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Interview with Dr. Henry Franklin Graff

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Transcription

McKiernan Interviews
Interview with: Henry Franklin Graff
Interviewed by: Stephen McKiernan
Transcriber: REV
Date of interview: 29 July 1996
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(Start of Interview)

SM:
All right. Well thank you for participating in this project. The first question I would like to ask is, the boomer generation and the (19)60s and early (19)70s is being attacked as one of the reasons for the breakdown of American society. Could you respond to this criticism and comment on the period and its impact on present day America? Is the criticism fair? And when this criticism is often directed to the youth of the era, what can you say about the boomers of the (19)60s and early (19)70s?

HG:
Well, I think there is a change. I guess some people would label a that a breakdown. I see our generation as, it is not the cause of that, as much as we were in the wrong place at the wrong time here. We were the vehicle for much of that change. And when I think about the change today, one of the things I think about first is that the last time I read something, it was-was over 70 percent of women now work outside the home. That was not true of my parents' generation. When I think about the street I grew up on, most of the mothers were home all day with the families. The fathers went to work. And I think about how traditional and conservative my upbringing was, and actually I think about the year I went to Vietnam and when I came.

HG:
Think about the year I went to Vietnam and when I came home, it seemed like everything had changed in my absence, everything. And then I remember the late (19)60s and the (19)70s, and I do not know that I see our generation as having any responsibility for causing that. We certainly had responsibility for trying to cope with economic forces, and I think some shifting of values. Certainly our generation for whatever their purposes began to question basic values such as when your government asks for your help, you provide it without question.

SM:
You made an important point there that when you went to Vietnam and then when you came back. Now, were you there one year, two years?

HG:
I was in country 222 days, and then it was a month and a half in hospital in Vietnam and Japan before I could come home. So it was almost a year.

SM:
What were your feelings at that time toward the protestors before you went to Vietnam and then when you came back from Vietnam, those who were opposed to the war? Did you have any thoughts toward them at that juncture?

HG:
Not really. I mean, I enlisted in the Marine Corps and then I volunteered to go to Vietnam. I did not originally get orders for that. I was waiting to go to Officers Candidate School and then the Tet Offensive of (19)68 took place and I was sitting at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. And at that point I was told that it might be another six months before everything was done and I could start Officer Candidate School. That would be six months. And then I would start a whole new enlistment as an officer for three years. And I just decided that, well, maybe I will go to Vietnam and see what that is like. And if I want to be an officer, I can always do that. So I resigned from the commissioning program and went over as an enlisted man. I thought it was a personal decision. I did not understand people who said no or even challenged the right of the government to ask for these sacrifices. I always felt that my father's generation and previous generations had sacrificed. That is why we had America. It required sacrifice and I did not question it, and my choice was to go and do what needed to be done without any questioning of that. I thought other people could make their choices. I did not feel they had to make same choices I did, and I never regretted my choice, and even as things have turned out.

SM:
Now, one of the two interesting politicians in that era are Senator Fulbright in his book Arrogance of Power, and I know that Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote a small book on Vietnam in 1968, basically talking about the Diem regime and basically condemning the government, not anybody who went over there, but the government and the leaders of America. And in both, not only in Arrogance of Power, but also in the commentary of Dr. Spock, it was the fact that those individuals who decided that they did not want to go to war and protested against the war were American patriots. That they were true patriots. Now they were not on the one hand condemning the Vietnam veterans who went over there, but they were saying that they looked upon those individuals as true American patriots even though they were being condemned on this side, especially in fighting Johnson and all the other eventually Nixon and so forth. What are your thoughts on Fulbright and Dr. Spock and those types of leaders who were making those kinds of commentaries? Was there some validity to that? Do you think that not only from your own perspective, but from the perspective of other Vietnam veterans, how did they look upon those leaders saying those types of things? And then of course, how did they look upon those people who protested, decided not to go when you said it was your duty to go just like your dad in World War II?

HG:
Well, many Vietnam veterans feel that anyone that did not take their place in the ranks would be anything but a patriot. As I said, I thought it was a personal decision, and I do believe there is times, I do not believe that you always accept the government version and that you do what the government asks. I think there is lots of opportunities for challenging and that sometimes to challenge the government does make one a patriot. It is a patriotic thing to do. I think about Desert Storm, certainly I was against the idea of sending a half million American troops over there when I believe that in the end it would turn into a ground war. I mean, the conventional wisdom was you could not win a campaign like that with an Air War, no matter how smart your bombs are, and that eventually American troops are going to have to close with the Iraqi troops and fight it out, and that is going to determine the outcome. And I was very upset at the idea, and I thought when that happened, there would be tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of casualties, and I did not feel that the stakes were worth it. And so I was against the idea of involvement in the Persian Gulf. So I guess I could be called a patriot of that era because I took a position that we should not be there. We certainly should not send our young men there. It is one thing to provide monetary support and arms to the other combatants. But why are we taking the lead? Why are we the first one there and why are we sending Americans? For cheap gas? I will pay $4 a gallon if it takes that.

SM:
If you knew then now about what was going on in Vietnam and how the leaders were, well, really not telling the whole truth about what was going on in Vietnam, how do you feel most of the Vietnam veterans would have felt? Of course, a lot of Vietnam veterans, Senator Kerry being one of them from Massachusetts, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, when they came back, Bobby Mueller was involved in that group. He had another group he was involved in, but-

HG:
Jack Smith was one of the founders of that.

SM:
...He was, yeah. Well, do you think that you might have had a different point of view?

HG:
Well, when I came back, I had lots of opportunity. I spent years in and out of the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, had lots of opportunities to think about the war per se. I mean, when you get there and I do not know how to say this, but when you get there it does not take long to realize it is a bad war. I mean, we are dying for what seems like nothing at that level, and you do not have the big picture. And in a real sense, it did not make any difference anyway. What mattered was surviving and making sure that your buddy survived. It did not matter what the war was all about. It did not matter if I was on the beaches of Normandy or Pusan perimeter or Vietnam or getting ready to go into Iraq. At that level it is really irrelevant.

SM:
Do you think the majority of the veterans, obviously you are saying now that at that juncture most want to survive, the bottom line is to survive, get through their year and get out of there.

HG:
Mortal combat.

SM:
But then when you come back, then that is when the thinking really starts in terms of what it was all about?

HG:
Well then you try to make sense of what has happened to you. You try to find some meaning in it. I was proud of what I did. I was proud of the men that I served with. Was I proud of what we were doing? Not particularly. I did not think it was a very good strategy. I certainly felt that the biggest losers of all were the Vietnamese people. I mean, they feared us and they feared the NVA and the VC. And all they wanted to do, and you could see it in their faces every day, all they wanted to do was scratch out a living, find something to eat that day to feed their family and try and avoid being killed by anybody, either by design or by accident. They were the biggest losers of all.

SM:
Getting back to that question regarding how Vietnam veterans felt when they came back and there was a division. Going to the wall, nowadays, I just tried to see the ambience of feelings of the people, and there is still tremendous dislike for those who oppose the war, at least this is my perception, and this is why I am trying to get some clarity on this from the people I am talking to, the 300 people, Vietnam veterans, people who protest the war, leaders, younger people today. Do you still feel, I know there is some that will never heal, but do you still feel that the majority of the Vietnam veterans are still against the people who oppose the war? Do you think there is still, because after all, when you look at the wall and the formation of the wall, this is getting to a question later on here, but that Jan Scruggs did such a tremendous job putting the wall together because it was supposed to be a non-political statement, it was supposed to state that we were going to pay tribute to those who gave their lives and also those who served, and also try to heal the veterans and give them recognition that they deserve and also try to heal the families. But when Jan wrote the book To Heal a Nation, it was my perception that it has helped the Vietnam veterans along, but I do not know what it is done totally, really for the nation. In terms of the boomer generation, which the Vietnam veterans are part of, and those who protested the war are, is there any healing there happening between those diverse groups?

HG:
Well, in my experiences I have seen what during the war was a division and I have seen those same people now 20, 30 years later and there is not a division. We have all moved on my mind now. I forgot what it was. There are some people who in trying to find meaning in what they have gone through, they have to use other people to create their own meaning. So on the one hand, there was the people who did not go, the people that went to Canada or Sweden or the people that marched against the war, even Vietnam veterans who came home and then protested against the war like Vietnam Veterans Against the War. And they need to use people like that in order to define themselves. I am not one of them. And I have always felt that, as I said, everyone had to make their own decision. I could not make any other decision than the one I made having been brought up the way I was brought up and having had the feelings I had about being an American and being able to grow up in this country and feeling from the start that I owed a responsibility to the country. And when it came time for that responsibility to be called upon, I was there. It was not dependent on whether or not I believed in the war, or whether or not I thought we had a good chance of winning or anything like that. And the nature of the war is what the resistance to it was all about, rather than the fact that our country has the right to become involved in war. I mean, it was the same thing with Desert Storm. For the first time, I was questioning whether or not the country had the right to get involved in that. Not that we should not have helped out Kuwait, but the degree of our involvement was simply due to the oil that was there. That was it. If it was some poor country somewhere that had nothing that we felt was important strategically, we would not have done that. I mean, little countries get overrun or annexed or cut off or whatever for a long time.

