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    Posted May 26, 2014 by
    Bellaire, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    '60s family photos

    Leaving for Vietnam


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Steven Pekarna was 21 when he left his home in Minnesota for Vietnam in 1969. "I was afraid to go to Vietnam -- the press gave it a one-way trip. I felt my mother trembling when I hugged her goodbye."

    He volunteered for the draft and was committed to serving his country despite his fears, but the controversy surrounding the Vietnam War and the many anti-war protests happening around the country made him and other soldiers feel uncomfortable and unwanted, he says. "It was such an uncertain time and we were adrift in chaos and despair for serving our country."

    On the morning this photo was taken, Pekarna's mother Angela, who is holding his hand in this photo, made him French toast because it was his favorite, he says. This photo of him and his mother "doesn't show the terror we were both hiding from each other," he said.
    - Verybecoming, CNN iReport producer

    This is a photo of myself and my mother on the back step of our house in Minnesota, as I left for a year service in Vietnam in March 1969. It was a tense period of history in our country. Large anti-war demonstrations and protest marches. Soldiers going to and from Vietnam were met with protesting students and shouted at in the airports. My long-time girlfriend at the time, broke up with me before I shipped out. Only my family stayed with me and helped me through the turmoil. This picture is frozen in time for me and kept me sane in the coming insanity.
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