Skip to comments.'64 copy of LIFE key to Kerry's '60s mindset
Posted on 08/17/2004 12:24:44 AM PDT by kattracks
It was just a chance encounter with a little piece of history.
LIFE Magazine, the Aug. 21, 1964, edition, just waiting to be snatched up at the Boston Public Library book sale.
Ah, the summer of '64! I would have called it an idyllic one - days at the beach (in pre-casino Atlantic City), nights listening to the Philadelphia Orchestra under the stars at Robin Hood Dell. The future filled with possibilities.
The pages of LIFE chronicled the fact that ``The Munsters'' was the TV hit of the year, the widowed Jackie Kennedy was vacationing in Europe and Chesterfields were marketed as ``a mild smoke'' for those who ``just don't like filters.''
But this wasn't one of those happy celeb-covered LIFE Magazines that made it so popular. No, the cover shot was of South Vietnamese General Khanh as he ``eyes the enemy.''
It marked the start of a decade-long war that would tear this nation apart and take the lives of more than 50,000 young Americans. Some of them would be my high school classmates. It was a war that would come back to haunt us even during the 2004 presidential race - as aging former swiftboat crews and captains refight its battles on the presidential stage.
But four decades ago was when it all began. And this is the way LIFE described it:
``Hard against the border of Communist North Vietnam, South Vietnam premier, General Khanh, stood watch as his troops threw up defenses against an invasion that could come at any minute. The move followed the first direct U.S. action against North Vietnam - an air strike that President Johnson ordered against North Vietnam's navy after torpedo boats twice attacked an American destroyer in the international waters of the Gulf of Tonkin.
``Thus did South Vietnam's jungle war against the Communist Vietcong take an ominous new turn.''
The Gulf of Tonkin incident led to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in Congress on Aug. 7, 1964, which was as close as this nation ever got to a declaration of war against North Vietnam.
John Kerry [related, bio] was midway through his years at Yale. It would be more than four more years before he would begin his four-month tour of duty in Vietnam and nearly seven years until he would become the star of the anti-war protests on Capitol Hill.
And for those who like to draw comparisons with Iraq, imagine the timeline. A decade would separate the Tonkin Gulf incident and evacuation of the last Americans from Saigon. Today, not yet a year and a half from the start of the war that ousted Saddam Hussein, Iraq's own leaders attempt to forge a new democracy.
But John Kerry is caught in a time warp. A child of the '60s, he's still fighting that last war as he told us in his speech at the Democratic National Convention:
``I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: `I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm's way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people . . . from a threat that was real and imminent.. . . this is the only justification for war.''
The world has changed, but not Kerry's '60s-era mindset. And that's about as close to today's truth as that old Chesterfield ad.
Look at the guy to his left behind him. I think you nailed it!
I guess LBJ was a real gas.
That's why he always had a heavy heart.
Have I shown you my appendix scar yet?
(LBJ lifts up shirt, after which, he proceeds to walk across thread to a copse of trees, where he urinates.)
Let see I was 8 in Aug 64...and my favorite TV show was about to become "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." (it started in Sept that year and got the full U.N.C.L.E. siper rifle/sub machine gun with the red night scope for Chrismas! o how un pc)
LBJ was a twit.
I tell ya what...
(Rubs "Ladybird's" tummy. Throws her a rubber ball.)
Actually, I posted that picture because I often sense that a lot of people think the Sixties was all about cultural stuff like the Beatles, Peter Max and Timothy Leary, "free love" (now that's a good one - lol), etc. And while all those things were wonderful in their own little ways, in terms of change or in terms of influence on the way in which we live today, they really don't hold a candle to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Those statutes really made some huuuuuuuuuge changes in the way we operate. ;-)