SM:
Question here, what has been the impact of the boomers on America? This is a general question beyond just the Vietnam veterans, but you are a boomer, and what do you feel has been the impact of boomers on America? Positive or negative? And I want to preface this question by saying, and I think I mentioned over the phone that we see today from the Christian coalition, an attack on the boomer generation constantly it is all the ills of society seem to stem back to that period. Breakup of the family, the divorce rate is on the rise, the drug culture, the counterculture, and of course we have a lot of drugs in generation X, lack of trust in leaders, lack of trust in politics, lack of trust in any kind of leaders, people not really voting. Boomers do not vote, and their kids do not vote. And it gets into a lot of different areas here. It is not just the Christian coalition. You hear it amongst a lot of the politicians today. There is the Republicans and even some Democrats who are trying to go middle of the road. And I know in all generations there are mistakes made, but is that a fair analysis? And what is your thought as a person who was a Vietnam veteran who was young at that time? You have gone on to become a professional psychologist. What are your perceptions? What are your perceptions of your generation, not only when you were young, but how has that evolved over the last 25 years? And how do you feel today about that generation, your generation?

HG:
Well, in the (19)60s and (19)70s, I felt a part of a generation that was defining itself. Again, it was talking about individuals who defined themselves as the opposite of other people that they can pick out. That is not a rebellion or a revolution. I mean, in the (19)60s and (19)70s, we were talking about revolution and we were going to change things. But if your revolution is that you are going to be the exact opposite of someone else, well, that is no revolution at all because your identity or what you are going to do or what you are going to believe in or what you are going to act on is really defined by the individual or the group that you have decided to be in opposition to. And I thought a lot of our early revolution was simply challenging the status quo and the morals and the values even around basic things like sexuality and the use of drugs for recreational purposes. Most of these people I know from my generation have mellowed out some more into the mainstream once they became people with careers and homes and mortgages and families and they paid taxes. And that our generation went through that shift, and then has become I think more alike. Now we are the middle-aged generation for the country and we have some responsibility. We have responsibility for the younger generation. And as time goes on, we take more and more responsibility for the older generation. We are now the power brokers. We are now the people that decide what happens. Clinton is president. I think the choice this fall between the class of (19)46 and Senator Doll and President Clinton who is a baby boomer, I mean, that is the choice that country's facing. I might happen to think that our generation has done right by the country, and I think we can lead the country and make the choices that we need to make to keep it true to its ideal.

SM:
So you are not one of those boomers who are advising this attack that all the ills of today's society are directly related to the boomers? And their counterculture and the way their rebellious dialogue, which do you see any linkage at all between the divisiveness of that era and what we see in the divisive today in terms of how we talk to each other, how we communicate with each other? In other words, a lot of times we do not talk. We shout at each other. We do not listen to each other. Do you think it is fair or is it depending on who you are, some will say it is ridiculous and some will say there is validity, but that all began back in the (19)60s and early (19)70s. Do you feel that way or could that be a part of-

HG:
I feel like when I was growing up, we did not talk to adults. As children the idea was you were there to be seen and not heard, and you did not sit at dinner table and talk to adults, even in school with your teachers. And I think there is one example of how there is more interaction. One of the things that I think our generation brought was more dialogue between different generations. I think you can look around and find examples of everything from McCarthyism and the Red Scare. I mean, was a better than in the 1950s? The use of recreational drugs was very uncommon, but the rate of alcoholism was much higher than it is today. And the per capita consumption of hard liquor in this country was probably eight times what it is today. Today, hardly anybody except the older generations drink hard liquor and even the distillers are having to branch out and get into other businesses because that is not the culture. But there was certainly alcoholism around and it destroyed families. I mean, we did not invent it. There was divorce around too. What was more common I think, in my parents' generation was to stay together no matter what, no matter how horrible it was, whether you said it was for the kids or just because I am not the kind of person that divorces. I deal with all kinds of pain and suffering in members of my generation who grew up in those kinds of toxic families where no one was going to leave. And these kids who are now adults do not know how to be in a relationship. They do not know how to relate. They do not even know who they are. And I see that as a consequence of growing up in the family where there was not any acknowledgement what was really going on there. Women did not have the ability to leave and be independent and take care of themselves. They were too dependent on their husbands, so they stayed no matter what. You can take any issue like that, and if you really look at it, see that in fact there was something just as awful or just as upsetting going on, but it only looks different on the surface.

SM:
One of the old slogans when I was in college was the IBM mentality. You ever see that old advertising where five people come out the front door with their hat on and their suit on, and they all drove the same car, had the same suit, and the wife kissed as they went away and everything, almost the house was identical. And there was a feeling of in the university, because it was called the multiversity in the late (19)60s, that we did not want to be carbon copies of what preceded us. And so there was kind of rebelliousness, and you raised some very good points about the fact that at the table rarely the parents talked to their kids. Certainly they stayed in marriages and they were not honest with their kids about the things that the kids saw them, but they just stayed on board. Linking back to the boomers, they probably wanted to be more honest and meet more open and to be critical at times, whereas their parents may not have been critical. And the question I want to get into this next question here is can today's generation of youth learn from the boomers? What can the boomers teach today's college students? This question is based on the fact that many of today's students often look at the (19)60s and early (19)70s as a period of activism, drugs, and single-minded issues. Dave Bolt mentioned that he thought they were simple-minded issues. Though many of the same issues remain there are new ones, and the lessons of the past are either not taught in schools today or never discussed between parent, the boomer parent, I mean the boomer itself, and today's kids, which is Generation X or slackers, another term that is used. Please give your thoughts on the issues in boomers lives and how they can have impact on students’ eyes today. This question came forth based on a couple conversations I had with a couple faculty members at West Chester University, one African American who is a dynamic professor and another is a majority professor. And both of them felt that they did not want to relate to their kids about what it was like when they were young because they have too many problems today. So why burden them with their parents' problems and what it was like? And I asked myself, wow, is this an example of how boomers are raising their kids? Are boomers talking about what it was like to be young, what it was like to be a Vietnam veteran, to share the experience with their sons or daughters? I have three students at West Chester. Two of them went to see Lewis Puller. Neither dad had ever talked to their son about Vietnam, and they learned about Vietnam through Lewis Puller. Now that is amazing. Neither parent would talk about it. They loved their dad, but they just would not open up. And then the other person was an African American who was about the civil rights movement, but she did not want to burden her kids with talking about that era when there are other problems today. The question is, can boomers share this experiences and are Generation X and slackers, do they want to learn? Do they want to listen to this? That is what I am trying to get at.

HG:
Well, I actually have not that much experience with today's generation. I mean, that says something. I mean, I will just stay with the example of the students that you had who had never talked to their fathers about being in Vietnam. That is not unusual at all, whether it is Vietnam or World War II or Korea. If you read Lewis Puller's book that his father did not talk to him about being in war. My father did not talk to me. I did not find out until after my father died and I was responsible for all the records. I did not really find out what exactly he did until I found his records and I was able to read those and then piece them together. And then I had some idea. He never talked to me about war before I went to war or after I went to war. And even at the end, I met a professor of mine, he was not a professor of mine but he was teaching and at my school, and he wrote his memoirs of being a fighter pilot in the South Pacific in World War II. And I bought it and read it and wondered, because my father was in the South Pacific in the Army Air Force, and I wondered if this was his experience. And I gave him the book to read and he read it. And the only comment he ever made was that the author had made a mistake with the model type of plane he was talking about, it was not a T-9, it was a T... And that was it. That was his whole reaction. And the reason I gave him the book was to see if maybe it would not spark some conversation about, well, gee Dad, what did you do in the war? And I never told him what I did in the war. So it is not unusual at all in my experience that-

SM:
Hey.

HG:
...That sons do not talk to their fathers, the warriors, whatever their wars. I think we could learn. I think today I would like to think that today's generation can learn from us and that they do not make the same mistakes. My goal has always been to make different mistakes than the ones that my father's generation or the other members of my generation made.

SM:
If you were to describe the youth of the (19)60s and early (19)70s, please describe the qualities you most admire and then describe the qualities you least admire. You can use adjectives or what were the things about the boomer generation, that is people who were born, sometimes I hate using these parameters. People born between (19)46 and (19)64 are boomers when we all know that those born between (19)46 and say (19)58 are so different than those in the...

HG:
I was born in (19)47, and I do not have a lot that I would identify with someone who was born, well, actually, my wife was born in (19)60. She is 13 years younger than I am. And when we hear a music, I mean, I play oldies in the car on the radio, and I will say, "Did you ever hear that song? Do you remember that song?" A lot of times she will say, "No, I do not remember that song," or, "I do not remember that." Or we will watch something on TV and it is about something that happened in the (19)60s...

SM:
Okay.

HG:
Just say, "I do not remember that." And that was an important part of my life. I mean, when I was in Vietnam, she was eight years old. So not all boomers are the same. She does not even think of herself as a boomer.

SM:
She is post boomer probably. Post boomer, pre slacker. Tell her that. Well, if you were to give some adjectives to describe the boomers, the positive things, what would be the positives of the boomers?

HG:
I think our generation was committed to various visions of what America should be, and we took the initiative to try and bring about change. And I think we can take responsibility for a lot of things that have changed. And again, I think of getting women out of the house where their sole role in life is to have children and raise them. A friend of mine called women like that breeders. If you have the kids and you stay at home and you take care of them, and that is your whole life. Boy, I would not want to just have the family as my whole life. I would want to have the opportunity to be fulfilled in other ways. And I think women today, by and large, have opportunities and have options that they did not have in my mother's generation.

