“Don’t trust anyone over 30!” This was a common anti-war cry during the anti-VietNam protests. The supposition was that all we young people would find some commonality drawn from our youth that would render us a cohesive political force to be reckoned with. What we actually forged was the beginning of the class war we are engaged in today.
We were an noncohesive force that was either going to send its males to the meat grinder war that was accentuating or differences; or that was going to use family money and ties to buy a degree and a job in corporate America. College, whether one could afford to hide out from the draft boards for four years was the line of demarcation. We’ve been living with that separation ever since Ike sent advisors in to help the French loose at Dien Bien Phu.
Do we drink beer and listen to country caterwauling, or smoke pot and lionize Jerry Garcia. Do we watch NASCAR or soccer? Do we enlist in the armed forces or do we harbor contempt for the men and women who wear the uniform and who believe that they are honestly preserving the tenets of American government as they risk their lives in yet another of the series of wars that are being fought at the demand of oil companies or another Halliburton CEO.
We VietNam vets are aging rapidly now. We’re the old men and women who populate the halls and waiting rooms of the VA hospitals. We’ve managed to survive our combat injuries and we’re now dealing with the consequences of aging. We’re way over 30 now. That’s a place we never worried about as we pulled an LP outside the wire, as we re-armed the planes for another Tac Air mission. It is a place we never worried about as we plugged sucking chest wounds, tied off arteries, or tried yet another way to make sure the young man on the litter or on the muddy ground got to worry about being over 19.
There is another place I worry about now. It is a place where my fingers no longer dance on a keyboard or a fret board. It’s a place where music is muddied and diminished It is a place where age doesn’t matter but Occupational Therapy does. Over thirty, over 60, over the hill; I never thought of that place when I was engaged in that class war of the 1960s. Today, it is no longer my choice whether or not I think about it.