The 60’s

© 2011 John Richter

About johnallenrichter

I am an aspiring Poet and adorer of life, a conqueror of nothing. However I am a champion curator of truth and friendship and hold both of those things most dearly to my heart. Welcome to my mind's eye. I hope you will enjoy what you may find and please know that you have a friend here. View all posts by johnallenrichter

13 responses to “The 60’s

  • mareymercy

    I like how you interweave some real cultural touchstones of that era.

    • johnallenrichter

      The 60’s were a different era. Television was new, just forging the routine things we see today. There weren’t 180 channels, just 3 if you were lucky. Watching Walter Cronkite at the 6 o’clock news hour was so prevalent in my own life I can’t imagine anyone watched the other news channels at all. Every day the images coming back from Viet Nam were overwhelming: soldiers being carried on stretchers, dead, or wounded. Wounded soldiers being interview as they lay on cots in the fields….. as they lay in the battlefield Cynthia…. I will never forget one young sergeant being interviewed by a reporter as he lay with most of his leg blown off, medics infusing his body with morphine as he spoke, smoking a cigarette, I remember thinking how tidy his hair was for someone covered in blood. No apparent pain. Just talking, remarking on the battles, not just the one that recently took his leg, but like a collection of them. I can still see his face. The reporter’s voice then narrated the story and told us that this this soldier died shortly after the interview. The military learned their lesson, they don’t allow the media to do that today. The uproar in this country was absolutely contagious and our young adults back then were protesting at every turn. But I was a child, and I needed to be a child, just as we all did at one point. But I saw these things every day, the death, the incredible callousness of human kind on both sides, Things like the My Lai Massacre and Kent State were real slaps in our faces, truth in the making and we were just witnesses to these things. Children and babies were being murdered in this far away land as though we had some kind of right to do that simply because we were tied into their hateful war. Carpet bombing complete villages full of people who were really just captives of an insane regime. I see that now but as a child, I saw but didn’t see. I needed to sit in that empty refrigerator box as a child and pretend I was in the heavens circling the earth as an astronaut. Today I feel guilty for that, for the indifference a child had for the intense suffering that was going on, and was right in front of our faces. And it’s happening today too, Cynthia, we just don’t see it. A young child my wife and I grew attached to as a neighbor several years ago was killed in Afghanistan recently when her Humvee was struck by an IED. This young, beautiful, energetic child who once rushed home with her 4th grade homework, so eager to accomplish it well, dead in some strange land, stolen from her mother and brother whose live are completely destroyed now. For what? Because some primitive non-humans decide they have some purpose and have, like monkeys, learned how to use explosives and value life with absolutely no concern whatsoever? Her life was not worth that. As a human I am ashamed that I needed to be a child and needed to sing and play once in the face of such horrible tragedy. As a poet I feel the responsibility to speak up, even in the face of my own shame. I think we as poets need to do that. To not let these things die. A very famous poet of the 1800’s remarked that poetry is alive to keep our language from dying too quickly, so we still see the ‘ere’s and twas’ and ‘tweens from our young bards today, which is beautiful. But I think it’s our duty to preserve culture as well, even when it is embarrassing. Thank you for your kind words…..

  • brian miller

    dang john….the dichotomy of the world…the innocence of being young…and not at risk…compared to those, same age, what should be the same innocence…and …ugh

    effective piece…

  • Sherry Blue Sky

    Wow, John, the photo, first of all, that seared itself into our consciousness, the poem, and your impassioned comment above – bless you for speaking the whole plain truth. Your beautiful young neighbor who rushed home from grade four and grew up to die on foreign soil………it is all so tragic and I agree with you. As poets if all we can do is bring these stories to the light of day and raise awareness, touch some hearts, we humbly do so. I always say, if the suffering can live through what they endure, we can bear witness. Not turn away. Your writing is powerful and I am glad I came across you through dVerse. Write on! (And dont feel guilty about being a child back then – I was older, and not nearly informed enough in the ’70’s. I make up for it now.)

  • Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    Ah, the stark contreasts between the young ones. The way the pictures changed our worlds.. When we saw the lies.. That’s why the power have learned to lie better today..

  • grapeling

    today we’re mostly denied the reality of war, sanitized and the airwaves kept clear for sports and “reality” tv. a powerful paean ~

  • rosross

    Yes, powerful. I think what I find depressing is that with all this remembering and the plethora of poppies, nothing has changed. Millions of people have been killed since the end of WWII – Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine – and those are only Western led wars.

  • wolfsrosebud

    your words… left me speechless… so real and sad

  • Mary

    What strong images you have written, John. Took me back in time. That photo – what a vivid reminder.

  • Gabriella

    This is very poignant, John. Being a child can mean such different things depending on where you were born and raised.

  • Matt Spence

    An amazing write. You really captured the horror of war- very visceral. Love how you ended it.

  • ayala

    Strong images, John. War is always heartbreaking.

  • kaykuala

    The 60’s was the era of ‘discoveries’ war, music, flower children, LSD.transistors, heart transplant and the computer being the major ones. There were still then respect accorded to people and countries unlike now. You’ve brought it all out into the open,John! That’s just great!


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