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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Catching Up Day!

Vietnam_memorial The rain is perfect for it.

Bills to pay. Grocery shopping. You know the drill.

But I did want to share with you my little visit Saturday to the Vermont Vietnam Veterans Memorial along the interstate in Sharon. I was coming back from the Impeachment Town Meeting Congressman Peter Welch held in the Hartland High School Gym. Driving northbound along Interstate 89, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.

The Sharon Interstate Memorial has been ugraded considerably over the years and if you haven't stopped by you've been missing something.

That's Arthur M. Hammond Jr. of Bethel, a transportation worker, sweeping up on the right, and some local college students who stopped off on the left. Arthur also served in Vietnam with the Air Force, doing oxygen work on the big jets (1968-72).

I confess. I haven't stopped there in almost 25 years. That's when I covered the memorial's official opening for the late, great Vanguard Press. The Vietnam War is a tender subject. A friend lost, several wounded and a government that lied. Ours.

My last stop was October 30, 1982. No cell phones. No email. No laptops. The White House of that day, having learned nothing from Vietnam, was backing right-wing guerrillas and military juntas in Latin America. And Bernie Sanders was in his first term as mayor of Burlington.

The Vietnam War was my generation's war. I did not fight in it. I fought against it, as did many veterans, too, just like we're seeing today.

On the personal level, there was a draft. I went through the Selective Service System hearing process - summer of '69 - to obtain a "1-0," i.e. conscientious objector status (CO). Got it on a 3-1 vote of my distinguished local draft board. Still see the long Salem filter cigarette dangling out of the red lips of the smirking platinum blond who was the clerk of the board. She looked at me like I was a piece of total ____ and should be taken outside and executed!

A few days later, I was a little surprised to open the mail and see I had been given conscientious objector classification (no Roman Catholic had ever been granted one by my draft board before me). And I was a little disappointed, too, since it 'ended the battle,' so to speak, but my mother was tremendously relieved.

Moms, eh?

Sharon_info_centerAlso, there are several really cool buildings at the northbound Sharon Rest Area, an info center and a geothermal planetarium that will fascinate children of all ages. Great bathrooms, too.

According to Roy Black, the friendly "transportation ambassador" inside (pictured at right), the names of 128 Vermonters who were killed in Vietnam are on the granite marker outside.

Also on hand are big journals with the names of the 7230 Vermonters who served in the Vietnam War.

Look, nobody's saying we have to out-do Vietnam in Iraq and Iran, are they?

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Comments

linguini

remembering vietnam, not a fond memory!! i had a brother who fought there and has agent orange disease today-the lingering war, never went away!! Iraq is same type of war..long, no winning in sight. two big draft dodgers (cheney and bush) running the show! one wouldve thought this country wouldve learned from vietnam...the result will be the same in iraq..the people will settle it in their own way in time...without the outside interference of the big brother influence of the USA. how sad so much life lost already when will it stop?? soon i hope..vietnam lasted too long..and iraq is headed in same direction. how did we ever get into another no win war?? Bush had a personal vendetta to settle with saddam so we pay with countless young men and women lives.not right!!

VeteranOne

I attended a meeting where the story behind the Sharon Rest Area Project was explained.

The Sharon Rest Area cost about $3 million and includes many Vermont materials, e. g., stone, wood. It has state of the art water recycling and energy systems. It uses plants to help filter the sewage water and the water is then recycled and reused in the septic system.

It was built to contrast the relatively new rest areas on I-89 in Williston, which are energy and water hogs and have absolutely no Vermont materials in them.

Sen. Illuzi, the chairman of Senate Insitutitons, was going to stop the Williston projects when he saw their final design, but made a deal with Buildings Commissioner Tom Torti to allow the Williston projects to move forward in exchange for the construction of a state of the art rest area in Sharon.

The feds paid 90% of the cost of these facilities.

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