a prompt like that, and spit out a few hundred words before you could say media bias. And almost nobody would read it. The only function this text has is to go between the pictures.

There is a facebook page now, “If-the-American-Flag-offends-you-Ill-be-happy-to-help-you-pack.” This rubs PG the wrong way. PG has had a good life in The USA, and cannot imagine living anywhere else. He pays taxes without complaint. PG compares his thoughts about America with his thoughts about his hometown, of Atlanta GA. He has had a good life in both places, and does not want to live anywhere else. And yet, no one is ever asked to “die for Atlanta”. That duty is reserved for the national political unit. If PG had been 110 years older, he would have had to opportunity to die for Georgia.

The Stars and Stripes should not be used for jewelry, or as a gimmick. The flag should be respected, not left out in direct sunlight for years at a time, until the red, white, and blue is pink, gray, and lavender. A few years ago, after a Supreme Court ruling about flag burning, PG worked with someone who drove a van. There was a bumper sticker on that van, with the American Flag, and the message “Try burning this one”. That van was parked in direct sunlight every day, and the sun burned those colors off that van. Most people don’t consider this.

No, the American Flag does not offend PG. However, Facebook groups that would try to bully people who don’t have the “correct” opinion about this symbol…that would seek to create conflict between citizens…that does offend PG. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The photographer was Dorothea Lange, working in 1939 California.

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