Saturday, September 14, 2013

Garfield Ridge Reaction--43 Years Later--to "Silent Majority" Vietnam War Film

Many thanks to our our friends at the Clear-Ridge Historical Society (as well as Chicago
Film Archives and the Garfield Ridge Branch Library) for hosting a screening of a newly (and beautifully) restored print of a 1970 film ("Eight Flags For 99¢") that looks at the Vietnam War through the eyes of the Silent Majority--specifically, in Garfield Ridge.

The film (embedded below) played to a packed room at the Garfield Ridge Branch Library on the evening of Thursday, September 12.

The audience was mostly current and former Garfield Ridge residents, including some who were in the 1970 film.

Father Leonard Dubi makes a point in the discussion.
The discussion after the screening (video highlights embedded below) echoed the sentiments expressed in the 1970 film and shows--sadly, perhaps--that not much has changed in 40-plus years.

More info about the film from Chicago Film Archives:

"8 FLAGS FOR 99 CENTS" (1970, Mike Gray Associates, Chuck Olin, Joel Katz) was produced in response to President Nixon’s famous November, 1969 speech when he
Screen shots from the film.
contrasted the unlawful and vocal anti-war protesters to the respectful “silent majority” who were in favor of remaining in Vietnam to fight communism. This film explores the thoughts and opinions of the “silent majority” represented by the folks living in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood on the Southwest Side of Chicago.

The commentary that arose from the Garfield Ridge community turned the filmmakers’ expectations (as well as conventional wisdom of the times) on its head. Expecting to record pro-war and pro-government slogans and sentiments, the filmmakers were caught somewhat off guard by the thoughtful, nuanced, and distressed analysis articulated by those that were interviewed and recorded. Contractors, firemen, mothers, fathers, barbers, Vietnam vets and clerks have varied and layered thoughts on America’s involvement in the war. One 20 year-old store clerk is most moving as she speaks with composure yet deep anxiety about the uncertain future her peer group is facing. Residents of all ages speak to the war in this film with very little evidence of hostility between generations, shattering another iconic image of those politically tumultuous times.

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1 comment:

  1. Much appreciation to the makers of this local film, and the organizations that brought it to the fore once again through the re-showing and discussion.

    I must say, as a teen in that era of 'Vietnam', who was very much against war, and now as an adult (who still is, if not moreso), I was very surprised at the deep-felt comments made by the majority of this local representation of the so-called 'Silent Majority'.

    And, as someone mentions in this historical film, the so-called 'Generation Gap' did not seem to be the sinkhole it seemingly appeared to be. What a way to control people! The old Roman 'divide and conquer' spin. Keep the elders feeling-- as was voiced-- 'helpless', keep them feeling the younger generation's anger was criminal-- the feared and dreaded anarchistic, communistic, socialistic 'boogeymen'. Keep the younger generation feeling the S.M. generation had betrayed them. Spin that, and a country can be controlled...and silenced-- suffering the consequences. Because, as was said--and it is still true today--it is definitely not the warmongers who are sending their children to suffer and die--or come home and suffer and die!

    Quite a few-- then and now-- also said--'nothing's changed'. Well, how about we change it? Who's going to if not U.S.?
    I've been willing to both attend 'polite discussions' about war, as well as get out on the streets and protest the violence of war--and I've done so quite a few times).

    I don't have children but I don't want YOUR children or grandchildren to be duped into fighting money(read: oil) wars for the few at the top who see your kids--if they 'see them at all'-- as so much fodder to make their billions by.

    I don't want your kids to come back (as the veteran in the second video so honestly voiced)-- bitter, bruised, damaged...dead (psychologically, if not literally).

    We the People DO have power--yes, even at the local level-- and CAN 'make statements'that gain attention until it becomes self-evident to many, and eventually most, if not all, that WE don't want war NO MORE!

    It seems--after seeing this film, the peace we wanted then, shows that yes,indeed 'nothing HAS changed' in this respect. We STILL want peace! Isn't it about time we make it so?

    Locally, every time I pass a 'Veteran's Memorial' (esp. the ones with the cannons), I envision instead, a Peace Park (a small garden --with no more guns on display). Instead, small community sanctuaries where we can literally turn our 'swords into plowshares'-- or flowers, if you will. A place to pause and intend for the peace we want; or to pray for the protection of those we love who still might be fighting some 'baseless war'.

    This doesn't mean we have to forget or dishonor the veterans of past wars. In truth, we can better honor all soldiers who gave/give their lives, while yet making a present, active statement for peace: That we no longer want our young to die for naught, and in such meaningless, terrible ways-- war that destroys real lives, real families, real communities, real nations, a real world.

    If the veterans of all wars, past and present now join together and take up this cause to do this with the support of the rest of us, we can promote the peace we always wanted in this way and tell our governments--local and in D.C., no more war. Imagine, if in every community across the nation, we did this-- turned our war memorials into memorial gardens instead? The message would reach Washington...and WallStreet, that MainStreet is no longer playing their deadly games!

    I, for one, would feel honored to help voluntarily upkeep such a park that stands for peace. And, I trust the Silent Majority would come forth to, to plant seasonal flowers, clean up and maintain-- to set a spell and lend your peaceful intentions there too. Imagine the healing that can happen?

    I think we all have at least THIS much power in our own community....don't you?