Vietnam Interview



With one last glance at the ball game on the suspended flat screen TV, John Feltsky walks away from his bar stool, beverage in hand. He settles in the vinyl red booth, sets the drink down on the table, and folds his hands. He is comfortable in this atmosphere, and clearly is ready for a discussion. Feltsky jokes: "Vietnam, we could talk all down. Religion? We would be here forever." We are strangers, but after a brief introduction from my mom’s boyfriend; we have become acquainted.
Feltsky considers himself lucky; he was drafted in 1969, but because of health problems he escaped war in Vietnam. College also helped; he was deferred to enter the draft until after he completed his education. His blood pressure was simultaneously a bad and useful component: “I had gone to the doctor…in 1969, and I had had my physical which was necessary for the draft. My doctor said that I had high blood pressure…” His health, while not life threatening, prevented him from enlisting in the war. Feltsky explained the draft: men were picked using their birthdays and a series of numbers. His number, low on the draft list , was picked early on in the war. If not for his high blood pressure, Feltsky would have fighting as a soldier in Vietnam. He picks up his drink, takes a sip, and looks me dead in the eyes: "In my neighborhood, there was no going to Canada."
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As a college student during the 1960s, John Feltsky knew that life had more to offer besides war. Not only did he have his entire life ahead of him, but he the average 20 year old living vivaciously and experiencing important American culture. As Feltsky puts it, it was the "formative decade of his lifetime." Not only was the Vietnam War being fought over seas, but a lot was going on inside the nation as well: the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Rights Movement. Feltsky's life was not directly affected by the war, but the time period made him think more, as he is more open to ideas today.
Feltsky saw the Vietnam War from the home field perspective, and when asked if he was pro or anti war, immediately he sputters out: "totally against." He provides me with a history lesson; it was an illegal war whose roots were based on stupidity, our nation's failure to understand. The Vietnam War has roots that started in World War II -France owned Vietnam after WWII and the US supported France- and the Vietnam War was an "ill advised step to stop communism." During the 1960s, the US also went through the Second Red Scare , an anti-communism movement. The countries goal in going to war with Vietnam was to prevent the Domino Effect: if one country falls to communism, they all fall.
The 1960's in America were an increasing active period; the Vietnam War was being lost overseas, Civil Rights movements were opening the American mind, and a communism scare pervaded the country. Feltsky's strongest memories are the anti-war protests. In 1968, Feltsky was in a bar watching Lyndon B. Johnson on TV, say that he would no longer be running for office because of the strong protests and the bad war. Though in Feltsky's opinion, Johnson would have been reelected, the uprising of the nation against the war was to much to handle; he had to succeed from the campaign due to the turmoil. Another recollection of protesting gone wrong is the Kent University protests on May 4 1970. He briefly recalls that students were shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard, after dramatic protests. Feltsky's memories of the war show that the country was going through chaos; clearly most were against the war and showed with protests. This mistrust and deception, stemming from the government, comes from the "generation gap." Feltsky provides a background: "during the 1950's, we had trust with Eisenhower, the 60's generation gap was comprised of young skeptics". He even mentions the "hawks and doves," this labeling people based upon their military views also helped to divide the country(obviously a hawk is for the war, and doves are for peace). From Vietnam to where we are today, Feltsky even goes as far as to say: "...we were completely polarized. And we have not completely come back together..."



Despite a large portion of the country being anti-war, people were for the war, especially at the beginning of the war. Feltsky called it the "right to confront communism," as a reason why the American people wanted to go to war. Yet, he says, the feeling faded. The President, Johnson, quit; the Vietnam War had destroyed his career. As the years progressed, more called for an end to the war. "The Great Silent Majority:" the portion of the American population who wanted to remain in Vietnam, yet remained quiet due to fear of protesters. Feltsky remembers that more and more people were against the war, especially by 68 and 69, and Nixon ended the war in 73.
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In talking about Vietnam, Feltsky brings up a comparable point: Iraq. He feels that these wars are "so alike, almost similar, because the government was lying to the American people." He fills me in on some Vietnam history: " in 1964 the Gulf of Tonkin in North Korea a US ship had been attacked; Congress told Johnson to do whatever...this was all a lie." The government deceived the people; they fabricated a story so that they would gain the sympathy of the citizens. Feltsky compares this to Iraq*; Saddam and his weapons of mass destruction, how he tried to purchase uranium, this later was found to be false. Both instances were the government lying to the public to manipulate them. Though there was a difference: "there was more justification for Vietnam; Iraq was based on Bush and Cheney gaining a foothold in the Middle East for oil and money."

