Music of “Nam, The Story of a Generation”

The Music of 

NAM, The Story of a Generation

In the first draft of NAM, The Story of a Generation, I led off every milestone chapter with lyrics to a song from that year that fit the context of an event in the story from the same year. For a generation that was raised on rock ‘n roll, I thought it apt and pretty cool. However, I soon discovered publishing rights and how difficult it is to obtain permission to publish lyrics from any song. The lyrics were removed. However, I can certainly tell you what the songs were, and you might keep them in mind as you go through the novel. Not a bad playlist if I say so myself.

1953: Young at Heart sung by Frank Sinatra

1956: Whatever Will Be, Will Be sung by Doris Day

1960: Mack The Knife sung by Bobby Darin

1962: Wimoweh sung by Karl Denver

1964: Mr. Lonely sung by Bobby Vinton

1965: What The World Needs Now Is Love sung by Jackie Deshannon

1967: I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag sung by Country Joe and the Fish

1968: I Am The Walrus sung by the Beatles

1968: For What It’s Worth sung by Buffalo Springfield

1969: Monster sung by Steppenwolf

1970: Fortunate Son sung by Credence Clearwater Revival

1973: Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight by James Taylor

1975: Lady sung by Styx

1998: Yesterday by Lennon and McCartney

The Vietnam Generation is beginning to fade…

The Vietnam Generation of an estimated 8 million military service members of the Vietnam era, 1964-1975, is fading.

Unlike the veterans of WWII, the Vietnam Generation “aren’t going to be around a long time, not like their fathers.” Soldiers of WWII had closure; they arrived home as heroes. Not so for their sons; their desire and hope to return home alive, to the country that they loved and fought for was met with hate and ridicule.

“For the Vietnam vet, there was never an end point, psychologically,” Wilson said. “So the impact of war continued long after the shooting stopped.”

For over forty years, the Vietnam Generation has suffered, and many in silence. Now, as the visage of this era pass away it is a bittersweet testimony, of our nation, our history and our servicemen/women.

“It’s not a good feeling” watching them pass, Vasil said. “It’s an emotional numbing, almost the same as the combat experience. The only way to survive is to become numb, because you feel so helpless.”

According to the article (2010), in the past three years “…the number of Vietnam vets seeking treatment from the VA has gone up 25 percent nationally, about 10 percent locally, and the largest category of that treatment is for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Dr. Edgardo Padin-Rivera, chief of psychological services at the Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.”

Vietnam veterans are reaching a point in their lives where they may be retired, losing the past support systems of family and friends, susceptible to depression and prime candidates for late-onset PTSD, Padin-Rivera said.

 

…As an increasing number of Vietnam vets make that final march, some look back on what their generation is leaving behind.

 

Their legacy.

 

To Carter, it’s difficult looking back. “Sometimes the thing that distresses me most is that we put forth all that effort and it seems like nobody appreciated it,” he said.

 

“We championed the PTSD issue, the Agent Orange issue and the POW/MIA issue,” he said. “You can change things. But you have to be willing to work at it.”

 

On a personal level, he said the experience “made me a much stronger person, a more caring person and opened my eyes to the horrors of war.

 

It’s not all Hollywood crap. It’s a very scary, horrible place to be.

 

“But if you can survive that,” he added, “you can survive anything.”

 

Except time.


IMAGE: Fast Patrol Crafts (PCF, Swift boat) operating up a river in Vietnam, in background Monitors and Landing Crafts, late 1960s, Naval War College Museum, USN, public domain, used with permission.

Article Source: Cleveland.com: “Vietnam generation begins to fade as death rate rises for war’s veterans” by Brian Albrecht


NAM, The Story of a Generation Synopsis

NAM, The Story of a Generation is a tale of times that defined a generation: the counter culture that grew out of it; commitment without conscience; love in impossible circumstances; the unimaginable horror of war; healing hope; and renewal. The Vietnam War is the common thread that binds together the lives and fortunes of the three main characters who are NAM, The Story of a Generation.

