October 15, 1969: The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. A Pause for Reflection in a Polarized America.

October 15, 1969: The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. A Pause for Reflection in a Polarized America.

The anniversaries of seminal events that rocked our world fifty years ago are coming hot and heavy this fall. Today, we remember a time when we tried a reasoned strategy to attempt to deal with a generation-defining issue in a country as divided then as we are now.

By the time of the Moratorium, America had been involved in Vietnam, in one way or another, for nearly ten years. Any initial objectives for the war were long gone, the domino theory relegated back to the game it was named after, the war’s progress descended into body counts, the goal now so incrementally small that there was no big picture left or possible. Our defense secretary was telling us that if we killed more Vietnamese than they killed Americans, it was a good week. Period. The Killed in Action Numbers came out on Thursdays.

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Women’s History Month: A Matter of Standing

Women’s History Month: A Matter of Standing

Women’s History Month isn’t an anniversary I typically celebrate or to which I pay much attention. Early in my career, in fact, like so many of us, I worked hard not to differentiate. Making an issue of being a woman in the workplace seemed to underline the very differences I was trying to equate. However, as I type this, I admit to feeling ashamed of myself and that—though I’m dying to meet Gloria Steinem in real life—I hope she doesn’t inquire about the details of my feminist record. It’s there, but in my younger years I did work harder for what seemed more immediate, achievable goals, like ending the Vietnam War. I would say I don’t feel tragically ashamed, more like the descendant of a suffragette being admonished by her ancestors: “Do you realize what we went through?” I’ve always been on the right side—but not raging. I wanted my career and achievements to speak for, not themselves, but for me. I had earned that standing, regardless of gender, I felt. Looking back, after learning how hard it was to be heard, even when you did everything right—even way beyond right—I wonder what on earth I was thinking about. Why did I feel I had to prove anything?

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December 1, 1969: A Date Which Will Live in Irony

December 1, 1969: A Date Which Will Live in Irony

Forty-nine years ago tomorrow was the date of the first Vietnam Draft Lottery, the day the phrase “to win the lottery” became, not a prize, but a death sentence. It was also a marker for a generation not unlike December 7, 1941, the date of the Pearl Harbor attack, characterized by then president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, as a “Date Which Will Live in Infamy,” a phrase which itself featured an ironic word referring to the dark side of famous. Perhaps that’s what war does to us? Keeps us mired in subtext, unable to talk straight.

I named my debut novel The Fourteenth of September, the birth date of the Number One lottery “winner” drawn on 12/1/69—straightforward, and crystal clear. All irony upfront and intended.

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Remember Kent State, May 4, 1970: An Iconic Moment for a Generation... A Coming of Conscience for a Country

Remember Kent State, May 4, 1970: An Iconic Moment for a Generation... A Coming of Conscience for a Country

Recently, while promoting the fall publication of my novel, The Fourteenth of September, which takes place during the pivotal 1969-1970 years of the Vietnam War, I was asked if—of the many iconic moments in American history that happened during that time period— one had impacted me more than any other.

I paused to consider the word iconic... icon—a symbol. No question. It was the Kent State Massacre, a symbol at the time of the total chasm between the government and the youth it was supposed to be protecting: the bridge too far that blew away most of the remaining support for the war, though it’s death throes dragged on another five years.

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