Vietnam a haze for young adults PERSIAN GULF SHOWDOWN

January 31, 1991|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Evening Sun Staff

Their memories of the Vietnam War are few. What little recollection they have comes in bits and fragments, like film clips from an old movie.

"I remember very little about Vietnam," says Mason Holloway, 26, of Annapolis. "I just remember it being very tense in the living room. I didn't understand why I had to shut up when the news came on."

Much has been written about school children and collegians living through their first war.

But like Holloway, the generation of young adults, the post-baby boomers, the 20-somethings, also are having to deal with war for the first time.

Many of them weren't of school age at the height of the America's last major war between 1965 and 1971. And many were small children when the United States withdrew the last of its troops in 1975. People aged 20 to 29 make up nearly a fifth of the U.S. population today.

"I can remember this green haze on the TV, looking at the pictures from Vietnam," says Holloway, who publishes business directories. "I don't remember much more than that. There were no older boys in the family. I'm the only male. No one close to us went [to Vietnam]. The prevailing mood was just tense."

His business partner, John Keller, 28, says he doesn't remember much about the Vietnam War despite his family's active role in it.

The son of a retired West Point lieutenant colonel, Keller says he has one brother who served in Vietnam, but was not directly involved in the conflict. Another brother was a conscientious objector. His father supported them both, Keller says.

Conversations with both brothers have helped Keller to better understand both wars, he says.

"America's war with Vietnam, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, they're both very similar," Keller says. "They were both doing something they had no business doing in a place they shouldn't have been. This [war with Iraq] isn't the same.

"I know it sounds strange, but I'm 100 percent for the war in the gulf, and I'm 100 percent for peace. I just think this is something that has to be done," Keller adds.

Neither man recalls any history lessons, in high school or college, on the Vietnam War.

"I learned about Vietnam in the '80s when all the Vietnam movies started to come out," Keller says. "I went to see 'Platoon' with my brother and we talked about it."

Teacher Tim Rhodes, 26, says he spends much of his days talking to his middle-school students about the war. The only thing he remembers about Vietnam, however, is that it seemed far away and not part of his life, Rhodes says.

"It's hard to answer a 12-year-old's questions when you don't know yourself," the Glen Burnie man says. "I just tell them I'm going through this for the first time myself."

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