SM:
How about any negative qualities about the boomers?

HG:
I am not really used to thinking about us as separate and apart and different than the rest of the population. So I cannot think of any specific negative about us.

SM:
One of the comments, so again, I have not interviewed many people, but a few comments have come forth that the boomers are a very irresponsible group. Do you find that as a negative or-

SM:
Do you find that as a negative, or...

HG:
Well, it would be a negative, I would not say that, and I would not agree with it, but I do not know why someone else would say that.

SM:
I think they were prefacing it with the statement when they were out there protesting and/or some of those Boomers are the so-called elites. That is what they call 15 percent who are protesting the war, and found some sort of activism. They would just-

HG:
Every generation has its elites. America is more elitist than ever. The distribution of wealth is more disparate than ever. Now we are moving into a really very difficult time, when there really is a separation between important parts of the group. I know people who thought John Kerry was very elite because he had money, came from a money family, and he would go to rallies, but he would fly to them.

SM:
Oh, geez.

HG:
It is all on your perspective. The other guys in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War-

SM:
Hitchhike.

HG:
...who did not have money looked at him, or some of the big names now who were officers. It all depends on your perspective. I certainly would not think of our generation of irresponsible. If we are, then the country's in big trouble because right now we are carrying the economy and everything on our shoulders. Our parents' generation, we are going to be responsible for taking care of them, probably at our own expense, and to also take care of our children's generation, and our grandchildren's gen... Well, selling them down the pike like they have been sold down the pike already. I do not believe that that was our generation that is done that. Why you got a friend?

SM:
Hey, how are you?

HG:
That is Shadow.

SM:
You are going to be interview... Shadow, you will be interviewed next. You got to wait your turn, so be prepared. Okay, Shadow? Could you comment on the importance of the Boomers with respect to the Vietnam War itself?

HG:
We fought it.

SM:
You fought it.

HG:
Could not have had it without it.

SM:
There is a lot of historians and sociologists have stated that if it was not for the protestors, the war would never have ended. Do you find that there is validity in that statement?

HG:
Well, in the things that I have read, it was clear that it might have ended sooner without them because toward the end, there was a lot of concern about doing this in a way that politically did not look like they cannot win. I mean, I read that someone said to Johnson, and I think it was his Secretary of Defense, "Look, why do not we just bring all the troops home and say we won?" He was concerned how that would look, and certainly what I read suggested that Nixon was concerned about appearing to give in to these kids that were causing problems, and we cannot appear to let them run things. I think without them it might have been easier to fold our tents, and come home and call it a day. Certainly the war would have been, I mean it was going nowhere, and we did not really pursue, I mean we were not really fighting a war after (19)72. We had very few troops there, and they were advisors, and serving behind the scenes. They were no longer taking the Fed to the enemy. We did get out, is that what we do? And it was too expensive, and there was all kinds of reasons it would have ended.

SM:
Back in (19)64 Dr. Spark's book, and of course a lot of people know about this, that he made a commentary that we will never send during the (19)64 campaign, we will never send our boys to into China because that that is... the Asian boys will fight that war. Our boys will not fight it. Of course, that was a criticism of Goldwater too. They felt he was going to take our troops right over there. And then from 15,000 advisors when Kennedy was there, to the beginning of troops going over after Johnson went into the presidency. I guess, what I give back is a lot of Boomers at that period, from seeing what happened, and of course they feel that they are one of the main reasons for Lyndon Johnson leaving the- ... Not deciding to run in (19)68, because the people that were going to support McCarthy, and then Bobby Kennedy, and the protests, and he did ... Really would not have a shot at winning. It was tearing the nation apart, decided not to move on. During that era, from seeing the Robert McNamara's and Lyndon Johnson, and then Richard Nixon and then leading up to Watergate, there was this whole lack of trust on the part of many Boomers, certainly the 15 percent who were protesting. That is a term that a lot of people use. 85 percent were not involved in any kind of an activity but my thought has always been that maybe affecting the subconscious of the whole generation, so that there was no trust happening. No faith in leadership as Mayor Burns up in Binghamton, a close friend of Bobby Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy was our last hope. Even then, since that time there has really been no one that the nation could get behind in terms of trust and support, as an entire nation. What are your thoughts on this business regarding the concept of trust, and the lack of faith in our institutions? Because, if indeed there is a lack of trust, psychologist was saying, and you are one, I can remember reading in my psychology 101 book. Something about the fact that if you cannot trust then you may not succeed in life. There is a concept before you have got to trust someone, whether it be your parent, or somebody. You have got to have a concept of trust. And yet, if young people are being raised by not having faith in their leadership of the country, and they were not telling the truth about the war, the body counts, all these types of things that were coming back, and we saw it on television, because another person said we are like the TV generation, not the Boomer generation, the TV generation. That there is something within the Boomers about not trusting people. Do you think as a psychologist, not only as a person who works with Boomers as patients, but as a boomer yourself, that there is some validity to the fact that this generation more than any other in history, is a generation that does not trust, and thus, they are passing that on to their kids who are today's young people in college, and they themselves may not be able to trust? Is there some validity to that thought?

HG:
Well, I think part of maturing is moving from naive trust to informed trust, kind of learning to do your homework before you trust someone, whether it is an individual, or whether it is an institution. Part of maturing is learning the rules, and I say moving away from civics 101 to the way the world really works, that I can think about Desert Storm again, that we did not go in there because we were guests. That this big militaristic country had overrun this poor small democracy, and we wanted to go in there, and protect democracy from the tyranny of a dictator. Again, we went in there because it was in our best interest, if we are going to have oil that is easily available and cheap to run our economy. As you grow up, you learn who to trust. Sometimes, you learn it the easy way, and sometimes you learn it the hard way. I do not know that our generation has any more difficulty with trust. There was a concept when I was an undergraduate that came out of Neil Durkheim, who was a sociologist in the 1800s, and he wrote a book on suicide. He talked about a state of enemy when in culture there did not seem to be enough structure, things seemed to be in chaos. I can remember when I was younger reading that, and identifying with that. I bet today's generation is doing the same thing. They are reading about Durkheim's concept of enemy, and saying, "Yeah, that is us," but it cannot be that every generation feels, and some of the things I have read about my parents' generation coming out of the Depression, and you know, read The Grapes of Wrath, or you watch the movie, the messages that society is that society is not working right, there is no structure, it is every man for himself, blah-blah-blah. And then, World War II, the same major shift that an impact that had on the culture, and then the recovery, and then the Cold War. I think again, we are talking about if you look hard enough, none of these things originated with our generation, and I do not think our generation is overly influenced, or practicing them. These are other generations. I think the issues can be different. I think it is sure hard to be a kid today. It is dangerous out there, and I think the rise of violence, the easy availability of guns, the saturation of drugs to the corner level in your little town, wherever it is. When I was growing up, drug abuse was so unusual and so foreign. I can remember a couple of movies, the Man with a Golden Arm, and if you ended up having a drug problem, they sent you to I think it was Louisville or Lexington, Kentucky, or there was a special federal prison for drug addicts from all over the country. Now, you go to any jail, and it is full of drug addicts, or people that have a problem with drugs. It was there, but the magnitude has shifted somewhat, although there are not as many alcoholics as there were.

SM:
But you see that, I do not want to make this in a political interview, but then you have those who comment that well the welfare state, and the policies begun under the Johnson administration began a trend. Special interest groups, we care more about special interest groups than we care about the general public. That is conservative, that is a conservative attack on democratic policy. Well the thing is, and then now that Boomers are in or going into, because they are 50 now beginning of the Boomers, so they are really just have not been in positions of power and authority for very long, and they have still got many years ahead.

HG:
We have all the problems with the previous generation and depositing on our doorsteps. I was talking to somebody about healthcare, and I am old enough to remember that when I got sick, we called up with Dr. Loftus, and we went over there, and whatever I needed then my father paid him for it. There was not any health insurance back then, if there was, we did not have it. A lot of times we were sick, we did not go anywhere, because we did not have the money. I remember in 1965, that was the I graduated from high school when Johnson brought Medicare in, and there were actually quite a few old people who had very little, very little during their working life, and then had very little to retire on. Nowadays, the rate of elderly who are destitute is very small, at least from the statistics I have read, so a remedy was developed to take care of those in need. That is where I remember the great society, and I thought all of that was well-intentioned, and a good idea, and did not have a problem with it then. I think there is some things we can do to... Actually, I think the difference, what I am remembering now is I did not have a lot of good to say about Reagan, the president, but one of the things that I was very pleased with was when he passed, and signed off on a catastrophic healthcare bill for Medicare beneficiaries, I think it was (19)83 or (19)84, so that everyone would have guaranteed catastrophic healthcare, that no one would lose everything as a result of getting sick, and it was to be paid for by the Medicare beneficiaries themselves. They would pay the premium. Well, the AARP people and the well-to-do elderly got so upset, and caused such a ruckus that two years later it was done away with. They did not want to pay the premiums for their poor fellow generation, World War II generation class of (19)46. I thought that is really ludicrous. I think of us, to go back to the other question, I think our generation has grown up with the idea that we are responsible for the rest of society, and I personally do not have a problem with having programs. Can programs get out of hand? Can they take on a life of their own? Can people become too dependent? In politics, it is clear that once you have given somebody something, it is much harder to take it back than if you never gave it to them in the first place, because people come to feel entitled to it. Depending on where you are at, where you are at in the food chain because I do not expect to get anything out of social security, or very little. As I work on my investments, and things like that. I feel that I have to be able to take care of myself because I do not think there is going to be anything there. But my mother's generation, my mother's getting social superior now, and I am real happy for her and her generation, and they are getting much more than they ever put into it. That turns out to be the fatal flaw, and this kind of approach and it remains seen what they are going to do about it.

