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Interview with Joseph Lee Gallaway

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Gallaway, Joseph Lee ; McKiernan, Stephen


Joseph Lee Gallaway is a veteran war correspondent and an author. In his writing, Galloway covered conflicts all across the world, including the Vietnam War, the first Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War. He is the co-author of the Vietnam War book We Were Soldiers Once... and Young, which was later adapted into a movie, We Were Soldiers.




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McKiernan Interviews




McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Joseph Lee Galloway
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: Benjamin Mehdi So
Date of interview: 18 November 1996

(Start of Interview)

JG: There is home. But in this case, and maybe in every case, that was wrong, that it was not, Dan Garcia, who, whoever left home. He was at home with professionalism, he was at home with his courage. He was at home with those he served with. And maybe, just maybe it is we, who did not go, who did not serve, for whatever reason, who have been away from home all these years. And so, I say, not a welcome home to Dan, but a welcome to the rest of us. That is very powerful stuff.

SM: Wow. That is.

JG: And I have showed that to a number of Vietnam veterans, and every one of them just left with tears in their eyes, at how right he got it. And I am sure in my heart that-that-that Peter Goldmark was probably a campus protestor, march against the war. And I wrote him and told him, that I that I really would love to see him, expand on that those remarks and give them to a broader audience. Because where we are now is, is we need reconciliation, this country, the war, rip-rip, ripped the country apart. And either we find some way to forgive each other and forgive ourselves or the world just keep killing us like those old Cambodian mines keep children that were not even born when the war ended.

SM: See that is the premise of why I am trying to do this project. There were a couple of things that that prompted me to even try to do this. I have worked at universities now for over 18 years. But in the last five years, when we do programs both on and off campus, I have taken students to meet leaders and I got involved with Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Philadelphia. We did a program at my former school at Jefferson where Don Bailey, the former Auditor General, who was a Purple Heart recipient in the Vietnam War refused to sit down with the Vietnam veterans responsible for the wall in Philly. We did a program at my former school at Jefferson where Don Bailey, the former Auditor General, who was a Purple Heart recipient in the Vietnam War refused to sit down with the Vietnam veterans responsible for the wall in Philly. And they, you may remember, uh, many years back when they tried to put the wall together in Philadelphia, that, uh, some of the top Vietnam veterans went to Washington, took the names off the wall, and walked the entire distance back to Philadelphia, and then buried the names right at the, at the ceremony when they opened several years. And Bailey would not shake hands with those veterans. And I thought that kind of- That was my first inkling that despite all the fantastic things with the wall, the healing and so forth, that maybe there is still a lot of healing that has to be done, not only within the Vietnam veteran community, but within the nation as a whole. And then a couple other instances have led up to this desire to try to interview people for their perceptions on questions that I am asking everyone. And then of course, there is spontaneity going in different directions, because my basic purpose here is to- It is a very complex issue, the Vietnam War and the (19)60s and the early (19)70s and the Boomer generation, their impact on America. But I guess I am frustrated because I see tremendous attacks being leveled against the Boomers right now, which is my generation. And first question I wanted to ask you is, when you look at all the current criticisms of the Boomer generation, which is those people born between 1946 and (19)64, but mostly those Boomers who were in college or of college age during the Vietnam War. A lot of criticism's being leveled against them as to the breakdown of American society, the drug scene started then, the divorce rate is on the rise, being the free love and effects and all that other stuff happened at that time. No respect for authority, because on college campuses during the war, there was protests, and they did not respect administrators or anybody in position of authority. Of course, they were lied to by their government. But what are your thoughts on the criticisms today leveling against the entire Boomer generation and the decay of our society going right back to those times?

JG: Well, the first thing I have to say is that I am not a Boomer. I was born in (19)41, before the war started. I am a prewar model by three weeks. But what that means is that I did not, I did not meet my father until I was four years old, four and a half, when he came back from-from the army. I guess everybody's thoughts about the boomer generation are-are shaped, to a large extent by what you have read and what you have seen of the (19)60s and the (19)70s. My thing is that-that during the (19)60s and the (19)70s, I was out of this country. I went, I have essentially left this country in 1964, and did not come back until 1980. I was a war correspondent in Vietnam, I was a foreign correspondent. I served Tokyo, Vietnam, Tokyo, Indonesia, India, Singapore, and then finished up with three years as the bureau chief in Moscow for UPI. So, I cannot tell you that I ever saw campus demonstration in this country, or that I ever saw confrontations with the police, except as I read them, newspapers and in the magazines, and saw the stories on the wire. So, I guess my view is, is a little removed. And maybe a little less passionate as to what went on. The boomers, I think, had no patent on the changes that took place in this country. They were a catalyst. Sometimes for good sometimes for bad. I am not sure that you can saddle them with responsibility for everything. But they are responsible for enough to make it interesting.

SM: What were your thoughts? As a person who served in Vietnam, when maybe you were not here in America, but you were-were over there. And you heard about, you heard about the protests, things that were happening on the college campuses, probably, I would say started around (19)65 and until about 1972. What were your thoughts as a person who was over there serving, and then the thoughts of your contemporaries and how you may be changed over the years and your perceptions of-

JG: The thing is that I always looked as to motive. Personally, after the first six weeks that I was in Vietnam, I found myself rather opposed to this war. I thought it was being fought very stupidly. I thought that we had bitten off a rather larger chunk than this country would ever be able to chew. It did not take long. I mean, I arrived there, sort of all I knew about war was what I had learned in John Wayne movies, and I think on the third day in country, I found myself on a helicopter landing on a hill where a Vietnamese ranger battalion had been overrun and every man killed, and we were there to find and collect the body of the American advisors. And so, you know, I helped carry that man to that helicopter. And I thought to myself, right then and there, this is, this is not, this is not quite what I thought it was going to be.

SM: Then this is (19)64?

JG: This is 1965, March-March of (19)65. I landed there, right after the first battalion of US Marines came ashore at Da Nang. And this was immediately thereafter. And you know, and in the process of doing that story, I immediately ran into some IVS volunteers who worked that province. And I said, “I bet you are glad to see Americans here.” And the guy looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “No, this is complicating my life, no end and making it much more dangerous. Before I could drive the roads of this province, rather freely, taking care of people who were starving or needed medical help or whatever. And now I cannot because all Americans have become priority targets”. And so, you know, literally the first week I began finding out stuff that made me question whether this was-was a very wise course we had undertaken to walk. Now as for these people back here, who really, the demonstrations did not get started until late (19)65. I think it was, oh, the old beat poet. Ginsberg had a demonstration in San Francisco in November of 1965. And I think that was one of the very earliest ones. And I, when I was doing research on our book, I-I went back and looked at that, and I found Senator Everett Dirksen, denouncing these people, as communists and traders and suggesting that they all be shot. So, you know, it was a real startling sort of a development at that time. I cannot say that I knew at that time that it happened to me, but I do not think it crossed my, my radar scope. By the time there was a movement, and there was a major confrontation going on. I am afraid that although I oppose the war myself, I could find not a lot to say for these people who also opposed it because I questioned their motives. I thought it was, shall we say enlightened self-interest. It was a protest against the draft far more than it was against the war. And I thought it was very elitist. I thought, you know, I knew who was fighting alongside me in Vietnam, I knew very-very well, because in the first major battle of the war, in the Drang Valley, I met a kid from my high school class that I graduated with in Refugio, Texas. And that was a graduating class of (19)55 kids. And his name was Vincent Cantu. And in that valley, for a dozen more guys, Hispanics, all of them from South Texas, within 20, 30 miles of my hometown, so I knew who was fighting this war. And I knew who was not fighting this war. And so, I had some trouble with their motives.

SM: Let me check this to make-

JG: Something to drink?

