Jonn over at TaH has sorta beat me to the punch. I was planning to do this post next month and include reference to the VFW article he cites.
1969 was an important year. On an immediately personal level 9 May 1969 was the day I was discharged form the Navy – 5 years 10 months and 8 days of service. About two years total of that in and around VietNam.
Flew from Guam – to Japan – to Travis AFB – road to SFX (got spit at) – air again to Great Lakes Naval Training Center and was discharged there. Final ride was down to Parkersburg, WV. I was out, and footloose and fancy free.
In July 1969 we walked on the moon. I watched the landing from Cape Cod, Mass. Later (around 1980) I worked for NASA on Kauai and we were able to listen to experiments we’d left there. I got to work on the first Shuttle missions as well. Couldn’t help but feel a part of the earlier effort.
Back on Cape Cod, Planet Earth, in 1969 I was working at a resort renting sailboats and giving sailing lessons on the beach. I started hearing about an upcoming concert down in NY. A pal and I decided to go.
So Fast Eddie, myself, and our current lady friends piled into my ’59 Buick and headed south. I’d actually bought two tickets, but Fast Eddie had decided to get his there. The trip wasn’t long, but the closer we got the heavier the traffic got. By the time we got to the site traffic was crawling. We kept creeping along until, like out of some ‘B’ movie the road and formal parking area ended at a fence! We did find a parking place several miles away.
I won’t go into detail about the event – rain, mud, and music. Sunday morning we left while The Jefferson Airplane was on stage. I had to be back at work Monday.
I missed several great performances , but did get to meet Graham Nash later on Kauai.
There was no Wall in ’69. There was no place to focus when the dreams and memories showed up. For 20 years, or more, I wasn’t a ‘Nam vet. Wasn’t only me though, and I finally met some others – but that’s another story.
While I was on Kauai we had a visit from The Traveling Wall. First thing I did was visit 1969. Later at GoE I did the same at the Real Wall. Every name after 9 May 1969 is a reminder.
Does my having been at Woodstock add to my guilt? Not one iota! Should that sailor kissing the girl in Times Square in the famous VE Day photo feel a special guilt?
Thing is… painting everyone that went to Woodstock with the same brush is inaccurate, and not much fun if you’re under the brush.