SM:
You bring up that, it is just an example, I will look at the (19)60s and the Boomer generation as a group that cared about other people, who cared about what was happening in the south. Young people went down to Freedom Summer, even though the (19)64, they were not the Boomers, but the Boomers were coming on, and seeing these experiences because in (19)64, most Boomers old enough to go down south, but that was that group that just preceded the Boomers. You got the issue of civil rights caring about African Americans, you got the issue of certainly poverty in the inner cities. You have got the issue of the environmental movement, which came to fruition with that 1970 Earth Day ceremony in Washington. You have got the women's movement, who ... Even the Native American movement. That happened in Elk- The were a Hispanic movement. The Latino movement started around that time, gay and lesbian movement. It was like a caring about some of the disenfranchise in our society, and I look upon that as a very positive quality within the Boomer generation. But then, there are the naysayers out there who say that in reality we were our very selfish generation, only caring about ourselves, and our own special interests. Then they see what is happening today that African Americans care about only their issues. Gays and lesbians care about their issues, and women care about their issues, and break all the breakdowns. What are your thoughts on that? Would you categorize this generation as a very caring generation, different than any previous generation, or they cared more? Is that a quality that is positive in this?

HG:
I think my parents' generation, and their parents' generation, that it was rugged individualism all the way. My parents did not feel any particular responsibility for other people. They felt that it is what you do for yourself. You got to get up and go to work, and you do not expect nothing from anyone else, and you do not... You are not responsible for anyone else. As opposed to my generation where, as I was growing up, I saw the government turn into turn again... I mean you can just look at the New Deal, and everything that was done to overcome the Depression, and see that in fact the government has created programs, some of which are still around now, and do not need to be that. In fact, I think of the government, if the government is not there to attempt to remedy problems in the society, and problems that only affect special groups or interests, then what is the government there for? Versus the government that is there to keep the status quo, which means some people who are doing swell are going to continue to do swell, and then other people who are not, just too bad for them.

SM:
The haves will continue to be the haves, and the have nots-

HG:
Right. I think of the kind of government that I believe in is a proactive, and a reactive government that does things, and tries new approaches, and does not close its eyes to problems, and it does not have to be a problem that affects everyone in the country in order for the government to be reactive to it.

SM:
When you talk about that, that is directly linked to when these Boomers were growing up. Because they saw the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson, and they saw these things, and it was really affected them, and those that have gone into public service, and want to be involved in working for others beyond themselves. I got a question here. Have you changed your opinion on the youth of the (19)60s over the last 25 years?

HG:
Just on the youth of the (19)60s?

SM:
Yes, the youth. Have you changed at all?

HG:
No, not really.

SM:
Do you feel you are consistent in your thoughts?

HG:
Yeah, I did not look down on us. I thought I served with a lot of guys that felt that they were doing the right thing, just like I thought I was. I could also understand people that did not want to die, and did not want to get hurt, and did not want to be exposed to horrible things. Much of my generation, 90 percent of my generation was not in uniform in the whole Vietnam War. What is that make them? I did not have a problem with Bill Clinton. I do not have a problem with the letter he wrote from Oxford. I do not have a problem with him wanting to get out of serving the Vietnam War. I did not have a problem with Dan Quail, who managed to wangle a National Guard position so he did not have to go. In any war, the majority of the citizenry do not serve, and in anywhere. What is that make them?

SM:
If you recall Don Bailey, when he spoke on our, at that program in (19)75, I mean (19)75, (19)85, he refused to even acknowledge the Vietnam veterans over at that program. Remember we had the reception upstairs, and he said, "No, I will sit downstairs with a program start." So he was very bitter, and I think he had a couple purple hearts, or was right front lines and-

HG:
Personality disorder too. Being a surgeon in Vietnam does not make you a wonderful person.

SM:
That is true. They are always going to be those people of the extreme who are not going to ever change, and are still going to have the bitterness probably to the time they go to their grave, but it is my hope that the majority will want to create a dialogue between, as they get older, and not have this bitterness, when they go to their graves about that era. It is a feeling that hopefully this whole project will get involved with. This is a comment, the Boomers always used to say they were the most unique generation in American history. I can remember in the early (19)70s when I was in Ohio State University, we go to rallies, and they say we are going to show the world that we are the most unique generation in American history. Not only were they fighting the war, but all the other issues that were involved, and to this day, as a Boomer, now in my late 40s still, I feel that we are something unique. That is just me. Certainly different than my dad's generation, and I work with student’s day in and day out, and they are totally different than what we were, but they are not activists. I have perception, do you think that for that we are the most unique generation in American history, or in this century?

HG:
No, I do not think we are the most unique. Again, I can think about the first generation who came over as English subjects, and what it took them to decide that they wanted to set to get freedom from England, and pursue a war that there was no consensus at the time that we could even pursue successfully, and everything went on. I look at the generation that fought to keep the Union together. I look at the generation that came out of a Depression and joined a World War, and wanted... I do not think that we are any more unique. I think we have had some challenges that other generations might not have had, but they have had their challenges. I think we have met our challenges by and large, well. I think of this as unique.

SM:
If you are described a good quality or an adjective that would describe this generations' activist, they may have been more activist than any other generation, irrespective of the American Revolutionary period, which they were obviously activists risking their lives, but they were in the minority too, at that time because I think one third, only one third were against Britain. One third supported Britain, and one third care less.

HG:
Well, I also think that one of my pet peeves is the media. I also think that our generation saw the sentencing of the media, as not only people who reported the news, but people who make the news. You can look around for many examples today, that young girl that made her walk on the women's gymnastics team pretty strong. When in reality, we had already won. She did not know that. She was... The next day I heard on TV that she was being told that she could probably make four or five million dollars now if she wanted to put her efforts into marketing herself, and whatever. My major problem with the news today is that I think they spend too much time making the news from the start. They have been committed to the idea that the TWA flight 800 blew up with a bomb, regardless of evidence, or lack of evidence. These stories take on a life of their own, and I think that began with our generation. The electronic media was really coming into its own. I mean, I remember growing up watching the news of Walter Cronkite, and he just, he was just a talking head there most of the time, and would have a couple of clips. He reported it in his monotone, and then he would end up with, "and that is the way it is." The news is presented differently. It has spin on it, just like, I mean, everything anybody is feeding the media has spin on it, and then they put their own spin on it. I think that we came of age during the electronic media era, when the electronic media was coming of age is starting to realize it is potential.

SM:
I think a lot of the perceptions of Vietnam came from those reports too, especially morally safer. In that one report that everybody remembers, and I remember it was because I was there seeing the news that night of burning down that village, setting in a fire. That might have been 60 minutes. I am not even sure what it was, but I just know... I think it was Morley Safer.

HG:
60 minutes.

SM:
Yeah.

HG:
-went over.

SM:
Yeah, I think it was Marley Safer. Yeah, he was there, and so was Mike Wallace.

HG:
I can remember every night hearing the casualty count, and how many people, how killed in action there were that week.

SM:
From now we know that the true numbers that were coming in. This might be repetitive here, but Boomers used to say they were going to change the world. They were offering quotas being the youth that would change the world in a positive way. Was this true? Were they different? And in what way? I think you have already kind of made a comment in there. It has often been quoted that only 15 percent of the Boomers were truly activists, were involved in some sort of activity linked civil rights, Vietnam War protest, the women's movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the environmental movement, or any kind of activism overall in politics. Any issues today? Is this true, or is this another way to lessen the impact this group has had on America since the (19)60s? In other words on, there has been reports on the television, public broadcasting, documentaries on the Vietnam War, and they will always say that actually there were not that many people really involved in that. They lessened the impact these people had on what was happening in America based on the numbers. Since this is a generation of 60 million, 65 million, only 15 percent on were involved, so thus it was not that great a movement. But, that is the media again.

HG:
Well, I think-

HG:
I called Tom Williams up and I said, "Where did you get this statistic?" And he mumbled around and I spent years trying to track it down. It supposedly, and you can ask Jack Smith about this if you talk to him, because it apparently came out of some church study that he had some involvement in. A church group had given him some money, and some people he was involved with, but it was patently untrue. And Tom Williams, we finally identified that he heard it from Jim Webb, who wrote Fields of Fire and was Assistant Secretary of the Navy or something like that. Well, he was an Annapolis classmate of Tom's, and Jim was going around the country doing the radio shows, pushing his book, and that is where he was throwing this out. But it is patently untrue. The VA, who has the best data... Suicide data, for one, is difficult data to work with. There was lots of problems with it, but they have done the best study to date, and there is nowhere near that. And other states have done their own studies of this. I mean, it is such a statistic that really gets a reaction out of people. So a lot of people have looked at it, but it is not true. It is not even close to being true. And I am really disturbed to hear that they are still pushing it down there.