SM: I am fine. I got my Coke here. I stopped at McDonald’s. Talking about the motives now kind of moving up to 1996 as opposed to 1965. The Vietnam memorial was built as a nonpolitical entity. I really admire Jan Scruggs, and all the people involved in that whole process making that happen. I know all about the obstacles that he faced with getting that particular part of a portion of land and so forth, but it is a nonpolitical entity. Yet, when I go to the wall, and I have tried to go the last four Memorial Days, I have been there the last form or days and this is my third veterans day in a row to try to get an ambience and a feel for what transpires there, I sense that there is, there definitely is a lot of healing. But I still get the sense that we have a long way to go. And when I say a long way to go, not only amongst the veterans, but the non-veterans, the people who come to that wall, yours truly the Steve McKiernan's, who was in college at that time did not serve. I was a severe asthmatic, and I got out of the service that way. But it was not I was getting out of the service. I just could not serve. I had a very severe asthma. But the division seemed to still be there. And the question I was trying to raise is-is how much healing has really taken place amongst the veteran’s number one? And will they ever forgive those who were on the other side? The those who oppose the war. And the second question is, do you think there is merit in trying to take the next step beyond the wall, which was to heal the Vietnam veterans to try to heal the generation, the whole generation which the divisions still seem to happen? I just liked your thoughts on both of those questions.

JG: Well, to start, to start at the top of the wall, and the end, the whole sort of homecoming exercise of the last 12 or 15 years has been for the veterans, a very positive, very healing experience. I-I find it very hard to explain to someone who does not carry the same baggage, exactly what it means. The best way, I guess is to tell you that I have never been so privileged and honored as, as this past Veteran’s Day. When I got to hold up, lift up a young boy, four and a half years old Thomas Alexander Rudell, so that for the first time, he could touch the name of his grandfather, my friend, Captain Tom Metzger, who was killed in action,14, November 1965. And over my shoulder, I can see Tom's daughter, I could see both pride and pain their eyes. And so, to me, this is, man this is this is more than any church I have ever been in. It has more power to it. It is without question, the most powerful and healing piece of art that I know of, on the face of this earth. And it is so for most of those who went to Vietnam, it was a place that that for us is- I have seen too much magic there either. There is no other word for it. If you go talk to the volunteers who work at that wall and ask them for their stories. They will tell someone come up and say, “I am looking for someone who knew my father.” And they will say, “Go stand at his panel, and just stay there a while, and something will happen.” And it always does. There is there is a potency to that experience. That is, it is almost overwhelming. But that is healing for those who were directly wounded. If you are going to look for healing for those who did not go for whatever reason, I am not sure that is not the place. They are not going to find healing there for themselves. I do not know what we do about them. What we do about-about reconciliation. This is something that has got to be worked on. And we need to work on it.

SM: That reconciliation. Talking about almost like Lewis [Burwell] Puller [Jr.] was talking about before he killed himself back in (19)94, when he reached out, when the invitation to Bill Clinton to come to the Vietnam Memorial that year. And then Lewis wanted to sit and right beside him as he was speaking, remember that? I watched it. And I got to know Lewis briefly before he killed himself because I took students to the wall, and he spent three hours with our students there. And then the following spring, killed himself. Our students were quite shocked. But it was, it is the business of healing. That wall is for Vietnam veterans to heal, and their families and those who served because that is what is for, it to pay tribute to them, the people who served this country and gave the ultimate price because they were not welcomed home. But the next step is I would like your commentary in terms of when the invitation was given by Jan, and Lewis was supportive of it, to bring Bill Clinton there. That is, that is to me is tremendous reconciliation, bringing the other side. And it is almost like, I know how veterans feel toward McNamara the most a lot of them hate him because of some of the things he did. But would not the ultimate reconciliation be having him at the wall? Or having your strongest opponents Tom Hayden at the wall? Or trying to say those were very difficult times. We need to heal as a nation and shake hands, forgive. And it is hard to forget sometimes some of the things that went on, especially Jane Fonda going to Hanoi. Now, that is hard to forgive, but-

JG: Well, I have a-a lot bigger problem forgiving McNamara. He is the guy who knew, and he lied. And he, he lost heart in the war very early on probably as a result of the battle that I fought in. The battle that I wrote about. I think by November 1965, he knew it was a lost cause. And he did not have the balls to stand up, say it. He did not have the balls to give the right advice to his boss, President Johnson. He just silenced himself. He walled off his arm on judgment and was a good soldier for too long, terrible more years. And he did not address any of that in his book that he wrote last year. That-that is a that is a quibbler’s book. It is a book that tries to point blame at everybody but himself. I got no forgiveness for a guy like that. He dies, he goes to hell, ninth level. And Lyndon Johnson is waiting for him. And Boy is he pissed-

SM: That is amazing he was-

JG: Clinton-Clinton is the national command authority. He is the chief executive; he is the Commander in Chief of the armed services. On that day that you talk about, when Clinton came to the wall, that morning at Arlington National Cemetery, I was the master of ceremonies at-at Memorial Day services, and I looked at this crowd, I had about 30 minutes with him before he got there. And I saw some who were thinking about making a noise. And I said, ‘Do not do it.” I said, “Whatever else you may think of him, you respect the office, but more important than that, you respect my friends and your friends who rest here”. And I talked about Tom Metzger whose grave is not far from the amphitheater. And I talked about his daughter. And I talked about some other people who are buried there that I said, “Do not you by your actions here today, do not you dare dishonor them.” And they were pretty good. They behaved themselves. And if they would not have, I would have kicked their butts. And I think they knew that too. But I the President of the United States is a different case. I think you have to suspend judgment because of the office, whether you like the guy who is in it or not. And I do not know what Bill Clinton did. I do not think anybody knows what Bill Clinton did except Bill Clinton. If you want to forgive, you ought to confess, I believe that is the way the Catholics deal with it.

SM: I think when he came there, I wrote an article for The Philadelphia Inquirer. They did not print it. But it was printed it on our campus. And it was basically saying that the wall was the was the step toward healing from the Vietnam War, but I felt I called the visit like the next step. There may have been a lot of veterans that were against him. But when he came to the Vietnam Memorial, I know they were expecting a lot of people to be protesting him. And but there were not that many really, when you look at the numbers that were there, according to- I was not there. That is my shirt come in the next year. Look to me, like there were very few. And there were placards up there. There were more than-

JG: I was sitting right down there in the VIP seats.

SM: So, there were more than the 200 that they say there were?

JG: They had them walled off way up the hill.

SM: Okay.
JG: Behind the fence. And, and they were raising the hell. I do not know how many there were, but it sounded like a lot to me. Because I could not, even from that distance. You could hear them chanting, you could hear them screaming. You could hear them hollering. You could hear them taking on an unfamiliar role for them being a protestor.

SM: That again, goes back to the old business of having a hard time forgiving and forgetting.

JG: Yeah.

SM: And-and the wall is supposed to be a place of healing. Nonpolitical, yet there is a political statement being made right there.

JG: Yeah. Sorry. Life is like that.

SM: When you look at the Boomers and I got just some general questions, when you look at the Boomer generation, what do you see as their most positive qualities and their most negative qualities? Now you are, you are a couple of years before Jack Smith, I remember when I interviewed him. He is one year older than- But I have never put up a timeframe on Boomers. Because many of the leaders of the protest movement were older graduate students in their late 20s when college students were just coming there at 18, 19. But from your own personal perspective, when you look at the (19)60s and the (19)70s, and the attacks being made in America, what-what are the positive qualities of the young people of that era and one of the negative qualities in your eyes?

JG: Well, for whatever motive they question. If they ask hard questions, I respect that. They, earlier than most Americans got a quick feel that they were being lied to by their government, by their president. They knew how to raise hell to get attention to what it was-was their cause. All of these are positive things in my view, the government should be looked at with great suspicious of them as they were of Lyndon Johnson. So that is the positive. The negative. Well, I carried the questioning onto lengths and depths maybe they should not have crossed. Anything that opens the country to an epidemic of casual dope use casual sex, casual calls for overthrowing the system and revolution. I think those are all negatives.

