I was surprised when I saw the indy film, The Drummer (2020), starring Danny Glover. He portrayed an older man helping those, in ways both big and small, ways that could have landed people in jail. The majority of people alive today never experienced or for that matter never even heard about the struggles of the Viet Nam years.
This movie was not set in Nam. It was not about heroic resisters who refused to go to Nam. Rather this is a nuanced look at how difficult it was to resist, especially when you are fighting a lonely fight. This movie does not take a heroic view of resistance. Resistance was often difficult and full of vacillations. View it and marvel how many sacrifices many people made.
During the Nam years I was a Nike Hercules Nuclear Missile repair person in South Korea. I was trained to arm the nuclear warhead. Additionally, I was trained in Chemical, Biological, and Radiological warfare–a veritable killing machine.
I had dropped out of college and had made 18 years-old. I didn’t know what else to do, both my younger brothers were college educated. The youngest of the three of us became a cardiologist primarily serving the residents of our part of the city until Katrina ripped out his Heartbeats Life Center. When I signed up in 1965, I told the recruiter that I want to go anywhere except Viet Nam.
He laughed. I said “I’m sure ya’ll have some jobs they don’t use in Viet Nam.” He saw that I was serious, and simply said, “yes, but you have to pass a test to get one of those jobs.”
“Give me the test.” I was confident I could pass any test they might have–when I was in the army I developed one of my axioms about the average White male; “if the average White boy could do it, it couldn’t be hard.” That’s how I ended up doing work on nuclear missiles.
I have met Danny Glover a number of times. He is a sensitive and committed man who is a professional actor who has been in a number of block-buster movies, which is why I was so surprised when I saw this movie. It’s not Hollywood. It’s the hard choices that people made during the Nam years.
Check it and wonder if you could do what a relatively small number of people did.