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.
Bada boom, bada bing: Clinton and Kerry (and Carter) were all.... Manchurian Candidates.
I guess we live in one heck of a Puzzle Palace.
Hmmm, I thought there was something about a gas station mens room and a little boy. Maybe that was Billy Preston.
I thought Puff the Magic Dragon was great, but the AC 119's and the AC 130's had more firepower.
If it was girls, I'm encouraged and relieved.
Sounds like Ole' Peter still likes to puff the magic dragon.
Peter, let me tell you I am sorry we raped, pillaged and did things reminiscent of Genghis Kahn...even though my President said these things didn't go on, I can tell you when I heard Nixon in 1968 he was lying....
Understand I'm not doubting what yer sayin'...it's jest that I gotta go with what I have. There are all kinds of possiblilities when you live on the frontier of space and time and I s'pose ol' Pete has done his share of going where no other man has gone before.
I have plenty of leftist singers on my ipod but this one and his group has never made the cut.
Is this the turd that appoligzed to Japan for not being better prepared at Pearl Harbor? Has a familiar smell, doesn't he?
I always get 'em mixed up - was it Yarrow or the other guy in this group who was caught in a motel with a fourteen year old boy, a al MJ?..........
Billy Preston? I thought his rap was drug using/selling and insurance fraud. You might be thinking of George Michael.
I love that one. Classic.
Where's his opus?
He smoked it.
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