Your Turn

Readers write, react and respond. (November/December 2017)

Vietnam
“Crossing the Line” [by Andy Barrie ’67, September/October] is a paean to all of us who “took the road less traveled by.” I, too, blew the comps that were in fact ridiculous as well as irrelevant for my classics degree.

Also a Jersey boy, I recall peering down Main Street freshman year, looking for the revolution. It had not happened yet. Our four years preceded the political conflagration many of us chose to enter after departing a bucolic Hanover. Two years later, gifted with a medical school deferment, I hit the streets of Newark, New Jersey. This time I found the revolution, starting the student health clinic that still exists. Our resistance, a year after the riots up and down the incinerated Bloomington Avenue, demanded recognition of the inequities of healthcare and oppression of a black minority.

I was never sure if I wanted to attend or blow up my medical school. My grades reflected my militant turmoil as a member of the student health organization. God knows why the dean let me return if I promised to be good. The resistance and anger continued. I still remember the serpentine line of white-coated students and faculty marching down South Orange Avenue protesting a war that was a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. Our leaders were enlisting minorities to die for a country that was oppressing them. Four years later, by the time I entered my internship in 1972, the military was no longer conscripting doctors. I chose to work with Native Americans in the inner city of Minneapolis.

Barrie voted with his feet, and his decision is commendable. Those were exciting and dangerous times that, like the Holocaust, should not be forgotten, especially in our current political morass.

Peter J. Dorsen ’66
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

 

I also was drafted in 1968, and although it caused a disruption in my graduate business education, I stepped forward because I knew that should I run to Canada, someone else would have to take my place.

The inconvenient truth is that being drafted interrupted Barrie’s career. While I never met him, the guy that I kept from taking my place I hope had a long and prosperous life, unlike a handful of guys I knew on the wall who didn’t.

Lance M. Roberts ’66
Charleston, West Virginia

 

The deeply moving account of becoming a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, and of reaching safe haven in Canada, recalls Gen. Lewis Hershey’s speech in Spaulding Auditorium in April 1966. Barrie quotes an anonymous student whose “heckle” galvanized his own outrage about the war.

I’m the anonymous student, and I can attest that Barrie describes the scene almost exactly right. As founding head of Dartmouth Students for a Democratic Society, I organized a demonstration of opposition to the war. Six or eight neatly attired and well-behaved demonstrators picketed Hopkins Center and were mildly heckled by curious onlookers, some of whom tossed bars of soap and urged us to take showers.

When the general finished speaking and invited questions, I asked him if the United States might be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, like the Nazis convicted at the Nuremberg trials. Gen. Hershey replied that the Germans got charged only because they lost. He then compared our commander-in-chief to a quarterback, who shouldn’t be second-guessed in the middle of a big game. This provoked my indignant reaction, sarcastically commending Hitler for 6 million touchdowns.

By the following year, in response to a campaign appearance by Gov. George Wallace, campus demonstrations became less civil. But that is another chapter in the history of Dartmouth in those turbulent times.

Thanks to Andy Barrie, we can better understand the high passions and drama of those days in Hanover and beyond. And I’m touched to learn, after 50 years, that I wasn’t a solitary vox clamantis in deserto.

Robert H. Bell ’67
Williamstown, Massachusetts

 

I read with interest the story by my classmate about his odyssey to Canada during the Vietnam War. I participated with Barrie in a panel discussion about the war at our recent 50th reunion, along with two other ’67s who served as Marine Corps officers.

My sole accomplishment was being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1970 while attending Harvard Law School (the last ROTC graduates at the university for the next 43 years!). The highlight
of the panel was hearing Barrie’s compelling story, which served as a cathartic message for many in the room. After a half century the dissensions are assuaged. There may never be final resolution of this time of great national turmoil, which did not bypass Dartmouth, but at least after all these years we are moving in the right direction.