SM: Of course, the overthrowing of-

JG: And my question would be where the fuck did their revolution go? When the draft ended, juice went out of the movement. And a revolution went down the whole.

SM: Well, the Boomers always used to- a lot them used to saying college campuses at that timeframe- Of course, I cannot always preface this on college campuses. Because over half of the young people in America, that era did not even go to college. So, we kind of tend to have a tendency at times to just concentrate on what was happening in the schools, and not really investigate what has happened to the other half of the Boomer generation that never attended college. But it is no question that the issues, the issues are what drew students to protest, and that the passion toward those issues, but when the war ended, the Boomers aged. Are they like any other generation? Because Boomers used to say that-

JG: Forever.

SM: “We are, we are the most unique generation in American history. Number one, we are going to change the world.” And thirdly, a slogan of that period was it was a very famous Peter Max poster, “You do your thing, I will do mine. If by chance we should come together, it will be beautiful.” So, there was that mentality of doing their own thing and, and whatever cause it might be. And the goal would be, hopefully to work together on solving issues. But-

JG: I, you know, if I am going to fault them for something is that they tend not to clean up the books. You know, they leave a lot of accounts open, things that yesterday they were willing to die for, or at least be uncomfortable for. And when it is done, they do not balance the books. They do not stop and look and say, “Wow, you know, these agrarian reformers that we supported in Cambodia have turned out to be some of the greatest butchers in the history of the world.” Who is protesting? I heard a little bit out of Joan Baez, and that was it. And she was essentially walled off from her whole generation as a consequence. And I have had this argument with, with Boomers before I said, “Where the hell is Jane Fonda?” You have got 3 million dead people. You got bones piled to the ceiling in Cambodia. Where is Jane? Where is Tom? Where-where are the people who cared so much for life. Now, it is all happening in a vacuum because they do not care. They moved on to something else.

SM: I think Tom Hayden still living his life the way-. He is kind of- he has been in politics out of California. And he is kind of still working hard on the environment and still living as he always did. Although he is very Jane Fonda. What a combination. Has your opinion changed over the last 25 years? When you when you came back in 19? Well, when you were there in (19)65, and then of course, you were over in Europe as a reporter, have you changed your attitudes toward the Boomer generation over that 25-year period? Where have you been pretty consistent in your thoughts on them?

JG: Fairly consistent. I was a little surprised when they all turned up as lawyers and stockbrokers, driving Volvo's doing the consumer thing. But I guess that is normal. I guess that is a normal progression. But the question is-is that I have had I have had from very early on, and they are still not answered. So no, I have not I have not changed my opinion.

SM: And those questions are again.

JG: Where is your revolution? What have you done in this world? You are now turning 50? What have you what have- what is your impact beside the impending bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare? Where have you left your mark? How have you changed the world? Where- how have you done all those things that you have demonstrated for or demanded? Where is the, where is the beef?

SM: Would not you say to that, it might be kind of early to say where is the beef? Boomers are just turning 50. And, and this is the time now where they could be leaders the next 10-15 years. So, it is kind of difficult to evaluate them at this juncture. It is a little too early. Would not you say? You are-

JG: 50, you are getting near the end of the game. You better have a few scouts on your belt, or you are not much of a warrior. You know, this is what they say in the financial planning business. It is time to get serious. Boy, you are going to retire here before long. What have you done? What have you done?

SM: When you look at the, you know, because you cannot talk about 60 million people just like you cannot talk about all Vietnam veterans. But are there examples of Boomers that you know, who have lived a lifetime of commitment toward a variety of issues? And just as they were when they were 20. They are still doing it at 50.

JG: Yeah, I would say there are. They have to be out there. I have met some of them. I think like all of us, their-their perspectives have changed. Maybe their causes have changed some.

SM: I am going to ask a question about trust. When I had a conversation with Senator Muskie, about five years ago, when I took students to Washington, and during the conversation, we were talking about the (19)68 Convention. And at that juncture, I brought up a question about the lack of trust that young people at that time had in people like him, vice presidential running mate, United States senator, you name it. And I wanted him to respond to that. Because I think a lot of people in my generation still do not trust because of what the government did during the Vietnam War. Certainly, the Watergate, everybody knows about Watergate, but the lack of trust, and we see it even amongst the Boomers who do not even vote. Boomers do not vote, and their children do not vote. And a lack of trust and authority already because they were lied to in many respects during the Vietnam War and the-the enemies list that Nixon- all these things have added up and kind of left a psychological imprint into the minds of many of the Boomers not to trust or to ever trust. What is your commentary with respect to that issue of trust am I right on when I am talking about that, and the effect it has had on this generation? And is that, is that one of the lasting effects of those people born between (19)46 and (19)64? Because they went through these experiences they cannot trust and thus they carry that out of their kids, and they do not trust leaders as well.

JG: I would you know. The strange thing is-is that it is, it is those lower middle class, and lower-class kids who were drafted and shipped first to Vietnam to fight and die, who ought to have less trust in situation than almost anyone, and yet maybe they have more. They still send their children to the army. None of the others do. The army is as a volunteer force, even more isolated than it was as a draftee force by far. Recruitment is all from probably seven Southern states, 80-90 percent of it.

SM: Oh really?

JG: Sure. Who sends their kids to the army? There is an economic force and there is, to a lesser extent, sort of familial pressure, there is a 30 percent of them are black. So, there is an economic thing. And there is also the fact that, that, surprisingly, the army may have the most level playing field in American society. If you are a person of color, you go in and if you can meet the standards, you get promoted. So those people who probably have less reason than anybody else to trust-

SM: Trust more.

JG: Still trust their children, in the hands of the army in the hands of government, if you will, in the hands of Bill Clinton, who uses the army more readily than any president I have ever known.

SM: That is an interesting observation. Because-

JG: Wh-What has happened? The peaceniks are shipping armies. This guy moves, troops at the drop of a hat. It is almost like he does not know that a military course is the last card you play, not the first card. He also does not seem to understand when he was standing out in front of the embassy in London, demonstrating because we were trying to be the world's policeman, what the hell is he doing now? We have an army that is a 911 reaction force. You call we haul? You got someone starving in Rwanda, being killed in the millions by their own government? Hey, we will go fix it. You got a problem in Bosnia? We will send 20,000 American soldiers in there. That is because there is nobody on Capitol Hill. There is nobody in the upper half of your generation, who has a kid in that in that force.

SM: It is true.

JG: I do not even know someone who has a kid in that force. If-if war starts tomorrow, there are precisely two people in the US news and world report building who have ever heard a shot fired in anger, and I am half of that force. And the other is a guy who was out in LA who was a grunt.

SM: Oh, my goodness. How many people were in there?

JG: Well, there is 130 or 40, editorial side people. But hey, they come out of a different place. They come out of the elite. So, I, you know, basically, their right to be suspicious. Are they right to turn their back on democracy as a system? I doubt that. I would say they are very wrong on that. You know, you have a duty to vote. You have an obligation. It is the simple obligation of citizenship. You live and the freest country on the face of this earth. I think you also have an obligation to defend it, but we will leave that aside. You at least have a minimal obligation to care about who governs it. How it is governed and go down and vote. If you do not do that, you are not much of a citizen are you?

SM: You are not, definitely. I have seen that amongst college students today. Statistics show that only 18.5 percent of today's young people in entering classes over the last three years have any interest toward being involved in politics, but over 85 percent of them have been involved in some sort of volunteer activity. Now, I am asking myself, and I will ask you the same thing. Is this a sign that students do not feel empowered that their vote does not count that they cannot make a difference? number one, but they feel they can influence other people's lives with their volunteer activity. So, like, an interesting, they can help others. But they are really not feeling empowered to help themselves.

