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  #21  
Old 02 February 2007, 07:13 PM
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Simply Madeline Simply Madeline is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hardhead View Post
A columnist for the Chicago Tribune (unfortunately I can't remember which one though definately not Mike Royko) wrote several columns in the late 80's or early 90's regarding this subject. He asked that participants contact him with information regarding dates places etc. He recieved a fairly large reply from servicemen who had been spit on but not a single reply from anyone who had spit.
It was Bob Greene.
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  #22  
Old 02 February 2007, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Avril View Post
My father's military service is something of an enigma all around. That's the explanation he gave me. I think it also had to do with the circumstances surrounding him being drafted. There was a paperwork error, a man with the same name as he had and a SSN one digit off who they supposedly intended to draft instead, and I think he could have fought it given the fact that he was only 17 and still in high school, but having hated school, I think he seized the opportunity to get out. I'm still not entirely clear on what happened after that. I do know that eventually two of his brothers did end up in Vietnam, one through draft and one through enlistment. Anyway, his story has always been that, because one brother had already been drafted, he could not be sent overseas. The whole thing is murky and my father tends to fill in the details of what he can't remember, so maybe one should take it all with a grain of salt, but that is the explanation he gave me. The question is not really whether this is true now, but whether this was true at the time, and whether it applied to draftees, enlisted men, officers, or some combination. I'll leave that to those more expert than me to explain.

Avril
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Originally Posted by Simply Madeline View Post
Snopes has a page on the only son exemption, but is it true that only one brother in a family can be sent to war?
Not sure if it helps but all 3 of my Dad's brothers (all older) served in Vietnam. The only reason my Dad didn't is because he was declared 4F. He is color-blind, has/had high blood pressure and some residual effects from polio. If not for that, he would have enlisted and most likely been sent over as well. That would have left just his older sister.
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  #23  
Old 02 February 2007, 07:45 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
 
 
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Again from Lembcke

Quote:
His research examined newspapers from New York and San Francisco, as well as police reports detailing the interaction between protesters and veterans. No spitting incidents were reported, and the observers noticed that over time the veterans assumed leadership positions among the protesters. Lembcke did find newspaper reports of spitting during demonstrations in the late 1960s, but they referred to hawks spitting on anti-war protesters.

Reinforcing his myth hypothesis, Lembcke cites a Harris poll reported to Congress in 1972 that indicates 93% of returning veterans found their homecoming friendly, while only 3% found it unfriendly. The poll also reported that over 75% of returning vets were opposed to the war.
http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=215

The fact that absolutely no newspaper accounts from the time report that Vets were spat on makes it highly unlikely that it occurred in my opinion.
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  #24  
Old 02 February 2007, 08:25 PM
matches
 
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Originally Posted by RBCal View Post
The fact that absolutely no newspaper accounts from the time report that Vets were spat on makes it highly unlikely that it occurred in my opinion.
The way the story is usually told it is not of organized protest but of individual interaction, so there is no reason to presume that any newspaper would report it. Except as perhaps an opinion piece retelling the legend, so I would not say newspapers are a reliable source for this story.

At the end of the day, I would have to err on the side of the guys who say it happened to them. Certainly it is a story that has grown larger in scope due to the telling, but that does not alter the validity of the original claim.

The argument that First blood is the origin of the story is such a flawed argument one doesn't know where to begin. Clearly Rambo is retelling a commonly accepted narative at that point in the film, so the story must of originated prior to the films writing. It should be noted that the story of John Rambo is "based on a true story" so perhaps there is something in that to research.

It is entirely possible that a single incident caused this legend to come into existance, but the fact that the occurance was not wide spread does not take away from the validity of the story.

What I find most interesting about the story is that it uniformly shows the servicemen as stoic noble gentlemen who accept the abuse of their countrymen with nary a word of protest. Although I can see a privledged white college hippie who avoided the war with educational deferments lashing out at the symbol of their cowardice, I likewise find it hard to imagine him not getting his ass handed to him shortly there after.

