Last night we went to the local theatre and saw a play titled Minefields and Miniskirts. It was brilliantly performed and the accompanying slide show, my last week photo challenge https://irenewaters19.com/2014/03/15/weekly-photo-challenge-inside-the-cu-chi-tunnels/ and the folk music of the era all took me back to the sixties and early seventies when the peace movement was strong, the music evocative and the Vietnam War raged.
The play centred on the reflections of five women and the effect the war had on them. Four of them were in Vietnam – a nurse, an entertainer, a christian good works lady and a young journalist. The fifth, married to a Vietnam War veteran, had fought her own war when her now mentally disturbed husband returned from Vietnam. Each had her own unique war and aftermath. It moved from their life before the war and why they went, through the time they were there from early days to escaping by helicopter as the VC tank crashed the fence down of the presidential palace and then on to their life back in Australia on their return. Not only were many in the audience crying, the women on stage also had genuine tears pouring down their faces as they sang “Where have all the flowers gone….” They made it clear – each despite their own experiences saw the Viet Cong as human beings.
I reflected as I sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks where are the folk songs today asking for war to end? Why did this war create a movement in the 1960s that was instrumental in the end of the American involvement in the war and consequently our own?
For the first time we had a war that was in our living rooms and we were horrified at what we saw. We started to question the truth of what the government was telling us, particularly when we saw images of the My Lai Massacre in February 1970. Why have we not listened and learnt from this event which destroyed the lives of millions with the use of agent orange, land mines and post traumatic stress. Perhaps we don’t see it in our living rooms now. Not like then. Embedded journalists show us a sanitised version. Or are we anaesthetised to the brutality we see? But surely there must be some protest singers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. Maybe there are and I have just not heard them.
As I sit and remember reflections of a different kind I reflect on war and peace and I am reminded of what Bertrand Russell said “War does not determine who is right – only who is left behind.”