Thanks to Jerry Augustine, one of the veterans in the writing group, we learned “A little history most people will never know.”
The stats piled up – the first to die, the youngest. Beyond tragic. Then I found this: “54 soldiers on the Wall attended Thomas Edison High School in Philadelphia.” The comment was I wonder why.
Here’s a theory: Thomas Edison High School was in one of the poorest areas of the city. I moved to Phila. about ten years after the first of those boys enlisted, and it had grown worse. This article is testament to the fact that almost 40 years later, nothing has improved. Even though students occupy a new building, the neighborhood continues to deteriorate. Young men are still dying, but now it’s not in service to country.
So aside from the patriotism that was far more pervasive in 1964 than now, I believe those boys joined up because that was the best option for most. There were few jobs. Many could not or did not want to attend college. So off they went to the jungles of Vietnam.
I do have one question: Why does the “little history” include only 54 names while the article says 66? Either way it’s a national tragedy.