In that sense, however this legend is most interesting in its uniformity. I have never heard (perhaps with the exception of John Rambo) of a legend of a Marine going nuts and chopping a hippie into little pieces as a result of this offence. Given the common nature of Vietnam induced PTSD UL's it surprises me if this story is mearly an urban legend that there was never cross pollenation between the two.

My father in law has claimed a wide range of discrimination applied to him because he was a vietnam vet, the feeble protests of hippies being the least consequential. I am inclind to belive all of his stories of ill treatment, but the ones by banks and employers who feared he was a "PTSD case" seem far more troubling than this old chestnut.

Last edited by matches; 02 February 2007 at 08:28 PM. Reason: typo
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  #25  
Old 02 February 2007, 08:28 PM
pinqy pinqy is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simply Madeline View Post
Snopes has a page on the only son exemption, but is it true that only one brother in a family can be sent to war?
No. In my unit in Germany we had brothers going to Desert Storm together. The exemption (not noted on the snopes page) is for sole surviving sons or daughters from combat duty if they request
Quote:
A sole surviving son or daughter is defined as the only remaining son or daughter in a family where, because of hazards incurred in the line of duty (AR 600-10) incident to service in the Armed Forces of the United States (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard), the father or mother (or one or more sons or daughters)
(1) Was killed in action or died in the line of duty as a result of wounds, accident, or disease.
(2) Is captured or in missing-in-action status.
(3) Is permanently 100 percent physically or mentally disabled as determined by the Veterans Administration or one of the military services, and is hospitalized on a continuing basis, and is not gainfully employed because of such disability.
DA Pam 600-8
Pre-deployment processing asks about sole surviving status.

pinqy
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  #26  
Old 02 February 2007, 08:33 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
 
 
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The problem with relying on a person's memory is that it is fallible. Urban legends thrive on hearsay with people stating "my father, uncle, brother, etc. had it happen to him".

Also, according to the only study that I know of (Lembcke's) what makes it highly likely it is a legend is that the stories told by people who claim it happened to them or their father are highly similiar. (Often it is hippie chicks doing the spitting). If it had happened to different people the stories would vary.
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  #27  
Old 02 February 2007, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBCal View Post
The problem with relying on a person's memory is that it is fallible.
The fact that memory is fallible does not mean that people routinely invent stories to fill their memory gaps. A person who cannot remember clearly what (s)he did this day two weeks ago will not translate that failure of memory into a faulty recollection that (s)he was raped, or mugged, or pick-pocketed. For example, if a shooting occurs in a bar, witnesses may disagree about the perpetrators' appearance, the timing of the attack, the number of shots, but in essence, they will all testify to the same fact -- that a shooting occurred. Similarly, a person who was spit upon may be mistaken about the location or the exact words uttered, but the act of spitting is not something inadvertently fabricated, nor forgotten.

A very tragic thing happened to an acquaintance of mine in May 2 years ago. (Our memories are fine, and this is not an UL.) My friend, a Russian octogenarian and a veteran of WWII, went to some small rally of other Russian WWII veterans in Brooklyn, commemorating the Victory Day. While returning from the rally, my friend and a few other veterans were confronted by a group of anti-war protesters, also quite small. Words were exchanged (mostly in different languages), and eventually, this young kid punched the 80+-year-old veteran in the face. The old man, who had lost an arm and an eye in the war, fell and broke his hip; now he can't walk, either. By the time the police got there, the kid was of course gone, but his friends claimed that the old man had fallen himself, without anyone's help -- because it's in the nature of old people to fall, don't you know, and get blackeyes that way. The victim and the other veterans gave the police a detailed description of the perpetrator, but the police took the protesters' words over theirs -- apparently for no other reason that the veterans were old men and spoke through an interpreter. The police officer even had the gall to tell the victim that his (the victim's) memory was unreliable due to his age. My friend was deeply scarred by this. He says that even worse than being insulted and beaten was to be told that you imagined it all, and have your words treated as worthless just because you are old and don't speak English.

Unfortunately, the faulty memory thing has been abused in lots of ways, from turning a blind eye to atrocities in Cambodia to denying the Holocaust. The problem with this defense is that it can be tailored to any situation. If witness' accounts differ, it's suspicious; and if their accounts are consistent, it's suspicious -- isn't that right?

