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In the quest to figure out the events that took place in the history of America, I had an opportunity to interview a close family friend who was one of the African American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The interviewee is an eighty-year-old retired veteran soldier who witnessed numerous memorable events that took place in America during and after the Vietnam War.
Interview Question and Answer
I asked what his perception of the Anti -Vietnam War was. He responded that there was a lot of resistance within and outside the military against the Vietnam War. Most of the servicemen considered the war brutal and unjust.
The second question I asked was about the events that took place during the war. He confirmed that several events took place that unraveled the dissatisfaction of the service members in the war as asserted by Hagopian Patrick (2011).
I further asked him to explain the events that took place in detail. He answered by giving an instance of the event that took place during the war in 1965 when a graduate from west point in Vietnam refused to go to a remote Vietnam village where the war was taking place his actions led to his dismissal from the service. The following year, three servicemen denounced the war as unjust, and they were later imprisoned. Another memorable event that happened in 1967, as noted by Hagopian Patrick was the case of an army doctor who refused to train recruits in the special force and considered them as murderers. He was charged for inciting other servicemen and imprisoned. Also, a navy nurse was court marshaled for joining a peace demonstration wearing a uniform and distributing anti-war leaflets (Hagopian 3).
I asked him about the memorable period he could recall during the war. He answered that he could recall the period when the anti-war movement was spreading, and a coffee house (UFO) was set up. In the UFO, soldiers talked freely and read anti-war literature. Besides, the UFO lasted for several years before it was closed down through court action. However, this did not deter more UFO from spreading across the country.
I later asked if that was the only memorable event that took place during the war. He categorically said no, that he could also recall an event in the Vietnam War front while demonstrations were taking place back in the United States during Moratorium Day, some soldiers in Vietnam wore Black armbands to show their solidarity with the demonstrators back at home. Almost one hundred soldiers in the air cavalry division refused to fight.
I asked for his opinion on the brutality of the event. He answered that the brutality of the war was when some officers set bombs under the tents of their high-rank officers or commandant.
I requested him to elaborate more on the other major event he could trace back to the 70s and the Veteran soldiers. He explained that in 1970, a group of veterans formed a group and headed to Detroit to testify in public against the atrocities that took place while they served in Vietnam (Hagopian 20). Also, some veterans formed a movement that was against the ongoing war, and in 1972, two pilots refused to fly their plane to the mission.
I asked him to elaborate on the sad occurrence he could trace to the war. (Emotionally touched) He said that their mission in Vietnam had led to the destruction of villages and the murder of innocent women and children. He remembered saving a Vietnamese woman who was pregnant and could not escape like other villagers.
I further asked him to explain how he managed to save the woman. He said that he hid her in a bush and offered her the canned beans he had in my backpack.
I asked what disturbing event he could relate to the war. He answered that there are several disturbing events he could relate to the war, and this has led to psychological problems among the veterans who returned to the United States. He also recalled losing a friend who suffered a mental breakdown and lost his life through hanging.
Interview on Discrimination in the military
I asked for his perception of the Vietnam Soldiers. He said that while the Vietnam war was going on, there was racial discrimination among the soldiers, more specifically the African Americans and other minority class. The Vietnam War corresponded with the civil rights movement that took place in the United States. However, some of the black cultural styles such as language and gestures were transferred to the war (Terry 45).
I later requested to know his view about the war. He lamented that the Vietnam War was the first war fought by both black and white soldiers from the same battalion or unit. In previous wars, the black soldiers went to war, hoping to gain democratic rights as soon as they get back home, but this did not happen.
I asked about the other soldier’s view after the war. He explained that the other soldiers realized that they were still denied their human rights after fighting for the United States and emerging victorious.
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I asked what the black soldiers’ aim of fighting the war was. He answered that the black soldiers thought fighting the war will give them democratic rights in the U.S. furthermore, most of the black soldiers joined the military to escape from their poor standard of living. They were eager to prove their worth to the country.
I asked for the opinion of war front black soldiers’ during the war. He explained that the black soldiers on the war front began identifying themselves as enemies.
I asked him about the reaction of the war front black soldiers’. He answered that they equated the situation in Vietnam to what they were going through and referred to the Vietnamese as victims of colonial racial hostility. He further explained that the black soldiers supported the anti-war protests.
I asked him about the black soldiers’ approach toward racism during the war. He answered that racial tensions emerged in the Army, and black soldiers started rebelling against their senior officers hence they ended up disobeying the orders of their superiors. Furthermore, a group known as the Black Panther was formed among the black soldiers to encourage violence against white soldiers.
I asked him about the Presidents reaction towards racial discrimination in the military. He answered that the President noticed the abnormalities in the military, and he supported the move to tone down racial discrimination in the United States but his attempt failed due to the influence of elite, rich white individuals who insisted on maintaining the status quo.
I asked him about his view about racial discrimination in the U.S during that period. He answered that during that period, the white populace had their bars and restaurants that didn’t allow Black Americans. Moreover, in public transport, blacks were isolated from the white populace.
I asked him for his view about the present American society. He answered that the present American society is open, and there is no racial discrimination among the populace.
I finally asked him what he appreciates about the present American society and culture. He answered that by saying there are tremendous efforts made by the people of American in eliminating racial discrimination.
Hagopian, Patrick. Vietnam War in American Memory: Veterans, Memorials, and the Poltics of Healing. Amherst: Massachusetts: Univ. Of Massachusetts Press, 2011. Print.
Terry, Wallace. Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: an Oral History. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2013. Print.