The Vietnam War brought about a change in culture that the soldiers who were serving did not quite understand until they returned home. As I have stated in previous posts, I will be focusing my research of the song “Goodnight Saigon” on the way soldiers were treated when they returned home.
The book “Home-coming” by Bob Greene combines soldiers recollections of their experiences upon returning into the United States. Greene was curious if the rumors of soldiers being spat on was true so he asked soldiers who were spat on to describe their story. Scott Brooks-Miller from Spokane, Washington describes his story of returning in LAX in July of 1970, “When walking down the corridor, I encountered a young man, no older than myself I’m sure, who looked me in the eye and without hesitation spit on my ribbons. I didn’t know what to do. I still don’t. For all these years I’ve remembered that experience… As far as I’m concerned, let the politicians fight the next war. They aren’t getting my sons.” (Greene, 18) The soldiers were not aware of the culture change that had happened in the American society since the beginning of the war, and were mostly shocked when they were greeted much like Brooks-Miller. Moments like these inspired Billy Joel to write “Goodnight Saigon”. Greene adds his opinion by writing, “To me, though, the value of the letters lay not only in the jarring truths they told- the value lay in the raging, weeping, prideful, and ultimately triumphant humanity that comes through in the stories.” (Greene, 13)
Greene, Bob. Homecoming: when the soldiers returned from Vietnam. New York: Putnam, 1989.