"The Vietnam War turns 50!" commemorates 2014 as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Vietnam.  BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
"The Vietnam War turns 50!" commemorates 2014 as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Vietnam. BRETTA GRABAU/BLUFF COUNTRY NEWSPAPERS
It is a hot topic. Vietnam has been seen through many different viewpoints. Some are proud they were able to serve their country. Others think it was something that should never have happened.

But it did happen and nothing can change that fact in history. On Aug. 2, 1964, a United States destroyer and Vietnamese patrol boats engaged in a firefight resulting in the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution formally increasing the tension with Vietnam to a more warlike "conflict" a few days later. Prior to this, the matter of Vietnam was more of a simmering conflict.

The United States had been embroiled in the Cold War against the Soviet Union for almost two decades, fighting a war against communism. Using the Domino Theory, which held that "a communist victory in one nation would quickly lead to a chain reaction of communist takeovers in neighboring states," according to History.com, the United States focused on stopping the Vietnamese from falling under communistic rule.

The ensuing years continued to see fighting in Vietnam and at home, the country was divided by those who supported the war and those who fought against it.

"Vietnam was not fought in a traditional form like World War II with the tanks and airplanes. It was guerilla warfare that generals often approached using the traditional method," noted Tom Driscoll, CEO and editor of Shipwreckt Books Publishing Company in Lanesboro.

The formal engagement in Vietnam lasted until Henry Kissinger signed the Paris Peace Accord in January 1973. By this time, those who had supported the war and those who fought against the war were sick of it.

"The Hawks, who supported the war, and the Doves, who wanted peace, were all sick of the war. There was tremendous turmoil in the United States at the time and the spirit of war evaporated," Driscoll related.

Two years later in April, Saigon in South Vietnam fell. This is referred to as Black April by Vietnamese refugees and others.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of this tragic period, Driscoll compiled literature from numerous authors into his magazine "Lost Lake Folk Opera."

"The Vietnam War turns 50!" includes points of view and opinions from many sources, including local authors and others from across the country.

There are many different angles within the magazine. One is from the viewpoint of a child seeing her father return from war and criticized.

"I remember how uncool it was to be in the military back then. You were not comfortable until you were with people who had also been in the military," Driscoll related.

Another view is how the draft could be beneficial.

"War is a traumatic and horrible exercise and it is too easy to stand back and take the easy way out versus fighting the enemy. When you think of the idea of getting shot yourself, it makes you really think if we should be in this war," he added.

Still another is how Vietnam affected the military in later years, even through to the present.

Each viewpoint is expressed in its own particular style, from essays to poetry.

"What I want is to dig into issues like Vietnam and challenge the people to look at it through clear lenses," Driscoll commented. "I want people to think 'Is this the right, moral decision? What is the exit strategy? What are the consequences?'"

Some of those who included their own perspectives about Vietnam within "The Vietnam War turns 50!" include Congressman Tim Walz; the author of "365 Days," Dr. Ron Glasser; Steve Sarvi from Rushford and Dee Slinde of Lanesboro, to name a few.

Driscoll acquired these various perspectives in numerous ways such as accessing a writer pool, uploaded submissions on the Internet, held an open call for writers and personal acquaintance.

"I got a submission from someone in Oregon and up on the North Shore I do not know. In April I just called up to Washington and set up an interview with Tim Walz. It seemed like a good time to talk about it and how to treat veterans," he noted.

Of course, Driscoll includes his own opinion on the Vietnam War in the magazine as well.

"My dad fought in World War II. It was only 20 years before, but for me it felt like a long time ago since it was before I was born. He thought that since he had gone through that war, I would grow up going to war, too. The war turned life upside down," Driscoll said.

After his time in the service, however, Driscoll and his parents all had a new relationship with each other.

"My mom was a WAC (Women's Army Corps) during World War II, so we had a relationship that none of my brothers and sisters had because they had not been in the military," he stated.

Though in his mind the war was not right based on the Domino Theory and was unable to find more facts about it at the time, the fact that he could relate to his parents in a different way, since all three had been involved in war at some point, was positive.

"Lost Lake Folk Opera" often includes local authors, but in an effort to expand his marketplace, authors from the Twin Cities and across the country are included in general and in "The Vietnam War turns 50!"

"Lost Lake Folk Opera at this point is writer-driven, but the writers are quite generous and happy to just see their writing in print," Driscoll said.

Driscoll hopes to sell both locally and nationally in places like Washington, New York, Chicago and more, making it a viable business venture that pays for itself. The magazine is available online at www.shipwrecktbooks.com, at the IGA stores in Rushford, Harmony and Preston and at Beste Byen and Crown Trout Jewelers in Lanesboro.