JG: I do not know the answer to that, I do not know what moves there- they, you know, we are talking, we are sitting here, you and I talking about the Boomers. And, and I can kind of get a fix on them. But I have not got a clue when it comes to the one below them, generation and generation X, whatever you want to call them, you know, these are, these are, this is, this is the generation that-that that is non literate, is the word I am reaching for. But that is not quite it. They are, you know, they do not read books. They are- their information is absorbed visually-

SM: Fast and sweet.

JG: Fast, quick. It is computers, it is TV, it is the sort of stuff, and they are not readers. And I do not understand anyone who is not a reader, because it is, it is the very basis of my life. I fell onto it at an early age and-and I have devoured books constantly since then, and it is amazing how far ahead of you they can stay the publishing industry. And now I write books. And I do not know who is going to read them in another 20 years.

SM: Well, I know that we have computer ages upon us, and in terms of preparing for the future, young people know that they got to be schooling computers, or they are not going to be able to have a decent job, a decent salary, raise a family, you name it. Two good books I would like to recommend for again, in the next question, have you had a chance to read Our War, which is David Harris new book.

JG: No.

SM: It is a very good book, for Steven Harris was a protester at Stanford, and went, went to jail for protesting against the war. He was sent to jail for refusing to serve, right. You read the draft; he refused any [crosstalk].

JG: A guy that stood up, standup guy. I am not going to go do what I think is wrong. And I am willing to pay the price. I got all the respect in the world, like them as much as I do.

SM: He was in jail, two years, two plus years. I think.

JG: Good. That was where he should have been. That was where all the rest of them should have been too.

SM: Schlesinger has written a book called The Noble Land, which is a very good book, James Schlesinger. Oh, excuse me, James Michener. He has written a brand-new book, This Noble Land, and it is reflecting his 93 years on this earth and talking about the problems of American. It is a good book.

JG: I will give you a good one that that if you have not read, you should, and it is The Living and The Dead. Robert S. McNamara and Five Lives of Lost World.

SM: I saw him on footnotes. I have not read the book. Yes.

JG: Just a splendid book. It is a splendid book.

SM: There is a person who was touched by the war, who did not serve.

JG: Yeah. Well, he is a young guy.

SM: I think he is in his early 40s. I am going to mention a few names here of people that were well known to all boomers in America at the time in the late (19)60s and early (19)70s. And I just like to have your comments on them as a person from your own perception and maybe their impact on history, if there is such a thing. I got about 20 different names here and we will be short and sweet. Your perceptions of people like Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda.

JG: You would start with the word the top, the top dogs there. Well, Miss Fonda is an accomplished actress. Mr. Hayden is a pretty good, far left politician in California on local issues. And I do not have a lot of respect for either one of them for the simple reason that they are prime among those who have not balanced the books. When she issued an apology to the “veterans” that was no apology. It was a politician's apology. If I have offended someone, I apologize only because I have offended them not because I did anything wrong.

SM: What year did you do that?

JG: Four or five years ago, five or six, the VFW was breathing down her neck and-and she issued a statement. That was ingenious, disingenuous. disingenuous all of those things and did not apologize to anybody.

SM: I tried to get an interview with her in Atlanta and she rejected an interview.

JG: I am sure she did. She has made known to be a housewife.

SM: Then second would be Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.

JG: Clown princess. The great court has to have some gestures and they were in.

SM: Dr. Benjamin Spock.

JG: Well, Spock raised them. He wrote the book. Ask him if he is happy. The way they turned out. How did his kids turn out? I do not know.

SM: He has written a brand-new book. He is not too happy with some of the boomers. He is reevaluating-

JG: Who is he blamed? Their mamas did not read his book, right?

SM: The Barragan brothers, the two Catholic priests who are.

JG: Very principled men. They never wavered in their convictions. They were willing, like Harris to go to jail. And did. All I ask is that you be a standup guy, that you make a decision based on your consideration of the evidence, the preponderance of the weight of evidence and stand up and say your peace. And if in the saying of it, you must violate a law then be willing to take the punishment for it.

SM: It is almost like the same thing that Dr. King was professing during the nonviolent protests. He could not understand why people would not be willing to go to jail for protesting he was, and others said “I do not want to go to jail.” But that is part of being a nonviolent protester.

JG: I spent three years covering the last days of the Soviet Empire. And it was evil. Reagan got one thing, right. It was an evil empire. I covered the trials of Anatoly Sharansky and Ginsberg and guys like this, and I saw them stand up in the face of certain destruction, and yet clinging to a principle stand there and defy the weight of the most awful dictatorship operating on the face of this earth. And they brought tears to my eyes with their statements. Sharansky’s statement, he was convicted in this kangaroo court, without evidence without anything, he was just convicted. And they asked him made a terrible mistake. They said, “Do you have anything to say?” And we were not allowed in. His brother was there, committing to memory, the words that Anatoly Sharansky was saying to these people, and he walked out and spilled it. And he was crying, and we were crying. And it was it was this is my definition of a standup guy. If more people had done that, the dictatorship would have fallen a lot sooner.

SM: It is almost like getting back to the Vietnam War in terms of the healing. If there is more of an accountability right now on the part of those who did not serve, where they would be up front of and it is not like Jane Fonda, but they were upfront as to watch. And at the same time, show praise for those who did there could be even a greater healing here in America.

JG: Sure, you know, I mean, most of the Vietnam vets push to it will tell you “You did not go, you did not want to go. I did not want to go either. If I have been smarter, maybe I would have my folks had a little more money and could have kept me in college.” A lot of what ifs but essentially, there was not a lot to be learned in Vietnam from having gone. The only thing really to be learned there was the nobility of the guy in the hole next to you. The best people I ever met in my life; I feel sorry for people who did not go. Reporters and photographers. Sure. If you are my age, and you were not there, I look at you. And I wonder why. Did you ask to go? Did you try? Did you want to go but you could not get your boss to send you? That is one thing. But you were afraid of your life. And so, you did not go to the biggest story in the last half of our century. You did not go? This is, this is the movie of our generation. And when it happened, where were you? You were out buying popcorn or taking a pee? Where were you? Well, what did I get by going? The only the best friends of mine. The most loyal people that I know, guys, that if I made one phone call, would have a phone tree working like this. And if I needed 200 people out on my farm, for whatever purpose, they would be there tomorrow afternoon. And there are not too many people in this country that can say that.

SM: Not in 1996.

JG: When my wife died in January, and I took her home to Texas to bury her. And I was crushed. And I was standing in the family home, and I looked out the window and there stood a dozen Hispanic veterans in Vietnam. They heard they turned up. They had stood beside me before and they were there to stand.

SM: They care.

JG: They care. You want to know one other thing?

SM: Mm-hmm [affirmative].

JG: The United States Army, the 1st Cavalry Division and the 7th Cavalry Regiments and uniformed delegations to my wife's funeral. So, if you did not go, what you missed was that what you missed was the most important thing in life. And I am sorry, I can forgive you. But I cannot give you that. You got to earn that. Where were you standing? Who were you standing beside? If you are in the mood in the mob, can you make a call today and have 200 people turn up to help you? You would be lucky to get one. So that is how it is.

SM: The Lyndon Johnson. How about Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara together in there?

JG: No, let us take them separately. Lyndon Johnson, I mean, it is hard to talk about the man. It really is. There was so much right about him and so much wrong about him, all in the same skin. He was the biggest bundle of contradictions of anybody I have ever seen. He was a liar. He was the quintessence of a Texas dealmaker. He would sell his mama, if it got him what he wanted. He wanted a lot of very interesting things. He wanted an into segregation. He wanted a fair deal for poor Blacks or Hispanics. He wanted somehow to lift them up. But he did not understand the basics of it. He did not understand that you have got to give the guy the tools with which he can lift himself. If you are pulling him up, he does not learn anything, it does not. You know, the heart of this city in the heart of every city in America is a legacy. It is the legacy of Lyndon Baines Johnson and the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Hey, Nixon did not do that Anacostia, go over and take a look better have some door gunners.