Phil Curtis ’67
Atlanta

 

As for the alumnus who fled to Canada to avoid service, I wonder about the Vietnam experiences of the one who took his place.

Brad Morehouse ’46
Southport, Connecticut

 

Great retrospective! Some new historical wrinkles in what I know (remember) of the times. My brother did the same as Barrie—
he’s still in Canada. Thanks for the best read I’ve had in a long time.

Peter Coombs ’64
Wakefield, Massachusetts

 

Many friends and neighbors joined the armed forces out of high school based on love of country. To see a story written by a confessed deserter is an insult.

Louis N. Pernokas ’47
Stephenville, Texas

 

Interesting article. It would have been more interesting if the author had delved more deeply into his motivation for deserting. He talked about applying for conscientious objector status without really fleshing out the basis of his conscientious objection. He danced around the issue, mentioning the Holocaust and following orders and such. However, I think he gave it away with “many of the medics trained before me were returning home in body bags.” The article would have been so much more engaging, credible and human if he had simply admitted, “I was afraid to go.”

Al Chaker ’84
Newport, Rhode Island

 

I read with great interest the article by C.J. Hughes ’92 [“The Idiocy of War,” July/August]. As a career officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a graduate of ROTC in 1957, I served in Vietnam in 1965 as an advisor to six different Vietnamese engineer supply depots and facilities.

In 1968-69 I was the executive officer of a 1,000-man engineer battalion, building roads up to the Cambodian border east of Saigon. I saw the war at the beginning and at its maximum buildup, but it wasn’t until I read President Jim Wright’s book Enduring Vietnam that I fully appreciated what was really going on. I strongly recommend reading it.

In 1965 most people had never heard of Vietnam as witnessed by the following anecdote: I moved my wife and two children to a small town near Peoria, Illinois, in February 1965. My wife was asked by a neighbor where her husband was. She replied that he was in Vietnam. The neighbor then asked, “Does he come home on the weekends?” And yes, I was spit upon while coming up the steps at the San Francisco airport in June 1969.

Charles Sherman Mills Jr. ’57
Dumfries, Virginia

 

I enjoyed reading “The Idiocy of War,” a good article with great pictures on a subject that is largely neglected. The men and women who served there, and the people of Vietnam, deserve better. In all fairness, though, Hughes’ comment in the first paragraph, “many veterans were loath to discuss their combat experiences in the conflict for decades—even among close family members” misses the mark. As a physician who has seen many patients in the Veterans Administration hospital system, and whose father was a Marine on Iwo Jima, it is clear that veterans never discuss any combat experiences with anyone except fellow veterans (and perhaps their physicians). Veterans would not put the burden of those hellish times on their loved ones.

Bob Tibolt ’76
Wilsonville, Oregon

 

Diversity Consensus
In the September/October DAM, President Phil Hanlon ’77 wrote eloquently about diversity of opinion on the campus of the College [“Diversity of Opinion”]. His defense of that diversity is in keeping with the values of the liberal arts education we received at Dartmouth.

Shortly after his opinion piece appeared, Hanlon was challenged by the comments made on national media by visiting lecturer Mark Bray, about the violent attacks of antifa on white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and elsewhere. Hanlon rose to the occasion with a strong defense of the right to speak an unpopular opinion, but he strongly stated that the violence that was being defended violated the values of the College.

I am proud of what Hanlon said. Nevertheless, some 100 members of the Dartmouth faculty dissented, as is their right. But those 100 faculty members should understand that their tolerance for violence, and those who would defend political violence, opens the door to their being silenced by the “hecklers’ veto” or worse.

John T. Fishel ’64
Blanchard, Oklahoma

 

Kudos to President Hanlon for his comments regarding listening to another point of view. I hope students, not just alumni, read his words.

Bob Armknecht ’60
Westport, Massachusetts

 

I was proud to see that Dartmouth had displayed the intellectual courage to allow radical speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus without censure or rioting and to read President Hanlon’s profound defense of free speech. This is Dartmouth at its best.

