Guest Post: Where Were You During the Vietnam War by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Today we have a treat for our readers.  Phyllis Zimbler Miller, who wrote the Vietnam War novel Mrs. Lieutenant:  A Sharon Gold Novel –available in paperback or for Kindle — has provided us with a guest post on where she was during the Vietnam War.

Please give her a warm welcome.

On my third date with my future husband while the song “The Duke of Earl” (or it might have been “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”) played on a phonograph at a college party he told me he was going to Vietnam.  He was, after all, in ROTC at Michigan State University and it was the winter of 66-67.  (This was before the first draft lottery in December of 1969 when his number turned out to be 16.)

And from then on I stuck my head so deep into the sands of denial that my memories of those war years are rather dim.  Of course, it helped to be attending college at a very apolitical university.  (University of Michigan was the Michigan state university political hotbed and I had decided against applying to the University of Wisconsin, another political hotbed, because the hill on campus was too steep.  Yes, I was that shallow then.)

In those days we didn’t have televisions in our dorm rooms or our sorority rooms – I was an Alpha Epsilon Phi.  I do remember clearly when Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot – I was just getting dressed for the formal rush event – and a few months later when Robert Kennedy was shot.  (We watched the ensuing events on the one black-and-white television in the lounge of the sorority house.)

From Yael K. Miller

When I wrote the novel Mrs. Lieutenant I consulted historical records and put a news blurb at the beginning of each chapter to orient people who knew nothing about the war.

Here are a few new blurbs from the two-month incursion into Cambodia ordered by President Nixon that brought about the Kent State National Guard shootings on May 4, 1970:

May 6, 1970:

Governor Reagan closes down entire California university and college system in effort to cool student tempers.

May 8, 1970:

70 injured in clash on Wall Street between construction workers and student anti-war demonstrators

May 16, 1970:

Armed Forces Day observances at 23 military bases canceled due to planned anti-war demonstrations.

May 22, 1970:

White House announces U.S. prepared to continue air cover if needed for South Vietnamese forces expected to remain in Cambodia after U.S. troops withdrawn.

The nation was very much divided over U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam.  There was a draft and many Americans didn’t even know Vietnam existed until the nightly news showed the fighting.

Today in discussions about U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan references are often made to U.S. policy in Vietnam.  I don’t know enough to say whether these references are justified.  Yet it’s a good idea for us to know as much as we can about the recent past – U.S. fighting in Vietnam – when we consider the future – U.S. fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From Yael K. Miller

If you’d like to learn more about the sacrifices being made today by our military personnel and their families to protect our freedoms, see the video clips at my site  And also see the information about the Vietnam War at my novel’s site  Also please check out some sample chapters from her new, unpublished work LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS at

Thank you, Phyllis, for your look at how fiction can teach history, and we wish you luck with all of your projects.

So, where were you during the Vietnam War?  And if you were not born yet, do you know of any stories about relatives and where they were during the war?  We’d like to hear about it.

FTC Disclosure: Links will take you to an Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase is required, though appreciated to cover postage and shipping costs of challenge prizes.

Guest Post: Using Fiction to Teach History: The Vietnam War by Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Today we have a treat for our readers.  Phyllis Zimbler Miller, who wrote the Vietnam War novel Mrs. Lieutenant:  A Sharon Gold Novel –available in paperback or for Kindle — has provided us with a guest post on how fiction can be used to teach history.

Please give her a warm welcome.

How many of us remember learning about the Vietnam War in high school history classes?

Some of us may have been out of high school already when the war and the protesters raged.  Or some of us may not yet have been born.

Then there are some of us who were in high school when the Vietnam War started and were personally affected by the draft and our nation’s reaction to the fighting.

The thing is, how can high school history textbooks capture the emotions of that time?  Yes, the historical facts can be recorded in high school textbooks, but not the people behind those facts.

It took me 38 years to self-publish my novel about my first weeks as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 right after the Kent State National Guard shootings.  (If you don’t know what this historical reference is, google it.)

I wanted to preserve this very specific slice of women’s history at the beginning of the women’s movement in the U.S. when the Civil Rights Act was only six years old and the Vietnam War filled the nightly news (only three channels then – ABC, CBS and NBC) even if only on a black-and-white television.

My novel is told from the point of view of four very different women – and their stories deal with racial, religious, gender, class and geographic differences.  (Yes, in 1970 the Civil War was still being fought in the U.S.)

And so it is that I’m hoping that high school history and social studies classes will use my novel Mrs. Lieutenant to supplement the high school textbook when learning about this time in our nation’s history.

My Web site has a lesson plan for doing this.  Here’s the beginning of the lesson plan:

The assignment will be to write a guest blog post entry for the Web site about one event in the novel and relate it to the U.S. fighting in the Vietnam War at that time.  This blog post will include a brief description of the event as well as the student’s own opinion about what happened.

By focusing on one event, students will have the opportunity to delver deeper into what they thought about that specific event.

Students will better understand:

  • The opposing views regarding the Vietnam War during that time period.
  • The integration of African-Americans at that time – only six years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
  • The U.S. military then as well as the commitment of men and women who now serve.

View the rest of the lesson plan.

And the website also has a brief video on the historical background as well as discussion questions that focus on comparing then and now.

Do let me know if your high school class uses Mrs. Lieutenant to learn about the Vietnam War up close and personal.  (You can email me at pzmiller AT millermosaicllc DOT com)

And check out my site to see video clips of current documentaries and feature films about U.S. military personnel.

Thank you, Phyllis, for your look at how fiction can teach history, and we wish you luck with all of your projects.

Disclosure: I am an Amazon affiliate.

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