SM: With those bad sections of town.

JG: Yeah. How would they get there? How come they are still sitting there? Where are they going? They got there because of Lyndon Johnson. Then that is the good part about it. The bad part is Vietnam. Where he started a war on the installment plan. “We will put a dollar on the table now and a dollar on the table tomorrow and $2 later, and we are going to defraud the American public. We know how many men we are going to send. But we are not going to tell them because they would not like it. We know how many billions upon billions of dollars we are going to spend. But we cannot trust them with that information, because then they will not vote for my programs in Congress, the Great Society programs. So, I am going to flim-flam then.” And nobody a better flim-flam artist than Lyndon Baines Johnson from Johnson City, Texas. So, what does he do? He sends divisions off to war to under strength. He knew early as November of 1965, that he was sending 500 to 600,000 Americans to Vietnam. And yet he could sit there and in his State of the Union speech in January of 1966 said, “We have no plans to increase the force.” He lied, he lied, he lied, and you go to hell for lying the same as you do for cheating and stealing. Robert McNamara-McNamara goes to the same lower level of hell that Lyndon Johnson goes to, and his sin is not only mendacity his sin is arrogance. He lied, he cheated, and he was proud of himself. This guy brought generals to their knees, whipped on them so hard they cried, and he did not have a clue what was going on, or how to make it change. He was a bean counter and he counted beans good.

SM: Body count, body count.

JG: Body count, every pernicious influence that Vietnam had tracks right to his fingers you know, I can almost forgive Lyndon Johnson just because he was at least entertaining. McNamara was not even entertaining. He was just evil.

SM: Bottom line, would you consider him just a bottom-line person?

JG: Oh, worse because the biggest bottom line of all he got wrong. What do you do if you if the-the accounting-accounting firm that is doing the books of Ford Motor Company or General Motors comes in? Wrong? What-what we do to him nothing? We gave him a nice fat job at the World Bank for 10 years. The son of a bitch that tried to throw him over the rail of the ferry boat to Martha's Vineyard. They should have left him go, okay. All he needed was another 10 seconds and old McNamara had been floating down there.

SM: That was in Hendrickson’s book, I believe.

JG: Yeah-yeah. There is a baby boomer who acted on his information and impulse and opportunity and more power to him.

SM: Couple other people, George Wallace.

JG: Well, on Wallace, another Southern politician, always far more complex than they appear to be on the surface of it. Doing stuff to get elected when they do not believe in it. Wallace, you know, came on like the biggest seg this country ever saw. And he was not that. He has got a whole lot of black friends and people are forgiving him right and left.

SM: What about Eugene McCarthy?

JG: McCarthy, white guy, smart guy, literate guy you know. The trouble politics in this country is if you want to want win, you got to get down in the mud with the pigs. And Gene McCarthy would not do that. Never did it. Well, he is neither did Adlai Stevenson, these kinds of cerebral guys do not usually win elections.

SM: What about George McGovern?

JG: McGovern, to me is the definition of one too many damn lawyers.

SM: But he was not a lawyer, though. He was a- he had a PhD in history.

JG: McGovern?

SM: Yes.

JG: Becoming lawyers around this town. He has gotten a law degree from somewhere.

SM: He is at the Middle East Studies Institute right now. That is where he is. But he got his PhD in South Dakota. He was just on our campus this past week, he was talking about his daughter, Terry, who died of alcoholism. And he got his PhD in history from University of South Dakota. They are building a library in his name right now there. Then he went off to Congress as, after he got his PhD. ran for office, was a congressman. Then he went on to become a senator. And so, he has, he has a PhD in History. Actually, no one ever calls him Dr. McGovern, because he is a senator, but he was a doctorate.

JG: Damn, I thought he was a lawyer. Sure looks like one.

SM: He is a pretty nice guy.
JG: Well, I have to give him a pass on being a lawyer then.

SM: Some of the other people from that era, Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

JG: Once again, you are putting two guys together that ought to be considered separately. But Martin Luther King, the greatest orator or this country ever had. Spoken beautifully, thought beautifully. I wonder, what do you would think of the situation today? I wonder what Dr. King would think of Mayor Marion Berry. I wonder what he would think of a generation of black politicians who are the most pernicious influence [audio cuts]

SM: Dr. King?

JG: I wondered what Dr. King would think of a generation of his disciples who are now Black political leaders in the cities of our country. People like Mayor Marion berry of Washington, DC. And when I say they are political leaders, I am on being very kind. People like Barry and the Blacks who administer this city, are more pernicious influence in the lives of the poor Black people of this city than anything else I can think of. How does this come to be? How do the sons of Martin Luther King wind up wheeling and dealing and selling their own people down the river? In this city, there are about 90,000 people on a waiting list for public housing. And the waiting list is years long. There are at any given moment 30 to 40,000, empty public housing units, that this administration cannot manage to quit stealing the money long enough to fix so that those units can be put back in service. They are either so corrupt or so inefficient, or both, that they cannot do a simple job like fixing apartments so that poor woman and all our kids has a place to live. Now who are they hurting? Who are they hurting the most? They do not hurt me. They do not hurt you. They are hurting that woman and her kids. I think Dr. King would condemn them all to a hell they richly deserved and in ringing tones.

SM: And these are boomer African American leaders that are around the city now.

SM: You got it.

JG: I do not know Marion Barry, but I am disappointed in him though.

JG: Well, you have got a situation where they have to declare, essentially declare the District of Columbia School System, bankrupt, where they take it over and put one of my best friends as the CEO, General Julius Becton, find soldier. So, nowhere near a boomer generation, the man is 70 years old, joined the army in 1945, was a company commander in Korea was a battalion commander in the 101st airborne in Vietnam, who was fixed stuff, all his life. He is a builder. And they got to reach out and pull this man out of a richly deserved retirement to take on what is arguably the worst job in America.

SM: This gets off my questions. I will get back to the names again, we will talk about Malcolm X. You said a builder, this man who is coming into the city as a builder. When you look at the boomers, now you are talking about some of the African American leaders here in this city? Are boomers’ builders? Are they the people that bring people together to unite for a cause for the betterment of society? That is very generalistic terms? But though, that was the mentality on the college campuses, and we are going to-

JG: That was what they set out to be, but they did not end up that. They set out with ringing calls for change and revolution. And they do not even make good caretakers.

SM: Look at the life of Malcolm X, what are your thoughts on him?

JG: I do not think much about Malcolm X. I do not know that he was much of a force for good for his people. If his legacy is-is the guy out in Chicago now. If that is his legacy, what is it worth? A man who divides conquered by division.

SM: At the end of his life, though, a lot of young people, they look at his life as a person who changed because everybody knows that Malcolm was at one time in jail. He was a pimp. Of course, he was a follower, and he was also actually white men are devils that type of mentality. But then the last part of his life he changed when he went to Mecca, so some people look at that life as a person who liked change and he saw the good in everyone as opposed to just-just in black people.

JG: What did it get him?

SM: Got him killed. That was what it got. So, well, a couple of other people here and I have got I have got so many on the list, but these are kind of people from the era.

JG: Keep rolling.

SM: Ralph Nader. These are all names the boomers talk, and this is part of their life. These people were part of their life.

JG: Nader is quixote, I guess, still tilting at windmills? He has been consistent. The Soviets always admired consistency. They said, you know, “We do not care what you are as long as you are consistently that. We have a hard time shifting our view you know, so if you are, you are a son of a bitch as long as you are consistently a son of a bitch we can, we can live with you. It is when you-you bounce from side-to-side.” Nader is consistent. I do not know what his ultimate [inaudible]. He balanced the books on him at the end of his life, what he will have achieved in the long run.

