In January 1973, President Nixon announced a halt to all U.S. offensive action against North Vietnam. A couple of weeks later, the draft officially ended. By March, the withdrawal of all U.S. troops, and release of the 590 U.S. prisoners of war held by communist forces in South Vietnam was complete.
It should be no surprise then that the 1973 pop music chart topper was Tony Orlando and Dawn’s Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, which won an American Music Award the following year.
Past double digits, and not yet a teenager, I had a whole life ahead that I foolishly believed would no longer include war. My life to that point had included the backdrop of the war in Vietnam and the incessant drum beat of potential global annihilation, so I had an idyllic sense of hope that this would be the last. It did not escape my attention that we could become victims of “the button” at any time and that all was not right between Israel and Syria.
Maybe it was political; ridding the world of communism, maybe it was like the song Money from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album…
It’s a crime
Share it fairly
But don’t take a slice of my pie
So they say
Is the root of all evil today
Perhaps it has always been about power or vanity —about who’s in charge. I never understood war then and I am no closer to understanding it now.
In April that year, the ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the World Trade Center in New York. I first saw the twin towers as I stood on the sidewalk alongside them in 1976 while on a field trip to New York City, but I didn’t get the opportunity to go inside until late spring of 1993 only a few months after the bombing there.
The sidewalk, closed for repairs made the surrounding block much more crowded, even for New York. I admit it was unnerving to step into the place that I knew had been a target before.
Our group went to the mezzanine and at some point took a high-speed elevator to the top. I have a photo of myself taken atop the observation deck; a 3×5 piece of history. I cannot begin to wrap my head around the colossal loss of those structures, any more that I can fathom the enormous loss of innocent lives. Maybe we were just so vain to believe we were invincible.