PBS last night had three hours of documentary coverage of two tragic events, occurring 45 and 40 years ago at the end of April.
In 1970, Richard Nixon ordered the invasion of Cambodia, an escalation of the war in Vietnam, causing massive anti war demonstrations, and the massacre of students at Kent State University in Ohio by the Ohio National Guard, a total of four killed and ten wounded; and Jackson State College in Mississippi, the killing of two students by state troopers and local police. This tragic event was covered in “The Day the Sixties Ended”, an hour presentation.
Then, five years later, on April 30, the final evacuation from Vietnam, two years after the Paris Peace Accords supposedly guaranteed two separate Vietnams, after 12 years of war, and 58,000 Americans had been killed, took place. About 130,000 South Vietnamese were evacuated, but hundreds of thousands were left behind, and ended up in re-education camps of the Communist Vietnamese government, or were “Boat People”, many of whom died in the South China Sea. A few hundred thousand ended up in the US, and others, in the Philippines and several other nations, but it was a tremendous human tragedy. These tragic events were covered in “The Last Days in Vietnam”, an award winning documentary put together by Rory Kennedy, the youngest child of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, born months after his assassination in 1968.
The sad part about these events in 1970 and 1975 is that most Americans have no awareness of these events, and we continue to make similar mistakes, as in the disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan, but causing the loss of American lives and treasure, and the massive loss of life among the people of those nations.
Both 1970 and 1975 are times of shame, but most Americans, being clueless, makes it ever more a shame!