SM: What about the people that were the musicians of the era? Certainly, even in Vietnam and music was played over there. People that have the generation, the Bob Dylan the Jimmy Hendrix, The Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, you name it the list go on and on. What-what are your thoughts about those people who performed the music delivered the messages. I know Country Joe and the Fish, boy, is he unbelievable. You know, when he came to Vietnam memorial, a couple of years back and he performed at the top of the wall and you probably there that day and-and I want to interview him, I am going out to California in the summer. And I want to interview him out at Berkeley because I think he has got an awful lot to say. Have you got his Vietnam album too?

JG: no.

JG: Oh, it is beautiful. He actually wrote a whole album on Vietnam. He has beautiful music and I think he did in the last four years. It is all music for the last four years. What are your What are your thoughts on them?

JG: Well, that is the soundtrack of our generation. That was the music that we heard in Vietnam, it was the same music that was heard in the streets here. Music and Musicians are a powerful force. Almost, I should say, as powerful as poets. Not quite, but almost, you know, the older I get, when I want to find truth, I look in the volumes of poetry not in the volumes of history. So, the musicians, they are out there. When I look at them, it is with a certain amount of sadness. Because so many of them burned their lives out so quickly on drugs. Their messages were mixed. They took their own advice too often and-and it killed a lot of them.

SM: Phil Ochs killed himself. Yeah. So, upset. He is disappointed in life, and he just did himself in.

JG: And that should not be, you know, the bar, just the poet's the musicians, they should be our optimists. They should be giving us a message that allows us to go forward, carry on. If they cannot find in their own music, hope what is there-

SM: If you think about, I do not think there has really been anything written on the musicians in depth, individual books, but looking at the musicians and their impact that time. It is just a couple other ones and that is Daniel Ellsberg.

JG: Ellsberg certainly performed a great service by leaking the Pentagon papers, documentary evidence of the lies that had been told of the bankrupted policy of which he was one of the architects. So, his one great act, was an act of leakage.

SM: Of course, Richard Nixon.

JG: Ah now, Nixon is such a complex man. He is one that I have a hard time forgiving. At least as hard as time as I do McNamara. This is the man who came to office to end the war and yet another 20-25,000 men died while he played politics, he and Kissinger, they all end up in the same level of hell with McNamara and Johnson. They really do. Their whatever contributions they made are so outweighed by the evil that they did.

SM: Do you feel that strongly about Kissinger too?

JG: Yeah, oh, more so with Kissinger. Kissinger was so smart. And then, and yet he would sacrifice anything for his own ambition for His own glory. I think about I really, when I went to Indonesia, the ambassador there was a man named Marshall Green, who had been in the Foreign Service all his life. A very honorable, decent man. He started his career in in the Embassy in Tokyo before on the eve of World War II. And he was the assistant secretary for Far East affairs, the year that Nixon and Kissinger decided to begin the secret bombing campaign and in Cambodia and to do the invasion-

SM: That was 1970, yeah, April 30th.

JG: Yeah. And they ran it by him. Sort of pro forma, you know, and he argued with, he said, “No.” He said, “This is wrong. This will achieve no purpose, except to destroy the Cambodian people. It will not alter the end of the Vietnam War in any measurable fashion, not by one day, not by one body. And it will not make the difference between winning and losing. It will be gratuitous offense against a bunch of people who are kind of a sideshow, they are out of it. Do not do it.” And they said, “Fine, Mr. Secretary, your objections are noted, we are going ahead.” And he said, “Wait a minute, maybe I have not been eloquent enough.” And he argued with them. And they said, “Okay, you have had your say, shut up.” And he went back and argued again, at which point they fired him. They made him the ambassador to Australia and made and finished his career as the ambassador to the World Population Planning Council. They destroyed a man, they destroyed millions of men, by their acts. Where do you find forgiveness for this? Where do you find a little wiggle room for a man like Kissinger or Nixon?

SM: It is amazing through the actions of all these politicians. And the effect they had on the young people who were growing up at that time, not only veterans who fought in that war, and everybody who lived in saw the war was run was against the war. And, of course, the Civil Rights Movement was going on at that time, too, so cannot forget about that. But the lasting psychological impact of this has had on us as a nation as well as Senator Gaylord Nelson said, the body politic. And he said, I interviewed Gaylord Nelson, who was against the Vietnam War, one of the first senators and he said “He does not know anybody who walks around with lack of healing on their sleeve was a boomer about the Vietnam War. But he did say that that war destroyed the body politic. And it has never been the same sense.

JG: It has not, quite right. You know, if you have to go back in our history, the only other event as-as divisive and corrosive to the American way of governing and being governed the body politic, as the senator said, you go to the Civil War, and there is the same depth of division, anger and bitterness in Vietnam than there was in that. Excuse me. And I do not know, you still get in a pretty good fistfight down the south over the Civil War. And we are 120 years past it. So how long does Vietnam last? How long is it an influence in the life of this country? You know, it could be long past, our lifetimes, our lifespans, and probably will be. I participated in the making of a documentary film. We took a dozen Vietnam veterans back to Vietnam and walked our battlefield in the company.

SM: I saw that.

JG: The man who tried to kill us, but when they were doing in studio interviews, I met [inaudible] daughter was one of the people carrying [inaudible]. And she gave the story of her father and what his death in battle did to her life. And at some point, Forrest Sawyer said, “Well, the book has been written, it is this close the circle.” And she looked at him like he was crazy. She said, “The story is not over. It is not over as long as I draw breath. That war killed my father when I was 17 months old, and it will not be over for me during all my life, nor will it be over during the lives of my children. So how long do we reach out? How long does it go?

SM: Last name I have here is actually two of them. Your thoughts on Spiro Agnew and what he was doing back here as the vice president and Gerald Ford, the partner.

JG: Oh, Agnew. He was he was such an inconsequential person. You know, I do not even think about it. He just does not matter. He did not matter, then he does not matter now. He was not even a good puppet. Who else was it that you asked about?

SM: Gerald Ford.

JG: You asked Gerald Ford, Gerald Ford. You know? I thought Gerald Ford was good man. I thought he was probably the right guy to be the caretaker president after Nixon. I wish he had not given out any pardons. I think Nixon, Kissinger should have been in a cell right down the road from John Mitchell and the rest of those guys. But you know, there was a cartoon that somebody good drew the day that Ford left office. And it was maybe Herb Block, I do not know. But it was very interesting. What he did was he had Ford up a ladder cleaning the seal of the President of the United States wearing a painter's hat. And when he started this, he was encrusted with filth and grime and-and it had him finishing up it was, it was back in shape. It was looking pretty good. And I thought that was a pretty fair, pretty fair estimate. You know, you can just as you cannot say anything about Spiro Agnew, because he was inconsequential. You cannot really say much bad about Jerry Ford. He was decent.

SM: He was a bad golfer.

JG: He was a bad golfer, but a decent man, a decent human being. And have we had a Spiro Agnew as the successor to Nixon? I am not sure that we would be sitting in the United States of America, the place might have come a fight.

SM: It would have, they hated him on college campuses. With one quick question here today, two the interview, the Vietnam War ended. Why?

JG: Why did it end?

SM: Yeah, why did the Vietnam war end?

JG: Because the American people had had it right up to their epiglottis. They had it with the coffins coming home. They had had it with the lies of the politicians they had it with the body count. Hey, we won. Because we killed 10 of them for every American, they killed. It is not a bargain; the American people knew. They knew it was not a bargain. And-and they wanted, they wanted it stopped. Not for what the kids were doing in the streets but for what that war was doing to our country. It stopped because the American people stopped it. They did not want it anymore.

