Later in the year Jeff Sharlet came home from Vietnam, not long before the Gulf of Tonkin incident in the South China Sea, destined to become a turning point in the Vietnam War. After North Vietnamese fast boats attacked a US destroyer, President Johnson (LBJ) ordered a retaliatory air strike, the country rallied around the flag, and Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, non-binding political rhetoric that both LBJ and his successor Richard Nixon would subsequently use as the basis for waging full-scale war in Southeast Asia.
Jeff had seen that war first hand and was returning to Indiana University (IU) to study politics. His letters home had indicated serious reservations about the US mission in Vietnam and our deepening involvement there. As a trained Vietnamese linguist and serving in the top secret Army Security Agency (ASA), he’d been in a position to see and hear more of what became America’s quagmire. ASA, whose motto was “We weren’t there,” wryly described itself with the saying “In God we trust, all others we monitor.”
Somthin' like i've never seen
Heck I'm just going on 15,
But with the help of my fanaglein' uncle
I get snuk in for my first taste of sin
I said let me have a big old sip
bbbb i done a double back flip†
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I’s taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that the land that I live in
Has God on its side†
♫Lyndon Johnson told the nation,
"Have no fear of escalation.
I am trying everyone to please.
Though it isn't really war,
We're sending fifty thousand more,
To help save Vietnam from Vietnamese."†
I believe in God and Senator Dodd and a-keepin' old Castro down
And when it came my time to serve I knew "better dead than red"
But when I got to my old draft board, buddy, this is what I said:
Sarge, I'm only eighteen, I got a ruptured spleen
And I always carry a purse...
...Besides, I ain't no fool, I'm a-goin' to school
And I'm working in a DE-fense plant†
The marches, teach-ins, and protests continued to spread. The Vietnam Day Committee at Berkeley mobilized vast student audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area. IU students summering in Bloomington in August ‘65 staged a Hiroshima Day march against the war. A month later a national SDS meeting was held at a state park not far from campus, and that fall the IU SDS chapter was formally launched.
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam...
And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam†
You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'†
To play second fiddle,
Kill, kill, kill for peace...
...If you let them live
They might support the Russians†
Went out to fight the good fight in South Vietnam...
…And the war drags on.
Found himself involved in a sea of blood and bones
Millions without faces, without hope and without homes...†
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down†
A Hard Day’s Night: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eepw7LCa2SQ
Do You Want to Know a Secret: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVVvpW_5vgw