Interview Project

I interviewed my father, John, about his personal experience in America during the mid to late 60’s. At the time, Lyndon B. Johnson was president, we were involved in the Vietnam War and my father was 21. Our involvement in the war resulted in much dissatisfaction among young people at the time through protests and draft evasion which my father took part in. He took part in a protest in 1967 in New York City, lead by Martin Luther King Jr, Floyd McKissick, Stokely Carmichael and Dr. Benjamin Spock.

Eventually, wartime brought about the need for the draft, “I ended up actually experiencing going through the draft after college, my number came up, it was a lottery…”, which required him to go in for a physical before being officially drafted. Like many other men, he reluctantly attended. He, however, was excused from the draft due to a high school basketball knee injury. “…and [I] felt actually quite relieved that I wasn’t then eligible to go off to war but also felt the inequity of it–that some people had to go [and] others had to go or chose not to.” Those who did not have the same luck were so enraged that they burned their draft cards (a criminal offense).

Wartime had a significant impact on my father as he became increasingly dissatisfied with the government’s role in Vietnam. “There were a lot of photographs and news stories of some of the damage being done by the war effort–memorable photographs of villagers fleeing Napalm Bombs.┬áHe was deeply upset by the American Government’s “misguided effort”. His parents, although they disagreed with him, accepted his decision to protest and were respectful of his opinion on war.

At age 21, my father was trying to decide on a career after majoring in Political Science at the University of New Hampshire. His original interests were to pursue a governmental position or a social work career. In disgust of the American government in wartime, he decided he never wanted to pursue a governmental position. While he was still deciding what he really wanted to pursue career-wise, he began a carpentry career which he held for 10 years until he attended Virginia Commonwealth University to pursue a social work career which ironically lead him to a local government position as a social work administrator.