SM:
They did not do it this year, it was last year. There is the guys at the wall, the guy that go around showing they have a...

HG:
Right. I have little patience with veterans who are professional victims at this point. As we all approach 50, it is like time you get on with it, although there are many veterans who just will not ever get on with it. And so they identify themselves with the fact that they have been victimized, and they have never moved on to a survivor identity. So they are stuck in Vietnam and they will never make it home.

SM:
Are many of those peoples not diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, they just do not move on?

HG:
They just do not move on. And that is true of any war. Not everybody gets over it. And so we owe them. Lincoln said, when the VA was created, care for the, what is it? "Care for the Warrior and for his wife and for his orphan, for his widow, and for his orphan." But that does not make it sell to Vietnam veterans as a group and not come home and off themselves as a way of dealing with what they found when they came home. That is not true at all.

SM:
Remember when we did the program back in (19)85? That was a big issue even back then, because we had the Harry Gaffney, who would always dress in a suit, and Dan Fraley would dress in a suit, remember? And then you would go down to the Vietnam Memorial in Philadelphia, you would see those that are still wearing their army fatigues, but that it was okay for that opening ceremony. But I remember Harry saying that there is just some people, they ought to learn to dress now. I mean, they have got to move on from it. So what are your thoughts on the former left leaders who state that their past activities and those of their peers had more negative impact on society than good? Many of the... We are talking about the David Horwitz, the Collier who wrote that book on the Destructive Generation, basically condemning the entire generation as real negative, especially those people who were on the left. That is, the war protestors. Those people took over the Democratic Party in 1968. Those people that were affiliated with Eugene McCarthy, and possibly Bobby Kennedy and certainly, oh, during that timeframe. And of course they disrupted the Democratic Convention in Chicago in (19)68, some of the Republican convention too, in a smaller way. So what are your thoughts of those people who look back on when they were younger and did things, and from a psychological perspective, what does that entail?

HG:
Well, I think we all look back at our coming of age, and we all have things to regret, and we all have things to be proud of. We can all say, "Boy, if I knew then what I know now," and I think no matter where you stand on the issue, that is a common experience. Whatever your positions are on different issues, that maturity and wisdom and the things that we pick up as we grow, we might be in a different place.

SM:
When you look at people that, either the boomers or whether... You said you have been consistent on your thoughts from then and now toward your perception of people in your age group. But what about those individuals that have kept their ideals? Another word term that has been used from our generation is that they were idealistic somewhat. Dr. King coined the phrase Dreamers, hoping for a better future for all of us, but certainly idealistic. And you almost also made a comment earlier on that many have moved on, and mellowed out, and raised families, and the idealism was just something in their youth. And that is even psychologists and psychology will say that most young people are idealistic when they are young. And as they get older, they have to raise families and get into the reality of what life is. But there are many that still live those ideas.

HG:
Mellowing out or becoming responsible to a family and all that does not mean you have to give up your ideals or change who you are, what you believe in or what you feel a lot about.

SM:
Do you feel that the people that you have worked with, the boomers, what was the percentage that they have given up their ideals and just live day to day or they still fight for things?

HG:
Fight for issues? Well, certainly the populace is less, if you take the voting rate, is less involved. And I could not wait to vote. I came home from Vietnam and I was not old enough to vote, or old enough to have a drink in the state of Pennsylvania as I was laying in the Naval Hospital in South Philadelphia. But once I became old enough to vote, I vote, I vote regularly, and I stay aware of what the issues are and I try to understand the world that is going on around me. The people I spend a lot of time with and who are in my generation seem to do the same thing. We can talk about it. In my experience, we have not lost our passion. We are not 19 with a lot of free time on our hands, but we can write letters, we can make donations to political organizations, we can join political organizations. We can do things like that to try and continue to support our vision of what we think America ought to be.

SM:
I have a list of names here that I would just like you just comment your thoughts on them. If you were to try to place the following names in the minds of boomers, what overall reaction we do for the following names? I would like your thoughts, just a couple sentences on each of these individuals personally, and maybe if you can speak for the boomers, try to think what they think of them today now that they are almost 50. First name is Tom Hayden.

HG:
Well, from what I understand, he was an effective legislator in California, and that is really all I know about him. Besides the fact that he was married to Jane Fonda.

SM:
How about the fact that he protested, went to Hanoi and all the other things?

HG:
So did Jane.

SM:
Now as a Vietnam veteran, have you forgiven them for that?

HG:
I never had a problem with him doing it. I personally felt, again, to confuse the warrior with the war was the big mistake. What I had hard feelings about with the American society was they confused the warrior with the war. I did not have any problem at all with what people felt about the war, but I really felt that they should not be hostile or against the warriors, meaning the Americans who went over and pursued what the government policy was.

SM:
So again, getting back, and I am going to put Jane Fonda in here too, because she is down further. One of the things when I go to the wall is that is the name that is up on all the details. Jane Fonda bitch, upside down. I have a picture of a Vietnam veteran, I think I told you on the phone, with an artificial arm and an artificial leg, and he has got these big badges and I think they even sell them down there. It is like that is the name. Jane Fonda seems to be the name that you see on the badges.

HG:
I never heard Jane Fonda say anything against Vietnam veterans except we were being abused or used by the government. She even tried to... She made a movie, Coming Home, which was one of the better movies about Vietnam veterans' adjustments and issues, and that was 1980.

SM:
Okay, then what draws the ire of people? She was in Hanoi, that picture that that was taken, of course the North Vietnamese should win. Of course, they are fighting. That is the enemy of the American Soldier.

HG:
And again, that that is speaking to the nature of the war. And I do not begrudge anybody their feelings about the war and the validity of the war. But if you are going to say something about the warriors that carried out that war, then I have a problem with it.

SM:
Lyndon Johnson?

HG:
I feel that he was a good president, that the Great Society and many other programs that he created were important programs that were... I believe the government should have been getting involved in these issues.

SM:
In terms of him bringing the troops to Vietnam, he was the guy that brought the first large numbers of troops. You do not begrudge him or have a negativity toward him?

HG:
Yeah, we had a mindset that we had won the Second World War. It was the same mindset that got a lot of guys killed in Korea, and it was felt that it was just like in Desert Storm. And Desert Storm worked out really nice. Vietnam did not, but basically, they were very similar actions. We felt that if Vietnam fell, the domino theory, all the Southeast Asian countries were going to become communist strongholds, and this was against our strategic interest. So we got involved to try and prevent this. I mean, that is what it was all about.

SM:
How about Bobby Kennedy?

HG:
It is funny. I was in Vietnam most of 1968, so I did not even know when people were getting killed. They did not tell us.

SM:
Really? How long was it before you knew that Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy were killed within a two month-

HG:
I found out when I came back home.

SM:
Really?

HG:
Yeah. Anything that happened in 1968, I went over in early March, and I got back on December 5th, and they were not... For example, when Martin Luther King got killed, they were not playing us up as big news. We only had one radio station, Armed Forces Radio, and they were not playing that up, and I can imagine why they were not. And same thing with Bobby Kennedy.

SM:
What are your thoughts on him though, as you think back on the boomers?

HG:
I thought that had he not been assassinated, he might have made a good president.

SM:
How about Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin?

HG:
I think of them in the same terms. Actually, the thing that we were watching a week ago was a special on the serial murders, and Charles Manson was in there, and my wife was saying, "I seem to remember something about him." But she was only seven or eight at the time, and this guy was nuts, and did crazy things. And I think of these people as individuals who were in the right moment at the right time, and they got their 15 minutes of fame. And I do not have any enduring feelings about them one way or another. I think Abbie Hoffman died in New Hope of an overdose. That is what I think about him. It does not sound, from what I read at the time, it did not sound like he ever got over the (19)60s.

SM:
Right. What is interesting, Jerry Rubin was criticized often as selling out because he went on to become a successful businessman. He got killed in a crime. I thought it was interesting. He was doing something illegal when he got killed. He was crossing the highway in LA, jaywalking, and he got run over, but he was a successful businessman. Whereas Abbie Hoffman, the Yippies, that period, that was just a bunch of, you satisfy this one issue and we will find another issue, that kind of mentality. Yet he did live his entire life as an activist, because he tried to fight to save the Hudson River.

HG:
He was here to fight the pumping station on the Delaware.

SM:
And I guess what struck me, not so much the eccentricity of the man, but the fact that the way he died, and the fact that as he was older, because he was about 54 or 53 when he killed himself, he only had $2,000 in the bank, and he had given all his money away. And that suicide note or something like that is they said he had nothing more to live for because no one was listening to him anymore. And I thought, "Ooh, is there something to be said there? Is this the fate of the boomers?" Even though he is only one person, is this the fate of the boomers and all the issues that they cared about when they talk about today's young people who have their own issues. When you talk about the issue of civil rights, that we have still got racism there. "I do not want to hear about it. I do not have other problems. I want to get a good job. And we got our own problems here, and you are just living in the past." So that is what struck me about Abbie Hoffman more than... He was a legitimate activist, but his earlier years hurt him because he played all these games as a Yippie. As he matured, he was a mature activist. So I am wondering what that says about our generation, in terms of...

