The Ken Burns/Lynn Novick Documentary on the Vietnam War: The Untold Story  

I almost never watch anything that runs more than an hour except for a movie or a football game. If I can’t see it in one viewing, then I’m likely to not be wherever I need to be when the next part of whatever it was becomes available for watching. But I made an exception for the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary on the Vietnam War. And I am angry, not at the fact that this colossal undertaking took ten years for them to complete or that it consumed 18 hours of my life because, in all honesty, I don’t do all that much from 8 pm–9:30 pm on any given night anyway. No, I am angry at Ken Burns and Lynn Novick for the lopsided interpretation of history that was a sizable portion of my life. Their chronicle of the war itself was misleading enough (and I would love to hear how my friends, my brothers, and sisters who served in Vietnam, felt about how the war was portrayed). But Burns and Novick totally hoodwinked anyone not aware of many facts about the antiwar movement.

We saw violence in video and dialog by people like the Weathermen as well as the protesters who retaliated with violence, we saw a couple of minutes of one man who went to Canada (and there were many of them who did, and that was not making a statement. It was a cop-out). And violence is not a protest, it’s a riot. What took place with people like the Weathermen or the person who just wanted to burn and destroy is a long, long way from the protest of the 1960’s that I knew, and Burns and Novick completely ignored the peaceful resistance that I was a part of.

I would ask Ken Burns and Lynn Novick where the information is about a person like myself who not only began protesting the war in the early-to-mid-1960’s long before it was fashionable, a person who burned his draft card quietly and peacefully. In my case, much to the disappointment of my mother, I had to convince the powers-that-be to reclassify me to 1-A from 3-A—family support/fortunate son and college deferments up one arm and down the other. I also peacefully refused induction and refused alternative service. In short, I refused every way out that they offered me, and I did not run to Canada. If my brothers and sisters were putting something on the line, I had to give what I could, and what I could give was my freedom.

I will never forget the old judge, Judge McClain, who looked at me sitting in my laundry basket. Yes, my laundry basket. Since I had refused to walk and the guards didn’t want to keep carrying me (or in some cases, drag me like a rug they were taking to the junkyard), they decided to dump me in a laundry basket and wheel me about that way. I was pushed into the middle of the courtroom, and Judge McClain pulled himself up on the bench, leaned over, and peering down at me said, “I know what you will not do, Mr. Sanders, your reputation got here before you did. Will you tell me what you will do?” I thought he might burst a seam when I said I believed there are only two choices here and they were his: “The first is, if you believe in the robes you wear and the laws you have sworn to uphold, then you must send me to prison. The other is, if you do not believe in those robes and laws, take off the robes and we will go out to lunch.” He called a court recess, and in about an hour, he sent me to prison for two years with a one-year probation to follow. Not bad, I thought, since I was facing 15 years if all counts were added together.

I have given some of the details of my resistance because I know them, but I am not the only one who took this course of action. There were many more just like me who did not blow anything up or throw bombs or actively participate in a riot (although they were clubbed in places like Chicago in 1968) or run to Canada. We simply said no and gave what we could. We gave our freedom.

I sat through the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary waiting for this side of the resistance to be shown, and it never was. They claim to give all sides of an issue, but in this case, they not only missed the boat, they sank the boat, and I am about as angry as I could be about a documentary. I can’t get my 18 hours back or my two years in prison, but I would like that side of the war resistance to be told for all of those who took a non-violent path and gave all they could and lost friends and relatives and their freedom. That story has never been told.


All the News That Wasn’t

Breaking News: King Rump believes that terrorists have commandeered the carousel at the Coney Island amusement park and are making the ponies run in circles. Furthermore, he says a Giant Ape is assaulting his Rump in New York, the Towers, that is.  And in Sweden, Sweden of all places, Sweden!  people are so poor they must go to the beach without clothes. And right here at home, right in my own backyard of Rambling Harbor where marijuana has been legalized, King Rump is reporting that chickens are so stoned they no longer have any desire to cross the street.

And Now Some Truth: This blog will be published on Sunday, February 26, and the following Sunday I will be in the hospital recovering from partial knee replacement surgery scheduled to take place on Friday, March 3. I have just found out that the hospital where I will be offers free complimentary lap dancers, er, laptops. However, there is some rumor going about that his royal Rumpness has demanded that I not be allowed anywhere near a computer.

Many people know that I live alone except for my constant companion Chloe Cat. Chloe is a gentle soul, and if ever a human and an animal could be soulmates, it’s the two of us. She will be without me for an extended period for the first time in 6 years when I spent 11 days at hospice as my wife gained her wings to soar the skies and fins to sail the sea. Both my friend Sarah, who could charm the skin off a snake and frequently does, and my artist friend Michelle of Fresh Cut Glass (and by the way, if you’re looking for incredible stained glass, check her out, the website, that is, and Trump, keep your hands in your pockets) are dear friends of Chloe’s, and both will be stopping in to provide food and most of all love and companionship, and that means the world to me. Recently I have become aware that Chloe may be losing her hearing. She is completely white, and many white cats are born deaf. Chloe was older when adopted and her exact age is a mystery, but the vet thinks she is somewhere around 12 years old and her hearing has been as “a-cute” as she is. So, I can’t help but wonder if this deafness has been brought on by a desire to not hear the orange one’s annoying voice. I have asked her this question a few times over the past weeks, but she refuses to answer. She’s a cool cat and never says a purr-muring word.

On the podcasting front, that is on hold until after the surgery, but there are some ideas in the works. A great new friend from across the pond is in cahoots with me on this, but there are rumors that the round orange idiot clown, instead of draining the swamp, is trying to drain the pond. Oh, and have you heard about his Rumpness’s new idea about the wall: now he wants to build one between the U.S. and Canada as well as Mexico. I understand that Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau will help with that except for letting the chosen few through, so stay tuned.