Updated: August 8, 2014 6:11AM
Were returning Vietnam veterans greeted by antiwar protesters with spitting, cussing and accusations of being “baby killers”?
In my recent column on that still-controversial war and its still-beleaguered vets, one Vietnam vet told me, “I wouldn’t have responded well to being spit on and called a baby killer. The indifference I received from people was bad enough.”
Was he spit on and called a baby killer? No. Was the other vet whom I profiled? No. Was any Vietnam vet? Or is this an urban myth that has lingered into the 21st century to discredit the antiwar movement of that generation?
“Jerry, I was disappointed that you repeated the old canard that veterans were spit on and abused when they returned,” region historian Ron Cohen wrote after reading my column. “You might be surprised to know there is absolutely no proof of this having happened.
“I was very much alive and active in the 1960s and have no memory of anyone having such hostile feelings. I didn’t read that any of the vets you talked to had such an experience. Did any of their friends?” he said.
Great question, I replied. And it’s one that I am amplifying to local Vietnam vets for their responses to either confirm or disprove these decades-old allegations.
The 1998 book, “The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam,” by sociologist Jerry Lembcke, counters this long-held allegation against antiwar protesters. He found no evidence of such things being said or done to Vietnam vets.
The rumor may have been derived from what protesters often hurled at then-President Lyndon B. Johnson: “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
Lembcke theorized that “spitting on” those soldiers was more a mythical projection by those who felt “spat upon” at that time, though no evidence supports those claims, he writes.
I must confess: I, too, was raised to believe this actually happened in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Perception is reality, and this was how I was taught to perceive that war and its confusing reality.
I challenge local Vietnam vets to confirm whether such abuse ever happened to you upon returning to the states. If so, please let me know.
‘Forgotten’ Korean War
Other readers contacted me after reading that column on Vietnam, asking why I didn’t at least mention the Korean War and its veterans’ struggles.
“Jerry, I’m a Korean War veteran and I’m disappointed. I guess our war was truly a forgotten war, as it’s been labeled,” said Kerry J., of Hammond.
Kerry, that previous column specifically was on the Vietnam conflict and the 50-year anniversary of our country’s war-like involvement in that country. I meant no disrespect to those involved in the Korean War, and thank you for serving.
‘Blah, blah, blah ... ’
Many Christians were outraged that I wrote “blah, blah, blah” when referring to their Bible-based stance on the polarizing issue of same-sex marriage.
“Jerry, the bible is not something to say ‘blah blah blah’ about, especially when referring to the sin of homosexuality,” said Greta K., of Kouts, echoing other readers.
Greta, my use of “blah, blah, blah” referred to those Christians, and others, who cherry-pick Biblical passages to support or justify their self-righteous stances or bigoted prejudices on a variety of modern-day issues — of course all the while conveniently ignoring or forgetting other passages or scripture they can’t apply, cite or even obey.
I’ve seen many lifelong believers change their tune about homosexuality when — surprise — it affects their family life. Each time, they find a way to intertwine their old beliefs with their newfound acceptance of someone’s (yawn) sexual orientation.
Same-sex marriage is yet another social issue that will gain mainstream acceptance and normalcy in our society regardless of what the Bible says. That’s a fact, not my belief.
driving on the beach
On June 22, Gary police responded to a call of a black Audi partially submerged in Lake Michigan at the Sullivan Street beach in Miller.
Its driver, Luke Hoffman, 24, was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and endangering the safety of others. His blood-alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit when he later submitted to a breath test at the police station, police say.
The incident happened on a Sunday afternoon, and witnesses told me that the vehicle plowed down the beach, fortunately missing beachgoers.
“He could have killed someone,” one witness said.
His passenger, 22-year-old Erin Hoffman, yelled and cursed at responding officers and she also was arrested, for disorderly conduct, police said.
I tell you about this incredibly irresponsible incident to illustrate my seasonal warning about drinking, driving and stupidity, which go together like rum, Coke and ice this time of year.
If you’re going to drink and drive — and I know many of you will regardless of countless warnings and near-misses — at least stay off the beaches.
Fair Oaks Farm unveiled its new Farmhouse restaurant last weekend with a bacon-wrapped, invitation-only open house. In a word, it was delicious.
The popular “agri-tourism” attraction bills its newest addition as the first onsite farm-to-table restaurant in the country, and its opening event perfectly showcased its amenities.
Hundreds of guests showed up to sample distinctly American cuisine made with grain-fed beef, pork and chicken, as well as produce grown on that farm. I was told that roughly 50 to 90 percent of its entire menu comes from the property, located just off Interstate 65 in Newton County.
The country-style restaurant is spacious, the food is amazing, and the service was top-notch, including outdoor dining tables. The event also boasted a fiddler on the front porch and attractive women sporting Daisy Duke-type short-shorts standing on the buffet tables. Yep, I’m not joking, ya’ll.
Watch a video sampling of the new restaurant’s offerings at http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/davich/index.html.