Though the country lost Vietnam, Feltsky says "most people didn't know we won most battles". Technically, we won the battles but lost the war. He comments that it was their homeland; they had the advantage over us. Looking back on the war, he summarizes that " we did not know what we were getting into". Feltsky never took part in the fighting, but he experienced the "war on the homefront", the violent protesting that changed the nation. Vietnam killed two of his friends, and another who was a medic was so badly affected still will not speak about the war. Now, after seeing how government manipulates people, Feltsky always questions authority. He is a skeptical person, but that is not a bad thing, he just wants the truth.

*There is a great podcast that addresses if Iraq is like Vietnam. To hear it, open Itunes, and click on Itunes Store. On the right side, click on Power Search. Specify "Podcasts," and type in "Vietnam" under Title, then click Search. The third result should be "A380 The Vietnam War," and when clicked on, there are seven different podcasts. The sixth is entitled "Is Iraq Like Vietnam?" Click on, and listen to that one.


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Book 1:1984, A Reality




What the students understand when they finish your lesson with you:
a) In a way, Orwell is accurate when predicting that the government will know our every move.
b) We might not know it, but we do not have as much privacy as we think.

Main Standard you are achieving (the number and full description): 3.5.12.A.1 Understand that messages are representations of social reality and vary by historic time periods and parts of the world.

Materials Needed and Technology Used:
a) Laptops
b) Handout of Article(or link)

Opening Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): We will read the article; it describes how the present is much like 1984 how people have no privacy.

Middle/Main Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): The students will think how their privacy is limited, i.e. laptops, parents, etc. Individually, they will make an iMovie, with pictures from the Internet and a voiceover describing each image. I will be available for assistance.

Closing Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): The students will present to me their movies.


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Book 2: Hate Then and Now



What the students understand when they finish your lesson with you:
a) Though 1984’s “Hate Week” is not likely to happen, people do possess strong feelings of hate.
b) The group will connect 1984 with society today.
c) Using Pages, they will make a poster for a current “hate week” issue (they decide).

Main Standard you are achieving: 3C1: Use print and electronic media texts to explore human relationships, new ideas, and aspects of culture (e.g., racial prejudice, dating, marriage, family, and social institutions).

Materials Needed and Technology Used:
a) laptops
b) Pages program
c) 1984 books (page 148-149)

Opening Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): Together, we will read about the International Day of Anger on a blog, and then discuss how it relates to 1984. Then we will skim passages in 1984 to see how Winston and party members prepare for “Hate Week.”

Middle/Main Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): They will each make a poster for “Hate Week 2009”; they pick the issue based off of current events in society. I can help, and they use Pages for the poster.



Closing Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): The students will show me their poster, and explain and relate it to 1984.



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Book 3: A New Ending

What the students understand when they finish your lesson with you:
a) George Orwell’s vision is comparable to society today, but 1984 could never be a reality. They will understand by viewing it from a different perspective.
b) My group will have a better understanding of iMovie.

Main Standard you are achieving: Media Literacy 3.C.3. Recognize that creators of media and performances use a number of forms, techniques, and technologies to convey their messages.

Materials Needed and Technology Used:
a) laptops
b) 1984 books
c) iMovie
d) directions handout on googledocs

Opening Activity Description (What the students and you are doing):
Together, we will look at an article from Questia, “Bye Bye Big Brother,” and discuss it. (Questia usernames are phhs + school id and password is the reverse)

Middle/Main Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): Using what they learn from the article, together, the group will create an “alternative ending” to 1984. By using iMovie and pictures from the Internet, they will make a slideshow of their ending, complete with subtitles (a voice over or words). The directions are on my googledocs, and I shared the document with my group.

Closing Activity Description (What the students and you are doing): The students will show and explain their iMovie. We will discuss their alternative ending, and which ending they preferred.


Use pictures like this to create your movie.
Use pictures like this to create your movie.