Skip to comments.'60s Singer Still Calling for 'Nam Apology
Posted on 04/01/2005 8:22:26 PM PST by InvisibleChurch
It's been 30 years since the last bombs fell during the Vietnam War, and longtime peace activist Peter Yarrow says it's about time that America apologizes.
The singer-songwriter from the 1960s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary has grown gray, but his passion to fight for those affected by the war remains fervent.
During his first trip to Vietnam this week, he told The Associated Press that the war wounds of the United States won't heal until the nation makes amends a process he believes should involve helping Vietnamese suffering from the ill health effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant sprayed by U.S. planes during the war.
"All I know is that there's something that's really hurting the process of engagement, normalization and mutual respect in this equation," he said of U.S.-Vietnam relations. "And a real flash point is the issue of Agent Orange."
Yarrow, 66, performed a benefit concert before a packed crowd in Hanoi's Opera House to raise money for the cause and visited a village where U.S. veterans volunteer their time to help children suffering from diseases and birth defects believed to be caused by exposure to the chemical.
Yarrow, famous for the song "Puff, The Magic Dragon" and his rendition of Bob Dylan's classic "Blowin' In The Wind", decided to devote himself to the cause after years of activism ranging from marching with slain U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., to organizing concerts in Madison Square Garden to protest the unpopular war.
"Now, I'm here with that history and came to Vietnam ready to get down on my knees as one American and say, 'Please forgive us. We who are a good country and a great country in many ways also have made some terrible mistakes,'" he said.
Yarrow is among the first well-known anti-war activists to come to Vietnam since the war ended on April 30, 1975, when communist forces took over Saigon, the U.S.-backed capital of South Vietnam.
Actress Jane Fonda visited North Vietnam in 1972 where she met American prisoners of war and was photographed at a communist anti-aircraft gun site, earning her the nickname "Hanoi Jane."
In an interview prior to the release of her memoir next week, Fonda has that "... sitting on an enemy aircraft gun was a betrayal ... the largest lapse of judgment that I can even imagine."
Since the war, relations with the United States have warmed. Diplomatic ties were normalized in 1995 and a landmark trade agreement was signed in 2001, prompting an explosion of business. But the issue of Agent Orange remains a sticking point.
A U.S. federal court last month dismissed the first-ever lawsuit filed by Vietnamese against the American chemical manufactures, claiming they suffered severe health problems after exposure to Agent Orange.
U.S. aircraft dumped 21 million gallons of defoliant on Vietnam from 1962-71. Most of that was Agent Orange, which contains the toxic dioxin, blamed for causing diseases such as cancer, diabetes, spina bifida and a range of other health problems. However, the U.S. government maintains there is not enough evidence to link dioxin to those ailments.
But Yarrow said the science shouldn't matter. Instead, he said the United States should simply do the right thing 30 years after the war by treating the Vietnamese who say they suffer from exposure.
"It's not to me an issue about whether it's 30 percent or 80 percent of them being victims of Agent Orange ... You've got to say 'We, as a country, are sorry' or at least the individuals have to say it," he said.
While in Vietnam, Yarrow also traveled to Ho Chi Minh City where he attended a conference of international schools to promote Operation Respect, a nonprofit he founded to foster nonviolence in schools.
Sowwy.....feel better now?
I agree, it's past time for an apology, but I don't think the communists will apologize.
Has he talked to the Vietnamese who fled Vietnam and now live in the U.S. and many other countries? Why wait for governments when one-on-one apologies are sooo much better.
Hey, Pete how 'bout you apologize for making that sh*tty song?
This twit is the one who apologize - apologize to the Vietnamese people who now suffer in communism.
I am sorry he is such an idiot and Communist sympathizer.
I wonder if he will apologize to the thousands killed by the Communists after we left Vietnam, by Pol Pot, et al?
Not sorry. PROUD.
Should have killed more enemy, if Johnson had allowed it. He was too busy building urban welfare ghettos back home.
Funny, I must be getting old. Don't remember seeing old Pete during my enlistment.
Forty years later and he's still a moron.
I got your apology right here.
"...longtime peace activist Peter Yarrow says it's about time that America apologizes."
Oh. I guess they must'a forgot that CONVICTED PEDOPHILE is also a part of peaceful Peter's profile. Never mind.
Time the hippies apologize for 40 years of betrayal against their country. Time they apologize to the people of Vietnam for allowing the Communists to win that led to massacres. Time they apologize to Americans for prolonging a war that could have been won with less bloodshed had they supported their own country. Time they apologize for trying to bring the same defeat in every conflict since.
I will disagree on what it will take to heal the wounds of Vietnam. The only way those wounds are healed is when the hippie generation leaves this Earth.