May 1, 2000
On March 31, 2000, Swans' columnist Margaret Wyles sent me a short E-mail: "Just wanted to call your attention to the 25th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on April 30th if you aren't already aware, in case you want to plan something."
I must admit, I was unaware. I have blurred memories of my own thoughts during that time as I was preoccupied with my own personal defensive war against a violent and abusive father. And I did not even own a television (I actually waited 32 years to purchase my first TV set, when I originally came to the United States - a purchase I have regretted ever since...). This was the first TV or livingroom war in history. No TV; no war. I only remember that I sided quite naturally with the underdog and wished the Yankees the same outcome that the French had experienced in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu.
So, this anniversary did not mean much to me. However, I sent a short E-mail to a series of current contributors to Swans to assess their interest in Margaret's suggestion.
I received positive answers from practically everybody. I was asked about guidelines and responded: "All of you write as you see it. Whether you write a personal, emotional, intellectual, or anything-in-between, perspective or retrospective will be fine with me. In short, I do not mind the potential overlap or the possible absence of overall common thread. My only suggestion is that you lay on paper your thoughts, your analysis, your emotions. Be yourself."
I was unprepared for the intensity of emotions this issue would provoke and felt the need to seek advice and help from Jan Baughman and a friend who has a lifetime of writing and editing experience. The three of us formed an ad hoc editorial board and we went to work.
One hundred E-mails later, countless editing hours and a few agreements and disagreements among the various writers, the editorial board accepted 9 papers out of the 11 we had received. Most contributors should be well known to Swans' readership. From Rick Rozoff who's our main researcher and a powerful writer on his own to Milo Clark who's been contributing to Swans since its inception in 1996. Readers will also recognize the familiar names of Jan Baughman, Mac Lawrence and Margaret Wyles.
Doug Baughman is Jan's older brother. He is a Vietnam War Veteran who lives in Hawaii with his wife, Beth. He works in agriculture and is an aspiring artist. His contribution is in the form of a letter to his sister. Eileen Rinde is a lifelong activist who for the past 30 years has volunteered her talent and energy to the non-profit organizations Beyond War and its successor, the Foundation for Global Community. She presently works on a major project called A Walk Through Time. She has also written for the organization's magazine, Timeline (Mac Lawrence is Timeline's editor). Aleksandra Priestfield is a talented freelance journalist and occasional poet from the antipodes. She will contribute a regular column to Swans.
This special Vietnam Retrospective will remain posted until May 14, 2000.
Vietnam: A Retrospective
Prism And Touchstone - by Rick Rozoff
The Road to Wisdom - by Aleksandra Priestfield
Through the Eyes of a Child - by Jan Baughman
The Trauma of Coming Home - by Doug Baughman
Reflections on the War in Vietnam - by Mac Lawrence
Making Sense out of Senselessness - by Eileen Rinde
An Uneasy Peace - by Margaret Wyles
Myths and Reality - by Antony Black
Stay Under the Radar Screen - by Milo Clark
Conclusion - by Gilles d'Aymery