HG:
He is clearly in a minority and most of us are not, do not spend our lifetime being activists, at least in that sense.

SM:
How about Timothy Leary?

HG:
He just died of cancer. For someone who had made it into academia, Harvard, and he developed some psychological constructs that are still useful today, that people still talk about them. And I learned them, and was surprised to know that that was him. I originally at the time thought he was just wispy professor that was on the fringe, but he was very much a part of the establishment. You cannot get much more than faculty at Harvard. And he gave all that up.

SM:
To get into the drug scene.

HG:
Yeah. I could not imagine why he would, why he revoke all of that.

SM:
Name a couple more here. Huey Newton?

HG:
I think the Black Panthers, was not he?

SM:
Mm-hmm.

HG:
All right. My experience with the Black Panthers was kind of a fascination with them. That felt like, well, if everyone is talking about revolution, this is as close as you can get to revolution, armed revolution, and that is my association to him.

SM:
It is sad, too, that I think he was gunned down in Oakland when he eventually died in later years, in the late (19)80s. Ralph Nader?

HG:
A fellow alum, who is still fighting for the consumer. I think world is a safer place for Ralph, and it is good that we have him.

SM:
He is an example of a guy who has been an actor his whole life. He goes from one cause to another.

HG:
Most of them have to do with protecting the citizens from big business.

SM:
George McGovern?

HG:
He seem like a nice man.

SM:
Boomers latched on to him in 1972 in large numbers, even though he got clobbered in the election. Many people blame him for the demise of the Democratic Party, or part of the demise. It is basically a lot of the Democrats, McCarthy, and Mondale, and Jimmy Carter, and Dukakis, they bunch all these people in together, and other Democrats of that era, Hubert Humphrey. He is a liberal. A lot of boomers still, when I think of the names of that era, (19)72, it is McGovern, McGovern, McGovern, McGovern. Do you still think that strikes a chord with a lot of veterans? They still think of him in positive terms?

HG:
Yeah, I guess as they think of him. Most of these people I do not think about.

SM):
They have moved on, huh?

HG:
I cannot remember the last time I thought about any of them. Yeah, certainly he was identified with getting out of war.

SM:
How about Gene McCarthy?

HG:
Do not really have any association with him. More association to Joseph.

SM:
Because of the Red scare. Of course, Eugene McCarthy was the guy that the young people started latching onto to fight against the war.

HG:
Nixon was one of them.

SM:
Yep. In fact, he is next. Richard Nixon?

HG:
My association to him is that he managed in 20-some years to come back from what I thought was probably the biggest disgrace you could possibly have. And, at least in some quarters, he kind of rehabilitated, politically rehabilitated. And I still hear people say that he was the greatest political mind around, and whatever. And I remember when Watergate was going on, I just could not believe that these people were that stupid, and that this was all going to... This stupid little project was going to bring down the presidency. And it was scary at the time.

SM:
His impact with Watergate had last lasting imprints on boomers, how they lead their lives?

HG:
It has not on me. Everybody does dirty tricks. And everybody... Maybe not everybody, and maybe this is my own lack of trust in politicians, but I assume that everybody is going to try to get away with what they can get away with in the political game.

SM:
How about George Wallace?

HG:
A racist. Did not deserve a bullet in the back.

SM:
Daniel Ellsberg?

HG:
The first word that popped into my mind was a patriot. We were talking about that earlier. He did what he felt he had to do. He took on the federal government, which is no small thing.

SM:
Hubert Humphrey?

HG:
The memory I have of him is that he supported programs that took care of people.

SM:
And Robert McNamara?

HG:
Well, I did not buy his book, I am sorry to hear he is distressed with his performance in the war. Then again, Secretary of Defense, all you do is provide your opinion. You do not make the decision.

SM:
But he is criticized for holding his opinion back.

HG:
I do not believe that. I believe that that opinion was represented at the highest levels of government. And if he did not share it, someone else would. Certainly from what I have read, is there was a group that always felt that it was a losing proposition from the start. And there was always someone around who would take that position. It was not like everyone was telling the president, "Oh, yes, we are going to win this one." And it became in (19)67, (19)68, not the question of would we leave, but how are we going to leave, and how do we do it and look good, and how do we manage it politically?

SM:
Do you think inviting him to the wall would be, and having him come to the wall would be positive or negative, if he would come?

HG:
I think it could be positive.

SM:
I do not know what [inaudible] would think, but I have a sense, knowing he is very open-minded that he would like him to come, and just like Lewis Puller believes we need to heal. Bill Clinton, all of need to come at some juncture. And it is not an interesting too, that the only president who has visited the wall is President Clinton. Ronald Reagan did not come. Neither did George Bush. And it is amazing. I do not know if they have invited Jimmy Carter ever, but I know that Al Gore was there once to speak before he was a candidate, John Kennedy?

HG:
Well, I was not old enough to really know what was going on. My enduring memory of John Kennedy was I was in ninth grade when he and Nixon were running against each other, and the class was arbitrarily split in half, and I was made a Nixon devotee, and had to argue that Nixon should be elected.

SM:
You look at the assassinations of Johnson, not Johnson, assassinations of both Kennedys and Martin Luther King, and then in a smaller way, of Malcolm X and Medgar Evers, and the bombing of kids down in that church in the south. And then, of course, the attempted assassination of George Wallace. They were all over a period of time. How does that affect the boomers in terms of their psyche?

HG:
Well, I think it was a traumatic time, to have the president assassinated. Makes you feel pretty helpless.

SM:
As a professional psychologist, you cannot have 60 million people in front of you. But if you were to analyze the effect that this man had on, remembering that that boomers would only be, what, 14 when John Kennedy was killed? The earliest boomers. The oldest boomers. I met him, by the way, when I was a kid at Hyde Park, just by accident, and had a chance to shake his hand. But just for a brief moment, he had an impact on me back in 1960. That was when he was at Hyde Park. But the sense that things would have been different, but you cannot always project what may have been. You got to deal with what is. Do you think boomers, I know they do not think about it, but in the subconscious they may be thinking, "What if John Kennedy had lived? What if Martin Luther King had lived? What if Bobby Kennedy had lived?" All these what ifs. Because some of the what ifs, if John Kennedy had lived there may not have been a Vietnam War. We may have not sent the troops over, but there is no proof that there would have for that.

HG:
Well, he sent the first ones there.

SM:
Right.

HG:
What I remember about John Kennedy is the Cuban missile prices. And I was convinced we were all going to get nuked. And that is from going through it, and then watching things on TV or reading about it, you realize how extraordinary that was, to take that position. What would have happened if he would not have, and they would put more and more missiles on Cuba. That really was a time, in everything I have read and watched, that that really was a time when we could have had a nuclear war. That was the one time that it could have went either way.

SM:
Getting back to the question on the psychology, has this... What effect has that had on the generation in terms of-

HG:
Well, I do not know if it has had any effect on our generation as opposed to the rest of the populace. None of us voted to put him in office. None of us probably paid much attention to his campaigning. And I remember the big point in the election was, well, he was a Catholic. We have never had a Catholic elected president. So I would guess that it probably would have had more of an impact on the adults who were involved in the election and had voted for him. And I did not really know what he stood for when he was elected. And no, I do not know that it had big an impact at all on our generation.

SM:
A couple of more people here, Spiro Agnew?

HG:
Another crook. And the only person I ever knew that used the word effete.

SM:
Muhammad Ali?

HG:
As I have gotten older, I have come to admire him for his position. He took on military service. Because I remember when Elvis went in the service. And he went in, he put his time in. That was the expectation. And Muhammad Ali said, "No." I had always admired him as a fighter and as a boxer.

SM:
How about Barry Goldwater?

HG:
I did not really know much about Barry Goldwater. I did not have much of a reaction to him. All I remember is the bumper stickers, AUH2O. He was not a major player as I knew.

SM:
How about Dr. Benjamin Spock?

HG:
Well, I did not read his book. I knew that he was against the war and was an activist. And all I remember thinking is he could have stuck to being a doctor. Being a doctor does not necessarily make you knowledgeable about the bigger world, and the issues of war and peace.

SM:
And Gerald Ford?

HG:
He was the first president I voted for. Maybe the second. That is right, I voted for Nixon in (19)72. It was only recently that I finally voted for somebody who got elected. Yeah, Clinton from the first. Now I voted for Nixon, and he got elected. But that was my first vote, and...

HG:
Yeah, that was my first vote and I felt he had experience and the alternative... At that time, I thought we needed people with experience, but since then until Bill Clinton, everybody I voted for lost.

SM:
I have not voted for too many winners either. How about Sam Ervin, the person who headed the Watergate Committee?

HG:
I just remember watching him on TV and he seemed fair and impartial and I mean, I thought that was great drama.

SM:
And John Dean.

HG:
Well, I bought his book, Blind Ambition and read it, and then I watched a movie where Martin, what has he called, played him.

SM:
Martin Sheen?

HG:
Yeah.

SM:
Okay.

HG:
Played him. Yeah, he seemed like he was in over his head.

SM:
He spilled the beans though. He just...

HG:
Well, yeah, when he started to see that he was going to go for a ride.

SM:
And John Mitchell.

HG:
John Mitchell, he was a crook too when it came down to it. Our highest judicial officer. And he was a crook too.