SM: There are two or two or three issues that define a generation. Boomers, I think historically will always be attached to the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, even though the Civil Rights Movement was really strong in the (19)50s and the early (19)60s.

JG: Yeah, exactly. I would say-

SM: And actually-

JG: They had less to do with the Civil Rights Movement. What that was, that was a-

SM: Is not it interesting though, that a lot of movements came about at the time of the Vietnam War, the Women's Movement came about at that time. Of course, the whole you know, what happened about the Vietnam Memorial now. We have got the nurses being recognized at the wall. There were so many, I mean, the Native American Movement, the Hispanic Movement, there were so many movements happening all at the same time. And they were all protesting against what was going on in America. But it is like- that protest mentality really came about because of the Vietnam War and a few of the things that were happening on college campus respect to administration and not being allowed to do political activities on campus. So, there were some things in school too. But what is the lasting legacy? What do you think the lasting legacy will be of the boomer generation who are now reaching 50? Do not forget, they are, they are 50 years old, or from 34 to 50 right now.

JG: Yeah, well, there is still time for him to get their shit together. There is still time for them to leave some kind of legacy dividends for the stockholders of the Volvo Motor Company you know, I read the financial papers and I see them talking about “Well, the Boomers did not, have not saved any money but that is okay. Because their mamas and daddies are dying now. And they are inheriting their money.” And thank God their mamas and daddies did save. Is thisthis what you are going to say at the end? Well, they-they inherited some money. So, they were able to live okay. Even though Social Security went down the tubes and so did Medicare. You know, they got to get their shit together and get to work and fulfill some of their promises. You want to you know, it. I am 55 now. And for the last five, six years, my thoughts have really turned to trying to leave a legacy of a little better world for my sons who are 16 and 18. I would really like them to inherit a kinder, gentler world. And I pray every day that they will never know war as I have known it. That they will never see a young man dying in their arms as I have and see the life flow out of him, and you are helpless to do anything. I do not want that for them. I do not want that for any son and any daughter in this country. So, you know, what I guess I am saying is that- very good friend of mine died about three years ago, a guy named B. T. Collins. He was a California politician. He had been Jerry Brown's Chief of Staff. He was Pete Wilson's great friend. Now if you can do those two things. He was also a double amputee, lost a leg and an arm in Vietnam with Special Forces. Had his 100 percent disability pension. He could have walked out of Valley Forge Hospital, a bitter-bitter man and never contributed anything. Instead, he went off to law school and spent what was left of his life really, working harder than any three men I knew toward healing the body politic. Toward helping the helpless toward making the system work. Now nothing wrong with that. Nothing to say that the boomers cannot do that. In fact, what I am saying is that they should, and they ought and if they want to leave a legacy somewhere beyond that is something more than the headlines, sex, drugs and rock and roll, then they got to bend down and do it. They picked up somewhere along the way a reputation for selfishness. And it started at the beginning. They were too good to go fight in this war. That was the work of poor people, the children of poor people and the disadvantaged. We have a president in the White House today said” I will not risk my viability as a politician in the future by going to Vietnam where I might get killed.” So, we have them, the worst of the yuppie movement. And it was pernicious and is. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” These are not legacies. These are things to overcome. And I do not mean get out there and hug trees. I mean, get out there and do something for people.

SM: Good point because we talked about the yuppies. They live in certain sections of cities, a lot of them are boomers. Yeah, one of the basic premises, if I remember correctly, and when I was in college, “Money does not matter.” I heard that over and over again, it is not about money. It is not about it yet.

JG: And there they are.

JG: Yeah, some of them are still “Money is not meant anything to me. I have stayed in higher education my whole life, because-because of what happened.”

JG: Good thing it does not mean anything to you.

SM: Yeah.

JG: Yeah.

SM: But I am guilty. We had Congressman Penny on our campus. And he said that “The boomers just do not save.” And he said, “You know, something, Steve?” He said that “ I have not saved either.” Remember, Congressman Penny, you left a couple of years ago, a Democrat from Minnesota. He, he is not poor by any means. But I am saying he is raising five kids. And he says, “I am just part of the legacy. I do not save either.” And so, there is some truth to that. Nope, they do not save.

JG: They do not save.

SM: As if there is no tomorrow. And I do not know if that says something about the boomers that “I am going to live for today. Because there is no tomorrow,” I do not know. So.

JG: Well, then you get to be over 50. You better rethink your position.

SM: The last question, I am going to ask then we will be finished here. I might go over into the next little section here in the tape, that is getting back to the wall. In 1982, I think it was (19)82 for the opening? Are you pleased with what the wall has done for America? Not the Vietnam veterans now what it has done for America as a whole? Because it is pretty well known fact that anybody who comes to that wall, whether they were in the war, family members of someone who served in that war, or someone who died in that war, or someone who remembers their college experience during that war, or if they were working in a factory during the war, and did not go to college, all those flashbacks of where I was, come back, and then then the little kids are right there. And they say to their dad or mom, “Dad, what did you do?” Kids will always ask those kinds of questions. And I am wondering that-that is what it means to me. I have to keep going back because when I was a college student, you know, I guess there might be some sort of guilt that I wish I had served, but I could not serve because I had a severe asthma. And, and it was 1970. And I was in the hospital during the Cambodia invasion. I was graduating in 1970 at State University in New York at Binghamton. And I broke my arm and it was a very serious arm break, and I almost had it amputated and I was in the operating room for five hours, about two weeks before graduation. And everybody in my whole family was in the hospital and the Cambodian invasion was happening, April 30. That was April 30, 1970. I was in the hospital for two straight weeks, two days before I went under graduation. It was a magic moment for me, because the doctor who came in and after he had operated and saved my arms. And he said, “I wish they would shoot all those damn kids; I wish they would kill them all.” And I said, “As a college senior, who saw the tremendous divisions in America, I want to do something in my own small way to bring people back together again. So, I get real emotional about the Vietnam War, even though I did not serve because I care about Vietnam veterans. I have been working with them in Philadelphia since 1983. So, when I worked with him on the wall in Philadelphia, and we help raise money, it is a long story. But I wanted to do something in my own small way. As I said this to Jan once too. And I really said it to Lewis, when we took our students to the wall, to try to do the next phase to assist the process that began at the wall. And that is to write some sort of a book about this very complex era, in this very complex time. Pick some of the best people in America and ask them the tough questions and just let them reveal so that we can kind of heal as a nation, even beyond the Vietnam veterans. And I actually have an ultimate goal beyond this. The ultimate goal is I have been thinking that I may even go to Oliver Stone because I know Robert Groden, who was a consultant with the movie JFK, to get financial backing to bring to the university campuses of America and maybe to the town halls of America in two years, symposiums over a nine-month period, one per period, bringing back those who were for and against the war, people who serve in the war, just to try to bring them together to try to understand. Almost like the Jimmy Carter concept when he does have the Carter Center to bring the sides back. Just do something to help and assist. And I always quote in my own small way. So, my final question is-is this such an effort worthy of the effort number one? And just your overall thoughts, again, the overall impact that the wall has had on America beyond the veterans, because I know what-what the effect is had on the veterans?

JG: Well, it reaches far beyond the veterans for the simple reason that that I saw someone did an estimate that there are 40 million Americans who have some personal connection to a name in the wall. They were a college classmate, or-

SM: Me, too.

