Thursday, January 31, 2008


This Day in the History of Being Misinformed by the Media

On this day in 1968, the Viet Cong, as we had been hoping and praying for, came out and fought a stand-up war. A 19 man squad from the Saigon cadre breached the outside wall of our embassy there but did not get into the building (the History Channel web site gets this little fact wrong), Their officers were killed at the beginning and those left milled about aimlessly on the grounds for hours until a more heavily armed reaction force arrived and all but one of the surviving VC were killed. To the left is one of that victorious squad.
In fact, we killed Viet Cong at such a rate that they had fleeting success only in Hue, which was retaken in February. The VC were not a factor in the war after Tet. Despite the extremely one sided victory for the good guys, somehow, mainly by the way our success was covered by the media, the idea that the Viet Cong could stage a large scale attack, albeit a complete fiasco, morphed into the idea that they were successful and we were losing. General Westmoreland was invited to ask for more troops, which he did for the very sound tactical reason that it was just the right time to surge, exploit the weakness of the VC, and win the war in months. However, he was sacked for asking for more troops and replaced by General Creighton Abrams who did more with less and all but won the war against the invading NVA regulars by the time our last combat troops left in 1973.

Labels: ,

Oh my name is Penny Evans,
And my age is twenty-one;
A young widow in the war
That's being faught in Vietnam.
And I have two infant daughters
And I do the best I can;
Now they say the war is over,
But I think it's just begun.

And I remember I was seventeen
On the day I met young Bill.
On his father's grand piano,
We played good old 'Heart and Soul.'
And I only knew the left hand part,
And he the right so well.
He's the only boy I slept with,
And the only one I will.

It's first we had a baby girl,
And we had two good years.
And it's next the 1 A notice came
And we parted without tears.
And it's nine months from our last good night,
Our second babe appears,
So it's ten months and a telegram,
Confirming all our fears.

And now every month I get a check
From an Army bureaucrat,
And it's every month I tear it up,
And I mail the damn thing back.
Do you think that makes it all right?
Do you think I'd fall for that?
And you can keep your bloody money.
It sure won't bring my Billy back.

I never cared for politics,
And speeches I don't understand.
And likewise never took no charity,
From any living man.
But tonight there's fifty thousand gone,
In that unhappy land,
And fifty thousand 'Heart and Souls,'
Being played with just one hand.

And my name is Penny Evans,
And I've just gone 21.
A young widow in the war
That's being fought in Vietnam.
And I have two infant daughters,
And I thank God I have no sons.
Now they say the war is over,
But I think it's just begun.
She refuses the insurance money? What a good mother. The Viet Nam War is well and truely over. Really. Thanks for the thought provoking poem. I've never seen it before

Someone is having you on. This is not a poem but a song called "The Ballad of Penny Evans" written by Steve Goodman (July 25,1948-September 20, 1984. It appears on his 1972 release, "Somebdoy Else's Troubles," which I still have on vinyl and which I have always enjoyed. He sings it unaccompanied. According to the liner notes the tune is a traditional one called "The Flying Cloud" after the clipper I presume.

Steve Goodman's best known song is "The City of New Orleans" recorded and released by Arlo Guthrie in 1972 on "Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys," I think. The story is that Goodman saw Guthrie at a club snd asked it he could sing a song for him. Guthrie said OK so long as Goodman bought him a beer, he would listen as long as the beer lasted. The song was "The City of New Orleans." Its been covered by many artists including Willie Nelson whose recording won Goodman a posthumous Grammy for best country song in 1985.

Goodman was a quintessential Chicagoan. A rabid Cubs fan, he also wrote "A Cub Fan's Dying Wish," "When the Cubs Go Marching In," and "Go. Cubs, Go" which is frequently played after Cubs home victories.

Goodman developed leukemia in 1969. He went in and out of remission but the disease took him all too soon in 1984 at age 36. Eleven days after his death, the Cubs played their first post season game in 45 years. Goodman had been scheduled to sing "The Star Spangled Banner." Jimmy Buffet filled in and dedicaed the song to Goodman. Some of his ashes were scattered at Wrigley Field.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?