Parker LiaBraaten- Saigon Evac Post 4

My research indicates that the man reaching out in this photograph is, most likely, Oren Harnage– a Senior Air Operations Officer for the CIA. PEOPLE’s magazine had an article published on April 8, 1985 about Oren Harnage, who played a large role in the evacuation of Saigon which took place April 29, 1975. Harnage’s story helped me to better understand the panic and fear captured in this photograph.

According to this article, the US had withdrawn combat forces in 1973 and aid to the Saigon government had been cut. This is why the US government was so hesitant to send money and troops on Ford’s request because they felt like they had just cut ties two years ago and they did not want to get back involved since the war was basically over. This photograph represents the very end and very final defeat in Vietnam.

The CIA had already started preparing for the evacuation, but plans were sped up due to a North Vietnamese attack on the US base at Tan Son Nhut, April 29th. Harnage actually witnessed the attack from a distance which was the same attack Ken Crouse lost friends to. The CIA used 13 Huey choppers, all which carried over double their passenger recommendations. The helicopters took passengers 15 minutes to Tan Son Nhut where larger helicopters made longer flights to the ships. These “secret” evacuation plans were known by the South Vietnamese who desperately tried to get a spot on a Huey. Harnage had to use a sub-machine gun to try and keep order as a mob of people pushed each other and even shoved babies into his arms. Harnage later realized he probably threw a million dollars worth of gold off the roof because he would not allow anyone to bring more than one small bag.

These Vietnamese feared the Communists very much and I feel that this same fear was once present in America, but prolonging the conflict for a decade caused Americans to become detached from Indochina and this war. In addition, Americans were given reasons to not believe everything the government told them which turned their fear into indifference and gave them a desire to leave Vietnam to the past.

The difference of this fear is that the South Vietnamese had an immediate threat as North Vietnamese troops outside the city could be seen from the helicopters which were within firing range. This oncoming danger gave the South Vietnamese a right to be scared and caused them to fight for a way out of Saigon. One soldier threatened Harnage for a spot on the Huey by pulling a pin from a grenade, but after replying by pointing a sub-machine gun at him, the pin was returned. Harnage even had to physically hit a different man to stop him from pushing his way into the helicopter.

Due to this panic and chaos, Harnage stated that there was no way he could know if the people he was loading onto his helicopter worked for the US or if they were bar girls. Even more chaos was taking place as embassy employees smashed equipment, and the embassy swimming pool was being used as a source of water since other water supplies were cut off.

Like mentioned above, I feel that American citizens were so far removed (physically) from the war, that they had a hard time relating to it, especially since America had been involved for many years without progress. This caused a decline of sympathy and fear of communism resulting in strong feelings against the war. Harnage mostly stayed quiet about his experience in the war and evacuation but once said, “I just feel that nobody in the world has the right to oppress another person’s freedom, and for everybody to have this freedom, somebody’s got to sacrifice for it. If you’ve never been there—if you’ve never seen it—you don’t understand it.”,,20090383,00.html


Self-Immolation Post 3 – Davin Gooch

As noted in my last post, I’ve been looking into the history of Self-Immolation this week. The findings were quite shocking to say the least. It has a long and rich history stemming from religious texts and practices. Some self-immolations, or “auto-cremations” as a more accurate term, are more personal while some are done to garner international attention or to help and unify a cause. The number of “self-immolaters” in the past thousand years are incalculable. The earliest known examples are from around 100 B.C. in early China by Buddhist monks who believed it to be the ultimate religious sacrifice. This would be a more personal form of sacrifice under the belief that fire is cleansing and as such is pleasing to Buddha. In India up until 1829 when it was outlawed, it was common practice for widows to throw themselves on the funeral pyre of their late husbands. They may of course have been coerced into such a thing by the societal expectations of the time or it may have been an honest act of despair. In Roman mythology it is said that Heracles and Dido set themselves aflame together. Heracles as an act of shamed pride and Didos as an act of pure despair. Since then, it has been used as both a religious sacrifice and as a protest. During the Schism of the church in Europe, many “old believers” were said to have self-immolated out of protest in large groups by piling into the churches, locking the door, and setting them ablaze. This was, similar to the Buddhist cleansing, a “second baptism” by fire. One auto-cremation in particular was incredibly shocking for me to discover. During the United States’ occupation of Vietnam, a Quaker by the name of Norman Morrison set himself afire outside of the Pentagon in protest to the war while clutching his young son. It was surprising to me that this news hasn’t echoed into our generation’s common knowledge. In Vietnam, it became a common practice during the war. In one week, as many as thirteen monks were known to have committed self-immolation in protest.

