...Is legend--an urban myth, debunked everywhere--as it refers to civilians greeting veteran returning from Vietnam. I never met one who could say it happened to them.
It is reality, as it refers to assaults upon USer vets in VVAW, by the hard-hat, kill-four-more contingent of out citizens, during the student demonstrations against the Vietnam occupation..
May 5, 1970, the day after Kent State killings, was a day of demonstrations all across the country. In Albuquerque, the State Atty General (because both the Gov and Lt Gov were outta town) ordered the NM National Guard to prevent or stop a big demonstration on the UNM campus. The Guard debarked from their Deuce-And-A-Halfs on Centrral Ave, just off campus, formed a line, fixed unsheathed bayonets, and advanced down the Mall.
Student demonstrators waited in the space between the Admin bldg and the Student Union. I was a crowd marshall that day. All us VVAW guys were. We tried to maintain calm, and if not that, then we tried to maintain the lines...
But as the Guard got closer to the student lines, and the students seemed to show no inclination to disperse, the tension mounted. There was a clash. It happened to be near me. A Guardsman had freaked and bayonetted a student in the leg, opening his femoral artery.
Another vet and I got a tourniquet around it, and tried to lead the guy to an aid-tent. To get there, we had to pass close to police lines, behind which the redneck/hardhat contingent had set up to watch the fucking hippies get their/our asses kicked. As we passed, they showered us with spittle, death-wishes, and curses.
My opinion of "Average Murkins" suffered a blow from which I doubt it will ever recover. I shall never forget that day, and never, ever forgive that treatment.