SM:
How about the musicians of the era? I will just put like Bob Dylan and Jimmy Hendricks and Janis Joplin, those are the types.

HG:
Actually, my taste in music was like early to mid (19)60s and that kind of real hard stuff. I have gotten an appreciation for it as I have gotten older. I did not at the time. Yeah.

SM:
Because at that time, a lot of the era, the society of young people listen to that music and they think about the war and the big issues in society, and there was a lot of social commentary in the music and it kind of excited me. You wanted to get out there.

HG:
I was listening to Motown all the time and they did not sing about any of that. They were not commenting about anything except men and women and falling in love stuff.

SM:
And the last name here I have is Gloria Steinem. A lot of the women's movement people you know.

HG:
Right. I have come to appreciate the women's movement, although to the degree they want to become men. I think they were nuts because they had a better deal as a woman whether they realize it or not, in many ways. Much of what men are about in this culture and have been is very unhealthy.

SM:
Do you think the movement has changed from the early (19)70s to what it is today?

HG:
Well, yeah, I think everyone agrees there has been gains and they were fighting very basic issues. Well, first of all, they were fighting to be taken seriously, and I think they are taken seriously today.

SM:
What do you think of the Berrigan brothers? They burned the documents there and they went to jail for it.

HG:
Again, they were priests or brothers or something like that.

SM:
Yes, Philip and Daniel Berrigan.

HG:
I am just thinking that they must have been acting out of their conscience.

SM:
And the last one is Martin Luther King Jr.

HG:
I felt that he did have a dream and that he pursued that, that in his death he became more important than he may have become, had he not been assassinated. He became the symbol, and I think he helped polarize people around the issues and not just black against white. I think a lot of whites moved to support racial equality as a result of what happened to him.

SM:
In all these names that I have given, whether they be positive or negatives, do you still feel tremendous bitterness toward any of them at all in your thoughts? Say your thoughts 10 years ago, 15 years ago, back in, when you came back from the service, from early (19)70s to now, was there a period when you may have felt that negative toward them, but now it since time has passed-

HG:
No, I did not feel bitter towards any of them. I mean, I can certainly disagree with people.

SM:
How do you explain then a lot of the, again, I will not say a lot, but some of the commentary that is out there that as soon as they start talking in political terms, the politics of the day, they will refer back to those times. And you just mentioned the name, whether it be a, I do not want to say the Berrigans, I do not want to talk about them anymore, but any of the activists of that era, the Tom Hayden, I can imagine what they are going to say about him when he goes to the convention in Chicago because he was out protesting in (19)68. Now he is going to be inside the convention as a delegate from California. And the commentary that will be out there is, "Well, look, this party has not come anywhere. Look at that. The guy who protests is now inside. So the liberals are still in charge." And I am not saying I am a liberal or conservative, I am trying to be fair here, but there are many people that just cannot forget and cannot forgive. Congressman Dornan, for example.

HG:
He is not a good example of anything.

SM:
But he goes ballistic.

HG:
Nuts.

SM:
And Don Bailey, which we all witnessed in (19)85. And then I have a few people that I have witnessed down at The Wall who just talk amongst themselves and I just listen. It is just amazing, some of the things they say. Do you feel these are in the minority, that these people are in the minority now as opposed to-

HG:
Sure.

SM:
Okay.

HG:
Yeah, extremists are a minority by definition. Thank God there are not that many Bob Dornan around.

SM:
Yeah. What is amazing about him is he served this country well and he fought in the Korean War there is a lot of good things about him, but boy, when he starts talking about his opponents, it is really below the belt.

HG:
Well, I think personally, having been through it all myself, having served in combat or been wounded or this or that, that does not necessarily prepare you for anything. You can still be nuts. You can still be out on a limb. You can still have just really weird ideas.

SM:
Could you comment on the generation gap in the (19)60s and early (19)70s and the generation gap, if you sense one today between boomers and Generation X?

HG:
Well, my sense of it is that today's young people did not get the same kind of introduction to certain values and beliefs and practices that our generation did. At least my experience was, my parents passed on their values and beliefs and practices, and there was a lot of should, should, should, should. And so your choice was to accept that or reject it or negotiate what you are going to accept and what you are going to reject. And my sense today is that there is a lot less of that. I guess the boomers have tried to encourage younger people to make more decisions for themselves and to be more of their own person. But that I think can make the process harder as far as finding out who you are and what you do believe in and what is important to you and how important it is to you.

SM:
That generation gap, there is a couple of books written on the (19)60s about the generation gap between the World War II generation and boomers and trying to understand that, a lot of it was what you talked about earlier, the status quo and being different, wanting to be different.

HG:
There was books on the me decade or the me generation and the ones I read just took it to an extreme and maybe a Leary or someone, but the idea of gaining self-knowledge and understanding yourself I think is important. And sure anything, can be taken to an extreme. I believe that in the end, we do not have the answer for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for all of us. We are all in this together. And anything that diminishes others in the end will diminish us. And so we are either all going to make it or we are not. But the strides the human race has made, we have made not through competition and aggression, but we have made through working together. That is how the human race has come as far as it has. And 10,000 years working together for the common good is where it is at-

SM:
See, that is interesting because that is another commentary. And when they talk about boomers is they were very impatient. It was on the category, they were an impatient group because they saw things as they were the status quo, and they had seen the roadblocks all these years for the status quo remaining. So they said, the heck with this, we want it now. That is where that revolutionary rhetoric came. And so they were not going to wait, even when you look at Dr. King at his non-violent protest, it was actually not a condemnation of Thurgood Marshall and the gradualist approach through the courts. But it was saying well, there was another way, and certainly we admired, but we want it now. We were not going to put up with the road blocks anymore. We were going to end segregation. We were not going to wait for the courts to do it for us. So there was kind of a symbolic thing that passed off into the boomers, that they were an impatient group at times, wanting it now. And that many of these boomers are now in positions of authority and responsibility, and what characteristics, are they still using that quality in their own everyday lives of wanting it now, not going through the process?

HG:
I think being young and all young people are impatient. I think Martin Luther King used a non-violent approach because it was very powerful. He learned that from Gandhi and you do not have to the amount of power and with a lot less of a downside than if you try to have a revolution and overtake something.

SM:
What has been the lasting legacy of the boomer generation?

HG:
Well, I feel that we were a hopeful generation.

SM:
The legacy of the boomer generation.

HG:
Well, as I said, I think we were a hopeful generation. The motivations of the generation were to make American culture and society, I will say more user-friendly, and to take care of those who needed help.

SM:
And as a follow-up, you feel that is one of the real good things about the boomers.

HG:
[inaudible]

SM:
What role, if any, does activism in the boomer generation penetrate into the lives of their children, Generation X?

HG:
I do not know if I can answer that. I do not have children.

SM:
I put that question in there because it is a biased question on my part, even though it is supposed to be fair here. I do not see a whole lot of activism amongst today's college students, except I see a tremendous amount of volunteerism. 85 percent of our students today and nation are involved and volunteer, which means they care about others. But in some sense, they feel somewhat lack of empowerment, because they do not vote. All the time, low numbers in terms of college students and young people. I think 18 to 24-year-old who vote, it just like amazes me. And of course we know from the data how they feel about elected leaders and their distaste for politics and wanting to become involved in politics. It is like what, between 15 percent and 17 percent in some of the entering classes, last two years amongst entering freshmen in higher education. Their interest in politics is way-way down, yet their interest in volunteerism is way-way up. So I am just trying to see what the perceptions are of those individuals who may work with them or have kids and so forth. Just again, let me repeat this, even though it may seem repetitive, do you think it is possible to heal within a generation where differences and positions taken were so extreme? Is it important to try to assist in this healing process? Should we care? And is it feasible? And the premise of this question goes back again to the many trips that I have taken to The Wall in Washington over the last five years basically. And I have been to several ceremonies with veterans in the audience and commentary like, they hate Bill Clinton. They hate Jane Fonda. They hate those who protested the war and never gave veterans a royal welcome on the return of the mainland. The Wall has helped in a magnificent way, but the hate seems to remain for those on the other side, should have never be made to assist in this healing beyond The Wall. Your thoughts? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? And again, maybe I am just seeing a very small group of people that always come to The Wall every year during those ceremonies.

HG:
Well, I mean, I have been to The Wall, I have been to the ceremonies down in the Philadelphia Memorial and I have talked to 1000s of veterans. I would say at this point in time, there was a clear minority who have not been able to come home from Vietnam and continue to identify with some kind of Vietnam dynamic as opposed to, I am a Vietnam veteran, I was there, but it was not something I tell people about myself. It is not something I think about or remember. I got too many other things that are more here and now and I have a whole other identity. And this is one part. And I think that is where the majority of Vietnam veterans are today. I think we can heal a lot of veterans and a lot of people that did not go ahead and hard feelings 20, 25, 30 years ago.

SM:
Do you have any [inaudible] people you have gotten to know who regret that they did not go? There is a guilt complex? [inaudible]

HG:
Well, there was a couple of people that wrote famous articles in the early (19)80s. It was almost getting to the point where it was in to be a Vietnam veteran, but it did not, and it has not, I do not think it ever will be. I felt the same way for them that I felt for McNamara, you have got your burdens to bear from the Vietnam era and I have got mine. I feel like everybody's a Vietnam veteran who lived through that period in America.