This isn’t located to only these regions. There have been self-immolations in Czechoslovakia, Korea, France, Kurdistan, Iran, Russia, and even Switzerland. In 1990, as many as 200 university students in India committed self-immolation in protest. Even a 13 year old in Pakistan committed self-immolation out of embarrassment that he couldn’t afford a new school uniform. This act is apparently quite universal and ranges from religion to despair and embarrassment. It isn’t solely located to one culture or one time period which to me is astounding. Knowing the history of this has greatly helped me understand the basis for which I want to explore the relevancy today. That is, because it was never irrelevant.,8599,2043123,00.html

Kelly Teel, Kent State, Post 4

Since I am focusing on the background of the KentState shootings, I felt it was important to explore the beginnings of the antiwar movements. Two books I found on the topic are Covering Dissent by Melvin Small and an anthology of articles addressing the anti-Vietnam war movement, edited by Walter Hixson.

 In one of the articles of the anthology, “Roots of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement”, Benjamin T. Harrison argues that the antiwar sentiment started after the two world wars and the Great Depression. Harrison believes that the atrocities witnessed from the wars, combined with the fact that the children of the survivors of the Great Depression were born into the most affluent time in American history created the situation that spawned antiwar demonstrations in the 1960’s. This new generation did not want for anything, as their parents had. They lived in a world where there were more college students than farmers (Harrison 29). These young students felt as if their parents had screwed up the world, through the appeasement of Hitler, which led to World War II and the Holocaust and through the bombing of Hiroshima as well. Protests against the bomb would become the forerunners of the anti-Vietnam war movements. The demonstrators of the 1960s responded directly to the war in Vietnam, but their ideals were created in response to the horrors that their parent’s generation had inflicted upon the world.

 Small argues that the antiwar protests for Vietnam began in earnest in response to Johnson’s decision to bomb North Vietnam. He states that “no other American action in Southeast Asia so catalyzed critics of the war” (Small 34). The first major demonstration took place on April 17, 1965, only a few months after Johnson’s decision. It was organized by the Students for a Democratic Society, and gathered such widespread attention mainly due to the controversy surrounding the bombings. Since the United States was not actually at war with North Vietnam, the idea of bombing them was problematic for a lot of Americans. The students (much like the ones at Kent State) led the movement to end the war in Vietnam based upon ideals crafted in response to the violent and destructive culture that their parents had lived in.

Small, Melvin. Covering dissent: the media and the anti-Vietnam War movement. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

Harrison, Benjamin T. “The Roots of the Anti-Vietnam War Movement”. In The Vietnam Antiwar Movement edited by Walter Hixson, 23-35. New York: Garland Publishing, 2000.

Deon P- Reactions to JFK assassination

This week I took the advise of Professor Renoff and tried to focus more on analyzing the information as a whole and seeing its connection towards the historical issues instead of summarizing it. i also wanted to make sure I found connections to my research project and what it has to do with my section of the project. I found two sources which are Youtube videos that give me good examples on how the U.S. citizens responded to the death of president Kennedy.

The good thing about these videos is that they do not just talk about the reactions of the U.S. citizens but it actually shows interviews that these people were given so you can see their actual reactions and response in person and at the moment. This helps me a lot with my portion of the project because I am required to find out what the U.S. citizens feelings and responses towards JFK’s death and LBJ’s new position as president were. Majority of every single person had the same feeling towards the tragedy which can be described in one word “shocked”. Every person seemed to be devastated and in disbelief of what had happened to their president, some citizens also had the feelings of hatred and wanted the government to do things to make sure that it did not happen again.

