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Maine Public is encouraging Vietnam Veterans and anyone affected by the conflict to share their own story on the Vietnam War and correspondence they had during or after the war. Submissions can be written, recorded or videotaped and sent to Maine Public at mystory@mainepublic.org. The stories will be collected and archived here and some may be shared with the greater Maine audience.Watch "Courageous Conversations."Click HERE for support opportunities for veterans in crisis.

Mark Baldwin, Surry

I didn’t go to Vietnam. I spent the war eating tear gas on the streets. I was near a lot police brutality but, with one exception, I was never roughed myself.  Strangely, one of the things I came out with was an appreciation for the passion of anti-abortion “right to life” people, whom I also opposed.

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Every day, for year after year of the war, we lived with the fact that on that day, that minute, our government was ripping people apart in Vietnam – their bodies, their way of life, and for what? It was to enrich corrupt Vietnamese thugs because they said they were “anti-communist,” and it was to justify the crap that our own best and brightest were feeding us.

We chanted, “Hey Hey LBJ, how many babies did you kill today?”  I had babies. The words were ripping.

What has this got to do with abortion?   I was, and always have been, fiercely supportive of a woman’s right to choose, but we were desperate to stop the killing and I began to see how desperate at least some of the anti-abortion people must feel. At least some of them must feel, just as I did, that there is not a minute to lose. Every day I woke up with that.
T
he war didn’t change my mind about the question of choice or no-choice, but it did give me a feeling for the urgency of people on the no-choice side. Some of them may be thoughtless and knee-jerk, but so were some of us. That doesn’t matter because for us who opposed the war and those who opposed abortion there isn’t a moment to lose.

This statement is only about how the war helped me appreciate the passion of anti-choice people. Some American soldiers in Vietnam said the same thing about the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. I have no parallel appreciation for JFK’s and LBJ’s and Nixon’s best and brightest, whose cold arrogant ivory-tower brutality would have been comfortable in any of history’s most savage regimes. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick bend reality by calling them “well-meaning.”