The Viet Nam war was probably the first to be televised. Video was shown every single day by all 3 major net
works, including casualties, killed & wounded.
The war was in everybody’s living room. I’d returned from 7th grade junior high school & sit to watch ol’ Walter Cronkite report this.
It became a routine & common news until I didnt care. Big deal.
Some Edinburg soldiers had died in combat by then.
When our parents returned with Johnny from visits with the relatives & eating out, Ma asked,“Are you going to Viet Nam, mi hijo?”
“No Im not,” Johnny replied.
Even at 14 I was opposed to the war & was becoming more socially active.
At school we had discussions, & more than likely, I’d be on the opposing side.
Ma asked again.”Please tell me you’re not going Mi hijo.” Johnny, ever mindful & not wanting to hurt our Mom’s feelings, again said he wasn’t.
Little bullish Mario, being against the war, angry, & outspoken, debated on whether to bring out what he had found out(the viet nam phrase book) or not.
I came to a crossing point. What do I do? I believe our Mother could see something in my sad face.
She asked me, “What’s the matter, Mario?”
I could not deceive our Mother & told her the truth.
“Mom, Johnny is going to Viet Nam.”
I remember Mom letting out a panicked “Oh No!”
“Tell me it isn’t true, mi hijo,” Ma said to Johnny
I stirred up quite a commotion & emotional storm.
I was immediately put on the hot seat by pa. Threatened for knowing too much.
Brother Johnny didn’t want to hurt our parents.
I kept quiet waiting for him to bring it out & tell them.We looked at each other.
I gave him my ‘it’s on you’ stare.
Then, the questioning began.
“How do you know?” I kept silent.”Come on Johnny, tell them” I said.
Johnny didn’t say anything.
Both parents about to chew my tail, & provide some corporeal punishment.
Holy sh*t what did I do wrong, I wondered.
Emotions ran high.
Johnny kept quiet.
“Mario, you’re gonna be spanked,”Ma said.“Why are you making stuff up?”
Well, push came to shove. A clash of wills.
Both parents pissed this little Taurus boy off for knowing what he shouldn’t have known.
“How the heck do you know”(but in Spanish colloquial language).
I stuck my hand into the Army green duffle bag again & pulled the Vietnamese phrase booklet out.
Here’s the proof.
Johnny gave me a ” I’m gonna have your hide’ look.
Don’t remember if I got the spanking, probably did. Everybody had tears in their eyes.