As far as I am concerned, if the person seems lucid, and his account is detailed and consistent (does not change materially from one retelling to the next), then I assume it's either entirely or mostly true -- until proven otherwise.
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  #28  
Old 02 February 2007, 10:18 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
 
 
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For a site dedicated to debunking urban legends, it is strange that people "take the word" of people without any corroborating evidence.

Also, strange that virtually every instance that people have mentioned are attributed to "an acquaintance" or a FOAF (friend of a friend). This is the classic hallmark of an urban legend.
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  #29  
Old 02 February 2007, 10:42 PM
hardhead hardhead is offline
 
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If you follow the link that Madeline provides above you will see that it is not a case of "the stories are all the same" or that there is no corroborating evidence. If 200 people write to Bob Greene saying that this happened to them, not a FOAF or "an acquaintance" I'm inclined to believe that it happened. As I stated in my first post, I wonder why none of the spitters replied, ashamed maybe??
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  #30  
Old 03 February 2007, 03:08 AM
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Didn't a lot of people of Vietnam era age pretend to be Vietnam vets? I have heard reference to such a study on this board (or the old one) more than once.

If people lied about being Vietnam vets, why would we doubt that they would lie about being spit upon?

Can anybody provide me with a reference for false vets? I am trying, but my google seems to be malfunctioning tonight.

Last edited by wanderwoman; 03 February 2007 at 03:15 AM. Reason: to avoid being referred to the DRD
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  #31  
Old 03 February 2007, 03:45 AM
Magdalene Magdalene is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RBCal View Post
For a site dedicated to debunking urban legends, it is strange that people "take the word" of people without any corroborating evidence.

Also, strange that virtually every instance that people have mentioned are attributed to "an acquaintance" or a FOAF (friend of a friend). This is the classic hallmark of an urban legend.
Actually, if you re-read this thread, we've had at least one poster state outright it happened to him.

And I told my father's account--not quite FOAF, that would be more of my father telling me it happened to one of his buddies. And while my dad can be a jackass, lying isn't amongst his vices. Sorry I can't be an eyewitness to the instance, but given that I wasn't conceived until September 1969--almost a full three years later--I'm afraid I have to rely on his firsthand account as told to me.

Magdalene
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  #32  
Old 03 February 2007, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matches View Post
It should be noted that the story of John Rambo is "based on a true story" so perhaps there is something in that to research.
Huh? The movie "Rambo: First Blood" is based on the novel "First Blood" by david morrell. I've never heard anyone claim it was based on a true story. The wikipedia page for it ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rambo ) doesnt mention it being based on a true story either. Now, I'm not saying that wiki is the be-all and end-all here, but do you have a cite for this?
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  #33  
Old 03 February 2007, 01:04 PM
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I knew I'd seen a thread on the old board about phony veterans. Here it is.

Seriously, I've known a lot of verified Vietnam veterans (was married to one, in fact) and none of them reported being spit upon. I knew a lot of people during that time who were against the war, and none of them would have even considered spitting on a soldier or veteran.

To my knowledge, there is no objective documentation of people routinely being spit on (please, if anybody knows of any, post the link or cite an offline source and I will check it out and gladly print out and eat this post without mustard ).

All I have ever seen about this claim is people saying, after the fact that it happened. When we know for certain that there are people willing to lie and say they are Vietnam vets, how can we verify the spitting claims?
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  #34  
Old 03 February 2007, 04:56 PM
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Vietnam was well before my time, but I was in the USAF in the early 2000s. I did not spend any time in Iraq nor Afghanistan, but somebody once spit on me when I was in uniform as I was changing planes in an airport.
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  #35  
Old 03 February 2007, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Magdalene View Post
Actually, if you re-read this thread, we've had at least one poster state outright it happened to him.

And I told my father's account--not quite FOAF, that would be more of my father telling me it happened to one of his buddies. And while my dad can be a jackass, lying isn't amongst his vices. Sorry I can't be an eyewitness to the instance, but given that I wasn't conceived until September 1969--almost a full three years later--I'm afraid I have to rely on his firsthand account as told to me.

