Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing... Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time passing... They've gone to graveyards ev'ry one. Oh, When will you ever learn?.... -Adapted from "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?" by Pete Seeger
"Rhythmic Spanish names. Tongue-twisting Polish names, guttural German, exotic African, homely Anglo-Saxon names," wrote Newsweek editor-in-chief William Broyles, who served in Vietnam as a Marine infantry lieutenant. "Chinese, Polynesian, Indian, and Russian names. They are names which run deep into the heart of America, each testimony to a family's decision, sometime in the past, to wrench itself from home and culture to test our country's promise of new opportunities and a better life. They are names drawn from the farthest corners of the world and then, in this generation, sent to another distant corner in a war America has done its best to forget. But to hear the names being read...is to remember. The war was about names, each name a special human being who never came home."Scruggs, Jan C. To Heal a Nation - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Harper & Row Publishers. New York: 1985.
It would seem that time and distance erode memory. We adjust, we lose the intensity....For many of us, years later, Vietnam is seen with a certain tempered nostalgia. A half-remembered adventure. We feel, many of us, proud of having "been there," forgetting the terror complex and ambiguous issues of the Vietnam War....What to fight for? When, if ever, to use armed forces as instruments of foreign policy? What regimes to support, and how, and under what conditions? To what extent and by what means do we, as a nation, try to make good on our beliefs and principles - opposing tyranny, preserving freedoms, resisting aggression?.... Scruggs, Jan C. To Heal a Nation - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Harper & Row Publishers. New York: 1985.
Indeed Mauthausen (1945), like the other camps, was the stuff of which nightmares are made. George E. King was probably not alone in feeling victimized by his very presence in the camp, even as a liberator. He described one of his dreams: "You are the captured. And you go through this agonizing labor of trying to escape. In these cases you are always moving in slow motion, as if you were up to your hips in mud...you are making a maximum effort to run, but you are just barely moving...." The fear of becoming one of the prisoners; assuaging guilt over not being one by joining the imprisoned in one's dreams; being tortured by the memory of all that surrounded one - these were some of the dreadful themes that only sometimes surfaced in the conscious or even dream world of the liberator. Abzug, Robert H. Inside the Vicious Heart. Oxford University Press. New York: 1985.