SM:
Even those who did not go?

HG:
Yeah, Women, mothers that sent their sons off. We all went through that period. We all suffered through that and watched it unfold and were upset by it.

SM:
Historian sociologists will say there has been two real traumatic experiences in American history that have come close to tearing the nation apart. Of course, most people will agree that you cannot really put the Civil War on the same scale as the Vietnam War, but it is close. Because when you look at what was happening here at home and the breakdown of the college campuses, the shutting down of college campuses in the cities and the protests in Washington and all over the country, and the divisions were there. I mean, it was just like, you cut it with a cake, when you are in the room with someone who was against you or for you. And there was not a whole lot of listening either between those who were for or against. Not just that issue, but there were a lot of other issues too. So those were tough times. Bear with me, I have just got a few more questions and we are done. Again, this is getting back, it sounds like a little repetitive here. Do you think we will ever have the trust for elect leaders again after the debacle of Vietnam and Watergate? If boomers’ distrust, what effect is this having on the current generation of youth? I think we have covered that in an earlier question. How did the youth of the (19)60s and early (19)70s change your life and attitudes toward that and future generations?

HG:
My experiences in the (19)60s, (19)70s?

SM:
Just overall, how did the young people of that era, of the (19)60s and early (19)70s, because when you think of the (19)60s, people will really say that the (19)60s is really (19)65 to (19)73, (19)72, (19)73 ish, that juncture. Then it goes into the (19)70s, which is the me decade and all this other stuff. So how did that change your life, the attitudes and all those things you were witnessing and seeing? Certainly the young man who went, before you went over, was different than the young man that came back.

HG:
I do not know how much of an impact on me because at that point I was trying to physically and mentally and emotionally find out who I was, now that I was different, I was very different. And I was in and out of the hospital most of that period. Well, from the end of (19)68 through (19)73 or (19)74, at a military hospital, [inaudible], I was very protected and insulated against a lot of this.

SM:
Were you were injured on the front lines during the war? Were you in the Army or the Marine Team Corps? Did you step in a booby trap or you were-

HG:
The guy in front of me did. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I was no longer in the service. I was retired, but I was in the hospital having reconstructive surgery done for most of that time, and everybody around me was in uniforms. And so it did not have as much reality for me as, I guess if I would have been home living there seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

SM:
There is a brand-new book out right now called Quarantine Diary. Have you heard of it? There was a documentary on it. It was written by Jack Reid who was a Vietnam veteran from Texas. And it is a story about, well, there was an encampment that was overrun by the American soldiers and North Vietnamese army. And he took one of these little diaries and he thought it was from a dead Vietnam veteran. And he kept that in his backpack at his home for over 20 years after he came back from Vietnam. He served there, I think (19)68, (19)69, thought the guy was dead. And finally he had a hard time healing and was having a hard time, and so he decided, somebody encouraged him to try to find the family in Vietnam of this dead soldier.

HG:
Actually, the Vietnam Veterans of America has a whole program now to try and return kind of personal memorabilia like this, to get it back to survivors of these soldiers in Vietnam. It might have been in that program that he got some encouragement.

SM:
Well, actually the guy was still alive. It was a mistake. But the thing what came out in this book was that there was a concern that he brought forth, and that is that many of the Vietnam veterans went over there and saw their buddies get killed and they just wanted to kill Charlie, and they would go into a village and sometimes kill others. And so there was a sense of, it was not premeditated, but it was like a vengeance, I want to get back at the person who killed my friend. And thus he tried to bring over the fact that when he came back to America, he did not know what kind of an impact this had on him in terms of when he saw violence happen or someone was killed. He had no sensitivity. There was no sensitivity toward it because he had seen it all in Vietnam and seen people killed, kids killed, older people killed and so forth. And what he was before he went over there and what he was when he came back again, was a totally different person. And he was very concerned that when he saw tragedies on television and death and murder in America, that did not ring, it did not really strike him as anything out of the ordinary because he had witnessed it all in Vietnam as a different person. In fact, he would kill himself and things he never told his parents about. And I guess the question I am getting at here is, this is not a condemnation of Vietnam veterans. It is basically looking at the warrior and all warriors in all wars, that when they come back and they see violence, and of course the media portrays it on television all the time too, the violence, we were no longer sensitive toward it anymore. It is just an everyday happening. And I guess a question I want to ask also to you, as a result of the boomer generation in World War II, we did not see these things. There were not films taken of dead people, but during this era there was. And then of course it is documented much more in the stories too, of Vietnam veterans. That is this another quality of the boomer generations that is different than others, is this accepting violence as an everyday happening? Even not only those who went but those who saw it on television. "Oh, that is just part of being a part of a living human being." And so then this had transferred on to young people.

HG:
Well, I see much more of that today, where you turn on the local news and somebody has probably been murdered or run over and that is what they put on. And they show the body or the blood trail or the pool of blood or the spent casings in the drive-by shooting. That is happening today. I still remember things were not that gory on evening news and during the Vietnam era, at least they were not on CBS.

SM:
It did show that one scene where the South Vietnam soldiers shot that one, that was [inaudible] and you saw the young girl running down the road burned.

HG:
Yeah, those were the exceptions. That is why they became timeless.

SM:
One of the best history books ever written on the growing up years for the boomers, say in 25 to 50 years from now, and I was a history major, political science, and they say the best books of any period are 50 years afterwards. The best books in the World War II are now, really good books. Stephen Ambrose, really good books. What will be the overall evaluation of boomers? I talked to you about the lot of Left leaders are condemning their whole backgrounds, like Horowitz and the destructive generation. There is a lot of good books, like Lewis Puller talking about one of the best books ever written. He deserved the Pulitzer. What a writer. He should not have killed himself. He had such a skill in writing, that is why he was hired at George Mason University to teach writing to young people, because he knew how to write. What do you think historians, how will they write about this period, the (19)60s and early (19)70s in 25 years when it is that 50-year period? How would you project they will look at this whole era and the young people that came out of this era?

HG:
Well, I think they will identify it as a period of questioning the status quo, large numbers of the generation.

SM:
And that they say that it is an identity of a group that questioned the status quo. What was the impact? The concept that the boomers feel empowered and why do not Generation X, the children feel that way of boomers? That is amazing. When you had these people who felt empowered and yet their kids do not, not all, there is some that probably do, but not as empowered as their parents.

HG:
I do not know.

SM:
It is something you cannot quite answer, huh?

HG:
NO, it is too bad, if our legacy is that our children become passive and introverted and are focused on only themselves and their own needs.

SM:
Final question here, is the youth of that era believed they could have an impact on society, government policy. The (19)60s and early (19)70s is the Vietnam War policy, the draft, civil rights legislation, non-violent protests via Dr. King and the multiple movements that I have already described. In other words, that concept of empowerment, which is a term we use in higher education today. We want young people to know that they are at this university, they are empowered. They say, "What? I am only a young person of 18. What do you mean I am empowered?" Well, we are here at your leisure. And so you get involved in things and you give them a sense of empower. Why is society today resisting this today? And why, in your own words, do the sons and daughters of boomers feel less confident about their ability to have an impact on society and oftentimes less desire and seemingly less opportunity? This is just a concept that I have and I am trying to find out here. Am I wrong in assuming this in the question?

HG:
No, I do not think you are wrong in assuming it.

SM:
Do you have any answers, any more commentary on that or-

HG:
No, I think my brain is fried. I mean, we use empowerment in the healing professions. The idea is to empower. I mean, I believe it is much better to teach somebody to fish than to give them a fish if they are hungry. To not do for them as much as to teach them to do for themselves. That is where the real payoff is for them and society.

SM:
I think we are almost done here and we are down to the last thing here, but I want to follow up. Since you are a person who is a professional psychologist, what are the most important qualities for healing? When you talk about just a general concept of healing, especially if you were around a group of Vietnam veterans who was at The Wall and you kept overhearing this commentary, of course you would not butt in, but if you were in a room with them and had an opportunity to talk to them, what would you tell them in terms of-

HG:
Well, I would say that healing is a process, not an event. It requires a willingness to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. It is an active process, not a passive process. And you need to find-

(End of Interview)

Date of Interview

1996-07-29

Interviewer

Stephen McKiernan

Interviewee

Dr. Henry Franklin Graff

Biographical Text

Dr. Henry Franklin Graff is Professor Emeritus of History, specializes in the social and political history of the United States. He is the author of The Glorious Republic, and the editor of The Presidents: A Reference History, as well as several books and articles. Dr. Graff received his B.A. from the City College of New York, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Columbia University.

Duration

02:04:59

Language

english

Digital Publisher

Binghamton University Libraries

Digital Format

audio/mp4

Material Type

Sound

Interview Format

Audio

Subject LCSH

Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Veterans

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Keywords

War protesters; Robert F. Kennedy; Veterans; War injuries; Vietnam War; Media; Civil rights legislation; Empowerment; Healing; Vietnam Memorial; Baby boom generation; McCarthyism; Alcoholism; Generational gap; Lyndon B. Johnson; Trust.

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henry-graff.jpg

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About this Collection

Collection Description

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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Citation

“Interview with Dr. Henry Franklin Graff,” Digital Collections, accessed April 25, 2024, https://omeka.binghamton.edu/omeka/items/show/887.