I am not surprised at all with these reactions because I feel that there is no way a person could go through this kind of tragedy and not have any feelings of hate, devastation, or shock towards the situation. I believe that at the time the citizens did not know which way their country was going to go and felt helpless. These responses that are to be expected when you lose the leader of your country.

I think that these videos helped me a lot in grasping the feelings that U.S. citizens had at the moment of Kennedy’s death and the reactions they had towards the devastating situation.

Alec Presley, Kent State Post 4

In my research, I have stumbled (most appropriate word I can use there) upon an opportunity to contact John Filo, the photographer who took my photo. I plan to email him after posting this. For this week, I am using a pair of print sources.

The first source is an article from Rolling Stone from June 1971. The article is about how certain parts of the media altered details of the events, and how many people viewed the protestors has the villains. The article goes over the facts of the tragedy as determined by the FBI, and how these facts were ignored – often purposefully.  There are also descriptions on the failings of the powers at be to prevent the murders. I got the article from a compilation book of articles, so I’m not sure what it looked like in its original format, but in the book they use the picture. They also mention Filo in the piece. They discuss how by this point in time he had won his Pulitzer Prize, and that people were congratulating him. There was also a funny line about how he had gotten an offer from a sweat-shirt company.

The other source is an article from Life magazine about Dean Kahler, a handicapped victim of the shooting. This source doesn’t use my photo or even mention it or Filo. However, it is further proof that the photo wasn’t as widely used prior to the Pulitzer. Combined with my source above, there is a clear pattern of my photo not being used – even when other photos taken by Filo are – before he won the award, and then the image becoming the go to image to use when talking about the Kent State.

Obviously pictures that not that many people have seen tend to not win many Pulitzer’s, so my photo should have been used somewhere. I’m going to keep looking for instances where it was used, and it’s going to be one of the things I ask Filo about if I am so lucky that he should answer me back.

Also, I didn’t know how to cite print sources. When I figure out how I will do so in the comments section.

Megan Ortmeyer – “LBJ taking the oath of office” Post 3

This week, in continuing my research, I sought out information on Judge Sarah T. Hughes.  Judge Hughes administered the oath of office to Lyndon B. Johnson, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Dr. Renoff’s lecture).  I found some information on her background on the State Bar of Texas website, but the most important research I came across this week was an interview of Judge Sarah T. Hughes.

The interview has almost everything I am looking for about her.  Judge Hughes discusses how she became a district judge for Dallas.  She also describes where she was at and what she was doing when the heard that President Kennedy was being taken to the hospital.  Furthermore, she speaks about how she was told that she would be swearing Lyndon B Johnson into office and why she was specifically called and not one of the other two district judges.  Most importantly, in the article she talks about what she was thinking when she was on her way to the airport to administer the oath.  She gives crucial details about her short moments on the plane delivering the oath.  She even mentions that the type of Bible used for the oath was a Catholic Bible.

This is the most exciting research I have uncovered so far because it is actually her word for word account of how she ended up on the plane.  Although many would focus primarily on how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy took place and then how LBJ ended up on the plane as the background for the LBJ taking the oath photo, it is also vitally important to understand how the other people present ended up there.  It is important to understand some of Judge Sarah Hughes background in order to understand how she ended up as a judge and, thus, on Air Force One that November day in 1963.  Everyone on that plane, when LBJ took the oath of office, has a story of how he/she ended up there that ties into the bigger picture of the background of the photo.  Her thoughts surrounding the event are crucial because by knowing someone’s thoughts that was present, one is able to look at the photo in a new light, and better understand how one should feel when looking at this photo.  Also, by reading her account of how she ended up there, it helps pull one into the photo.

This interview piece will definitely add a crucial element to my paper.  For next week, the books I ordered should be in which will help me to further my research.  I would also like to dive into research on Mrs. Kennedy, and what she must have been thinking while Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath of office.