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On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords: For High School Students–Notes and Images from the Viet Nam War

 

01/27/23 / Gary Ghirardi / NNOMY -Today, January 27th, 2023, marks the fiftieth year of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords that ostensibly ended the hostilities to end the Vietnam War between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam), the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam); the United States; and the Republic of South Vietnam (PRG), which represented South Vietnamese communists. The accords would have established a clear separation of a non-communist south and a communist north but the “peace treaty” did not hold with neither side recognizing the legitimacy of the other. The war culminated with a disillusioned American public pressuring the U.S. Government for a withdrawal of U.S.Troops. The South Vietnamese Government fell under North Vietnamese opposition in 1975.

Fifty years later the U.S. finds itself in a protracted proxy war supporting Ukraine seeking separation and autonomy from Russia with no end in sight and likely in a similar stalemate like the Vietnam War.

What has changed for the U.S. military is it draws its troops from a diminishing pool of qualified applicants as a “volunteer” military and must struggle to fill the ranks of its armies or must seek out private paramilitary fighting forces without a draft to conjure its soldiers. This “New Vietnam War” for the U.S. relies on the coalition of surrounding NATO countries to pressure an ongoing proxy war that in recent weeks looks much more like a direct confrontation with Russia as it trains Ukrainian forces on U.S. bases and increasingly ups the ante by supplying more advanced weapons through U.S. arms manufacturers and coalition partners to Ukraine.

Like the reality of who served during the Vietnam war, many of the soldiers in combat come from our most marginalized communities economically and now with recruitment quotas falling below targeted levels the military recruiters are having to implement popular cultural tactics to sell the idea of military service rather than depend on the forced conscription of a draft. What is largely missing in all their appeals to now Alpha Generation youth at recruitment age in American high schools is the true picture of what war on the ground is, in all its violent contradictions, that have little resemblance to the recruitment propaganda that they are subject to by military recruiters in their schools.

For this fiftieth anniversary of the Paris Peace accords, NNOMY shares the video and the review by Bill Nichols of the documentary of New York film filmmaker Jill Godmilow; For High School Students–Notes and Images from the Viet Nam War as a warning to our children, and the rest of us as well, of the brutality of war that we seemed to have either forgotten or normalized in our national memory. Powerful resources that demonstrate the realities of wars are more important than ever to attempt to impact the next generation of youth that are saturated with the virtual violence of first person shooter video games, some organized by the military with private software companies, and a plethora of violent entertainments that both indoctrinate and desensitize them to real war and what it actually looks like outside the virtual world of video game team play.

The Film critic Bill Nichols, in the review presented below, presents an accurate assessment of the import of Jill Godmilow’s documentary.  For high school youth witnessing what was the reality of the Vietnam War from the distance of fifty years and depicted as a graphic pictorial “scrap book” of the horror of what war is may seem incongruous. The overall affect is powerfully assembled however with the combining of still photography on the ground with the war for our contemplation contextualized with the authors own poignant narration.

WARNING: This work depicts graphic violence closeup and raw in black and white of the killing of civilians and the destruction of their lives, a war that has faded into a revisionist narrative of U.S. good but failed intentions. Even though this learning resource is intended for high school students, it will encounter great resistance or total opposition to letting the high school audience it was intended for to ever be allowed to view it in their social studies history classroom. If you are a teacher that wishes to present this to your students as part of their study of U.S. history you will find a lesson plan to accompany it linked below the Vimeo video documentary on this page.

JROTC Is Preying on Poor Students

A recent string of revelations about abuses by the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps presents an opportunity to rein in the military’s presence and power in public schools.

The G. Holmes Braddock Senior High School Naval JROTC Unit cadets at the Miami Beach, Florida Veterans Day Parade, November 11, 2022. (Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images)01.08.2023 / Seth Kershner Scott Harding / Jacobin - The Pentagon’s signature program for instilling military values in American schools, the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), has a long history dating to 1916. But it hasn’t endured such bad press since the 1970s. In several damning articles, the New York Times revealed the structure of what’s wrong with high school military training: instructors who use their positions to prey on teenage girls, in-school shooting ranges built with grants from the National Rifle Association, and mandatory enrollment in some of the nation’s largest school districts — all abetted by school officials who fail to adequately monitor a program of such dubious educational value that many instructors lack a college degree.

These revelations have vindicated those in the “counter-recruitment” movement who for years warned of a largely unsupervised program taught by retired military officers. It also raises serious questions about why military training programs have any place in US public high schools.

The Pentagon spends around $400 million annually to provide training in military drill and “leadership” through the JROTC in more than 3,500 high schools, to approximately five hundred thousand students. Despite this presence, the program seems to operate on the fringes, with school officials exercising scant oversight even as instructors take their young “cadets” on extended travel to military bases and interschool competitions. Such conditions foster an environment rife with potential abuse.

The Times identified at least thirty-three JROTC instructors who had been criminally charged with sexual misconduct with their students, and found evidence that numerous other instructors were accused but never charged. According to the education outlet Chalkbeat, Chicago’s head of school military instruction quietly resigned last summer, three years after failing to inform officials of suspected sexual abuse by a JROTC instructor who was later arrested.

Thousands of Teens Are Being Pushed Into Military’s Junior R.O.T.C.

In high schools across the country, students are being placed in military classes without electing them on their own. “The only word I can think of is ‘indoctrination,’” one parent said.

 

At South Atlanta High School, the principal decided several years ago to start all freshmen in J.R.O.T.C.Credit...Zack Wittman for The New York TimesDec. 11, 2022 / Mike Baker, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Ilana Marcus / New York Times - On her first day of high school, Andreya Thomas looked over her schedule and found that she was enrolled in a class with an unfamiliar name: J.R.O.T.C.

She and other freshmen at Pershing High School in Detroit soon learned that they had been placed into the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a program funded by the U.S. military designed to teach leadership skills, discipline and civic values — and open students’ eyes to the idea of a military career. In the class, students had to wear military uniforms and obey orders from an instructor who was often yelling, Ms. Thomas said, but when several of them pleaded to be allowed to drop the class, school administrators refused.

“They told us it was mandatory,” Ms. Thomas said.

J.R.O.T.C. programs, taught by military veterans at some 3,500 high schools across the country, are supposed to be elective, and the Pentagon has said that requiring students to take them goes against its guidelines. But The New York Times found that thousands of public school students were being funneled into the classes without ever having chosen them, either as an explicit requirement or by being automatically enrolled.

A review of J.R.O.T.C. enrollment data collected from more than 200 public records requests showed that dozens of schools have made the program mandatory or steered more than 75 percent of students in a single grade into the classes, including schools in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Mobile, Ala. A vast majority of the schools with those high enrollment numbers were attended by a large proportion of nonwhite students and those from low-income households, The Times found.

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