Jack Woods ’51, Th’52
Basking Ridge, New Jersey

 

President Hanlon clearly adds “diversity of opinion” to the basket of other much-discussed diversities that contribute to the quality of an education. That he had to decline repeatedly the requests of those who wanted him to cancel the visits of “highly controversial speakers” to the College suggests that his essay has a needed audience at least among some who help shape the on- and off-campus experiences of Dartmouth students.

Clete DiGiovanni ’56
La Mesa, California

 

Innocence
Thank you for covering the release of Lamarr Monson from prison  [“Pursuits,” September/October]. Many, many individuals worked hard for many years to bring about that result, and we are so happy for Monson and his family.

The article notes that he was expected to have a new trial this fall. Thankfully, I now have better news to share: Based on the new evidence, the prosecution decided to drop charges against Monson entirely, and he no longer has to face a new trial. Instead, he has been fully exonerated and is (finally) a truly free man. His profile is up on the National Registry of Exonerations with the full story of his case.

Damayanti “Dimpy” Desai ’13
Washington, D.C.

 

A Matter of Taste
I found Jane Stern’s article about the Dartmouth dining scene about as elitist as you can get [“Bon Appétit,” July/August].

You highlight two sentences: “In the bad old days of college cafeterias, your choices boiled down to ‘looks disgusting’ or ‘looks really disgusting.’ The food at Dartmouth’s dining halls looks more like it’s from a brochure for a cruise ship.” The first sentence is utterly false. The food was so popular in 1965 that the freshmen held a brief food riot, clamoring for unlimited seconds! (I’m not condoning the riot, the aftermath of which Thayer ladies and student workers had to clean up.) Great food, just not enough of it.

Looking back, of course I see that it was heavy on meat and carbs, and the trend toward healthier foods is certainly welcome. However, the second sentence quoted from Stern points to a larger issue, that of catering to students’ perceived whims as colleges try to outdo each other in the latest country club-style amenities.

Do we really need to worry about making “the eating experience more competitive”? For what? Surely Dartmouth will still enroll enough of the best and brightest from its applicant pool, whether or not it has umpteen food stations with exotic offerings.

Peter J. Thompson ’68
Post Mills, Vermont

 

Can’t We Get Along?
I was not pleased to read the note from attorney Allegra Love ’03, director and supervising attorney of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project [“Your Turn,” September/October], who holds a law degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.

It is nice that she wants to help other human beings, especially vulnerable women and children, but I believe she is a product of criminal, left-wing brainwashing of Dartmouth students by its liberal faculty. Is it really necessary to blame everything on President Trump? 

Dave Clarke ’58
Satellite Beach, Florida

 

More Wine, Please!
How delightful it was to see so many Dartmouth grads involved in the California wine industry [“Lone Pine Wine,” July/August]. The vineyard and wine business requires passion, rugged individualism and an entrepreneurial spirit—a great match for Dartmouth people. I was disappointed that only California was covered in the article. While it is by far the largest producer, we sometimes forget that nearly all of the 49 other states have wineries, too—including some with Dartmouth connections. Like mine.

I founded DuCard Vineyards (in Etlan, Virginia, just north of Charlottesville) in 2001, planting grapes on a property bordering the Shenandoah National Park, and then opened as a winery in 2010. We have been named Virginia’s “greenest winery” (how appropriate!) for our sustainability and environmental stewardship, which includes solar power, reclaimed wood construction, local products and suppliers and more.

We’ve been pleased to host local alumni groups, a few of my classmates and a whole range of folks who like the off-the-grid, boutique environment we offer. I extend an invitation to all alumni and friends as they visit the park or Monticello or other central Virginia landmarks just outside Washington, D.C., to come on out to DuCard. And I hope a broader profile of Dartmouth vineyards and wineries nationwide can be compiled and published as well.

Scott Elliff ’75
Charlottesville, Virginia

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