Magdalene
If you read "we've got mail", you will see many people who say that they personally saw the Johnny Carson show about kissing golf balls for good luck, or many other things that never happened. People's memories can be funny things; the power of suggestion can lead to false memories. Someone saying it happened to them is not proof positive without some sort of independant verification.
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  #36  
Old 03 February 2007, 09:05 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
 
 
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What makes me highly suspicious is that the same people who bring up this "urban myth" are the same people who usually support a war (which is different than supporting people in the military). Being for a war is worse than spitting on someone since you are putting people's lives in danger who are in the military.

Personally, I think the best way to support people in the military is to avoid war.
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  #37  
Old 04 February 2007, 12:01 AM
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Well, these kinds of stories are very effective at polarizing issues. The subtext is "Either you support the war wholeheartedly, or you're one of those dishonorable scumbags who spits on disabled veterans and harbors a secret desire for the enemies to win." Or, if you take the opposite stance, "Either you are against the war completely, or you're a genocidal maniac who approves of kidnapping, torturing, and butchering civilians for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

That's why these stories persist, even if the illustrated events are rare exceptions to the norm. They allow one side of the debate to say "Compared to the way our opposition acts, we're being pretty darn reasonable.", which in and of itself is an excuse for extreme opinions and behavior. That's not to say that some guy is twirling his Snidely Whiplash mustache and thinking "This lie will swing people to our side!"...but it is much easier to believe in stories that support the way you already think.
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  #38  
Old 04 February 2007, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderwoman View Post
Can anybody provide me with a reference for false vets? I am trying, but my google seems to be malfunctioning tonight.
"Stolen Valor" by B.G. Burkett. He exposes several phony Vietnam Veterans, including phony Medal of Honor wearers and phony former POWs. He's also busted a couple of people trying to use phony PTSD claims as a defense in court (they never served in combat). He files FOIA requests for military records to check on suspected phonies.
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  #39  
Old 04 February 2007, 01:39 AM
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You know what always puzzled me? How do people spit far enough to hit someone unless they are right up next him? If you're standing toe-to-toe, it's pretty easy. But normally we aren't that close to perfect strangers as we walk through airports and the like. Can the average person spit that far? Am I that below average in my spitting ability?

I had a lot of good friends who served in Vietnam. They had stories of people saying things to them, giving them dirty looks, keeping their distance, but I don't recall spitting stories, though I may have just forgotten. There was, unfortunately, figurative if not literal spitting on troops in that era. And, just like I know some women who burned their bras (I didn't join them, do you know how much a bra costs??? And I think they had a lot of trouble getting them to burn.), I'm sure there were some idiots who spit on military personnel. But was it common, people spitting at men in the military everytime they walked down the street? No.
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  #40  
Old 04 February 2007, 10:00 AM
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Ramblin' Dave Ramblin' Dave is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stoneage Dinosaur View Post
Of course you can't show that something never happened, but as with the snopes bra-burning article, you can show where the original myth originated.
Another thing it has in common with the bra-burning issue is that it's often used as a bludgeon against any and all people who support the cause in question. Just as the issue of bra-burning has pushed a lot of women into denying that they're feminists when they really are in any reasonable definition of the term (and yes, I think that's a good thing), the issue of spitting on returning soldiers has fed into the whole "oppose war = hate America" mentality. Specific to the '60s, it's made it much easier to give that decade a bad name. Which sucks, when you consider the enormous strides that were made toward racial and gender equality, governmental accountability, and generally dragging the country into the 20th century once and for all. For all the good things that happened then, far too many people today will tell you that spitting on soldiers was emblematic of the era.

I don't doubt that some spitting incidents did happen. The point is that it was almost certainly not as widespread as it is now made out to be in some circles. And, as others have pointed out, peace activists weren't always treated very well back then either.

FWIW, my dad was in the Army from 1971-75 (he never went to Vietnam, but I doubt most civilians could tell by looking when he was in uniform) and he was never mistreated in any way.
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