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A famous photograph from Saigon, April 30, 1975. Photo from Hugh Van Es/Bettmann/CORBIS.

A famous photograph from Saigon, April 30, 1975. Most people think it’s from the embassy, but it’s actually at a residence for a CIA staffer. Photo from Hugh Van Es/Bettmann/CORBIS.

April 30, 1975, signaled the end of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, which had spanned nearly two decades (actually, it dated back to end of World War II). Years of fighting, years of lives lost both here and abroad.

The war certainly played a part in the evolution of Camilla Hall, the subject of a biography I’m writing. In the mid-1960s like so many, she was a peaceful anti-war protester. By 1974, she was a member of a radical terrorist organization. I think her frustration over the government’s involvement in Vietnam fueled her overall frustration with the government.

I watched the Dick Cavett special on PBS on Monday night. The frustration over the war as voiced by his guests in the early 1970s echoed the public’s sentiments. I found it enlightening to see those clips and to hear what people had to say in the moment, as someone who was not even a year old when Saigon fell.

Groucho Marx on the Dick Cavett show. Groucho had some opinions about the Vietnam War.

Groucho Marx on the Dick Cavett show. Groucho had some opinions about the Vietnam War.

On Tuesday, I watched the PBS American Experience program, “Last Days in Vietnam,” that dove into the details of Saigon’s fall. I had always known about the fall of Saigon conceptually, but had no idea what it actually entailed. I can’t stop thinking about this documentary. It perfectly captured the tension, uncertainty, and heartbreak of that day (and after).

A soldier holds a Vietnamese baby aboard the USS Kirk. The caption on the PBS website says that one woman, evacuated while very pregnant, later gave her child the middle of "Kirk." Photo by Hugh Doyle from the PBS website. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/photo-gallery/lastdays/

A U.S. sailor holds a Vietnamese baby aboard the USS Kirk. The caption on the PBS website says that one woman, evacuated while very pregnant, later gave her child the middle of “Kirk.” Photo by Hugh Doyle from the PBS website. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/photo-gallery/lastdays/

If you have only a few minutes, you MUST watch this clip from the program. It’s titled “We Jumped Out.” I couldn’t believe it.

What do you remember from April 30, 1975?

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