JG: They were a high school classmate, or you know, an in law, a sibling, whatever. 40 million Americans care about at least one of those names on that wall. So, they care about all of them. And what has its impact. The other thing that is operating there, and operated, you know, when they were doing the welcome home parades for the Gulf veterans, and they went far overboard and out of proportion in doing this, and I, you know, a lot of my friends called up and said, “I think I am angry about this.” And I said, “Do not do that. Because what they are doing is they are overcompensating because they did nothing for you. So, this is as much for you as it is for them. And so, you go on down to the parade. And, and you watch because this is America saying 20 years too late. Welcome home all of you. Welcome Home Vietnam veterans too.” And that was the way it worked in the parades. The young troops would reach and pull the veterans off of the curbs and into the parade. So, my counsel was “Let go of the bitterness, it is misplaced. The American people know what they did not do. And they are ashamed of it”. And the thing is where we come to, is that here we have a country where only three million win. And today, I would bet you that out there in the land, there are 10 million wannabes who are pretending that they did go.

SM: Really?

JG: What does this say?

SM: There are those types of people that say they are a veteran.

JG: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Any number of them. We detect them all the time. And then-

SM: That is the worst.

JG: That is, in our view, imitation is not any sincere form of flattery, but-but here today in this country, there are a lot of people who pretend to be Vietnam veterans. Now, this is not a sea change of attitude. I do not know what is.

SM: I had never heard that before.

JG: Oh, there are guys who specialize in debunking these frauds. And they turn up in amazing places, not a federal judge, but a high-ranking judge in Chicago, was presenting himself as a Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient and got an AO.

SM: People do not speak-

JG: The publisher of The Arizona Republic, Dan Quayle’s family newspaper, presented himself as a Vietnam veteran fighter pilot. False, got caught, got fired.

SM: Put it on the resume and the whole-
JG: Yeah.

SM: Oh my goodness.

JG: Yeah, politicians do it all the time. But worse, yet you have the guys who put on the kameez and put on medals to which they are not entitled, and-and go around presenting themselves and their opinions as those of Vietnam veterans. But what a distance we have come.

SM: Gosh. Yeah.

JG: To put Vietnam veteran on your resume would have been a guarantee 20 years ago-

SM: No job.

JG: That you were not going to get that job.

SM: That is amazing. Yeah, I just go to the wall. I have gone now seven times. And I call Jan's office and I get the pass. I take students there now. I am probably going to take some students there on Memorial Day, this next year, because we graduate late, I took three to Veterans Day last year. And I took students to meet-

JG: You have got to watch them. They have got a lot of frauds down there.

SM: Oh, at the, at the ceremonies themselves?

JG: Oh yeah, the wall. A couple of- three years ago, up turns a young lady, quite striking and attractive, who said that she was the daughter of Oliver Stone’s Sergeant Elias. And Sergeant Elias’s name is indeed on the wall. And she came to a meeting of the sons and daughters, the organization for children of men who were killed in Vietnam. Told her long and sad story and went down to the wall and full Apache regalia and did the burning of the feathers and all of this crap and-and I think she even made it onto the platform the year, the year after, and then shortly thereafter, it was discovered that the whole tale was just that, a tale.

SM: Oh my God.
JG: So, this is one more strange story in a town full of them.

SM: My goodness. I see a lot of people there every year. It is packed every year. I see the people talking, "Where did you serve," and everything. And they ask me. And everybody asks every time I sit there, except when I was with the students, they knew I brought students. And I said, "I did not serve." But I know back in 1983, when I first came to Philadelphia from California because I worked out there at another university, that I got to know the Vietnam veterans. Because we were going to do a program on the posttraumatic stress disorder with Dr. Harry Schwartz, who was at Jefferson Medical School. And I got to know Harry Gaffney and Dan Fraley, and Dennis Best, some of the Vietnam veterans are well known in Philadelphia who did the markings. And Harry said, "Steve, I am going to tell you right now, you are not one of us." But you have to gain the trust of the Vietnam Veterans. So, all the people that I invited, I met with 20 of the top Vietnam veterans, Wally Nunn, CEO in Philadelphia who was close to, I forget who it is, Mayor Rendell, whatever. But I had to be very open and at the outset, that I did not serve, and I told them why. And they said that was very important, first, to be honest, and open, and upfront about it. And then, the second thing is to try to put this program together and to show you care. And so, what we did, we did that program. And I got it on tape, too. It was a very good program. But it got to be so darn political, because Don Bailey would not shake the hands of the Vietnam veterans that were there, who worked so hard on the Wall. And I could not believe that here is a guy, a Purple Heart winner, and Don Bailey was a Purple Heart winner, yet he refused to go up into the room with Harry and Dan. And I could not understand the bitterness there when all they cared about was creating that Wall in Philadelphia. And I do not know if you have been to the Wall in Philly, but it is a beautiful wall. They have had a lot of problems with graffiti. People try to destroy. There is a lot of roadblocks to getting that property as well. Of course, Edison High School has the most people who died in the Vietnam War. So, it is a-

JG: A good guy you may want to go to go look up. I am reading the story. Someone handed it to me at the wall. It is a Denver Post story about a Vietnam veteran. He was one of McNamara's Project, 100,000 guys. These are the people where they went out and they lowered the standards. So, they were taking people with an IQ of 60 and below and making drafting them and making them soldiers and sending to Vietnam where they died at a rate three times higher than the average draftee. This is by way of they said, "Bootstrapping. We are going to help these guys out of poverty and out of the inner city. So, we are going to send them to the army." Well, this guy out in Pueblo, Colorado is one of those guys. And he is 100 percent disabled, unable to work. Launched a personal campaign five years ago, basically around the malls and the grocery stores with a can collecting dimes, and quarters, and dollars to build a Memorial.

SM: In Denver?

JG: Stones in Pueblo.

SM: Oh Pueblo, okay.

JG: With the 680 names of the Coloradoans killed in Vietnam, and this guy is barely functional, but he managed to go around to companies and get them to agree to help. He got someone to agree to engrave the names, somebody else to donate the stone. He went to the city council and made a presentation and got them to cough up 15 grand and bang they dedicated it last two weeks ago.

SM: An article in the Denver Post?

JG: Yeah, and on the day, they dedicated the Veterans Administration cut his pension in half because if he could do such a project surely, he could do a job too.

SM: Is that where we are today?

JG: Is that where we are today? You bet your ass.

SM: Yeah, I have got to get a copy. Do you know who? Is it the Denver Post of-

JG: Denver Post-

JG: People probably know by calling to get the-

JG: Call him. They got it.

SM: Any other lasting words of advice? Any thoughts on the boomer generation?

JG: No. I will let what you have got stand. I probably said too much too bluntly.

SM: No-no, that is what I wanted.

JG: And all I do is say what is in my heart.

SM: When I met with Jack Smith, I asked him “Who should I interview?” And he-he just said one name, you. That is unbelievable.

JG: Jack is a wonderful man. I do not know how he retained his sanity going through what he went through. I went through some stuff but nothing like that stuff.

SM: Yeah, he is, he is unbelievable.

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview



Stephen McKiernan


Joseph Lee Galloway

Biographical Text

Joseph Lee Gallaway is a veteran war correspondent and author. In his writing, Galloway covered conflicts all across the world, including the Vietnam War, the first Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War. He is the co-author of the Vietnam War book We Were Soldiers Once... and Young, which was later adapted into a movie, We Were Soldiers.





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Binghamton University Libraries

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2 Microcassettes

Interview Format


Subject LCSH

War correspondents; Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Journalists; Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988 -- Journalists; Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Journalists; Authors; Gallaway, Joseph Lee--Interviews

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Vietnam Veterans; Free love; Campus Demonstration; Vietnam War; Non-political entity; Veteran Memorial; Baby boom generation; Army; This Noble Land: My Vision for America; James A. Michener; Soviet Empire; Lyndon B. Johnson; George McGovern; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; Malcolm X.



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About this Collection

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Stephen McKiernan's collection of interviews includes more than two hundred interviews with prominent figures of the 1960s, which were collected between the mid-1990s and 2010s. The collection provides narratives of people who were actively involved in or witnessed events in the 1960s, an era which spurred profound cultural and… More

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“Interview with Joseph Lee Gallaway,” Digital Collections, accessed July 13, 2024,