August 16, 1948, the day Babe Ruth died, sixteen-year old Le Van Dat, a young Vietnamese patriot, leaves to join Ho Chi Minh’s Vietminh. On the same day, Mark Cameron and JT Johnson are born into very different circumstances in the United States.

Le Van Dat is a nationalist and follower of Confucius. His consuming, idealistic drive to free his country of a thousand years of foreign occupation is fueled by a sense of personal honor and obligation to his ancestors. Though he disdains communism, Le Van Dat will rise to the rank of general in the People’s Army largely through his courage, inspiring leadership and the support of his superior officer and mentor, Tran Van Minh. Dat is intimately involved in the war’s biggest battles and carries the conflict from the novel’s first pages. His affair and infatuation with Nu Chi, a young South Vietnamese with connections to her own government, sparks a fundamental change in Dat that leads to a harrowing search and improbable resolution as the South crumbles in the spring of 1975.

 

Mark Cameron is a Montanan born into a rough neighborhood on the edge of town. He is a tough little guy who, as a young teen, finds his personality altered after a savage beating from a bully. Growing into manhood he becomes obsessed with avoiding conflict and adopts conniving ways of keeping himself out of trouble. Entering college, he is swept up by the early resistance to the Vietnam War, even though he had already joined the Naval Reserve as a high school senior. Mark enters active duty following his freshman year and meets JT Johnson at the Treasure Island Naval Station.

JT Johnson is the son of an ambitious entrepreneur who builds a golf course in Fullerton, California following World War II. JT is seen as the prodigy; the son who will live the father’s dream and become a golfing legend. Indeed, JT is a gifted athlete and excels as a youngster, winning prestigious amateur tournaments. Rich, privileged, and well-connected, Jay’s father tells the boy he will never have to serve in the military. But when JT flunks out of college, the head of the local Draft Board, a prominent antagonist of the family, arranges for JT’s draft induction. Jay’s father steers him to the Naval Reserve, thinking it the safest option. But JT is a man of action and talks Mark Cameron into volunteering with him for River Patrol Boat duty, the most hazardous river duty in Vietnam.

The death of close friends haunts Mark during his tour and for years following as he copes with his own physical and mental wounds in a society that does not want to hear his story or recognize his sacrifices. He is ultimately saved by the friendship of a Vietnam Veteran double-amputee and the love of a special woman.

5 Points of Interest on “NAM, a novel ~ The Story of a Generation”

5 Points of Interest about the Book’s Content or Story

  1. Understand the Vietnam War backstory. Through Le Van Dat readers will develop an understanding of how a poor country like North Vietnam could persevere and ultimately win a war against the world’s largest superpower. Revealed is a historic and cultural backbone of a foe that would never give in and would fight with every available weapon to gain victory; a fact not considered or fully understood by America’s politicians.
  2. Who fought in Vietnam and why. The characters in NAM, The Story of a Generation present a conflicting and confusing rationale for why men fight in war and how different this rationale in combatants can be.
  3. How Vietnam changed war forever in America. The Vietnam Generation was the first to nationally resist, in great numbers, a war declared by the United States. It was a rejection of mindless war-making that changed the country forever, though Vietnam’s lessons are sometimes forgotten today.
  4. The shameful way Vietnam Veterans were treated upon their return is carefully examined in NAM, The Story of a Generation. Many of the problems and issues experienced by the characters in the book are retold from actual accounts. As the Vietnam Generation grew into middle-age, America’s treatment of all military combatants markedly improved as a direct result.
  5. Understand the Baby Boomers. Often called the “Me Generation”, Boomers are often tagged as the spoiled and entitled generation. Understanding this generation means getting inside their heads: how were they raised and who raised them; what were the expectations of the Greatest Generation on their children; were they cowards or patriots; who among them fought, and why?