Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"With me, its fully as much a matter of feeling as a matter of conscience" ~ Jane Eyre

I fear my students will never feel a passionate idealism about this country or have a strong conscience about what is just in this world.

I believe that after their viewing of "Two Days in October"
(www.pbs.org) that such feelings and consciousness lie dormant inside of them. Some of their written responses to the documentary about two days during the Vietnam War are a glimmer of hope for me. Perhaps with the right direction, we can guide them to express these ideas by speaking up and taking action about issues in this country today instead of giving the appearance of apathy.

Growing up, my father always said that if I were alive during Vietnam, I would be in the front of the protest lines, leading the crowds. I don't think that is true, especially after teaching The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.

If I were a young woman during that time, I would recognize that as a civilian I was fortunate to have the choice of whether or not to actively protest the war. The soldiers did not have a choice. They were innocent victims. I know I would want to help the innocent victims, so I would have trained as an RN and flown to Vietnam to work as a nurse.

My conscience would want to lead anti-war demonstrations, but my feelings of empathy would lead me directly to the soldiers to be a support system.

Here are a few words from my students about what they saw in the documentary:

"The Madison Police felt the students were trying to 'take over their country.' I think that is wrong because it is also the student's country." ~ Courtney

"No matter how much the American soldiers disagreed with the government spin on the ambush, they continued to fight and protect their country - that is the definition of a true soldier." ~ Liz

"Our country is in a war right now. I wonder why it is not the same way today as it was during Vietnam. There are many people who oppose the war in Iraq." ~ Sal

"Another moment that I felt was poignant was when Sewell was interviewed 35 years later after he called the police on the students and he still cried and felt guilty." ~ Kristine

"When the lieutenant of the Black Lions was actually in tears during this interview, it was evident that the events of the ambush will affect him for his entire life." ~ Ross

"Just knowing the truth and seeing how the riot and ambush were portrayed to the public by the government and media makes me think that many more incidents throughout history have been lied about or falsely portrayed." ~ Alison

"People in the U.S. have the right to speak out about what they think is wrong; they shouldn't be beaten up by the people who are supposed to protect them." ~ Yine

"The relatives recalling the information about the death of their loved ones struck me with sadness to the point that I was almost in tears. My dad was in the Marine Corp when I was a baby and fought in Desert Storm. I don't know what I or my family would have done if he died." ~ Brietta

"Its really sad that these veterans can't live a normal life and are always seeing visions of their dead friends' faces." ~ Amanda