(Debuted June 1, 1985, Peaked #15, 14 Weeks on the Chart)
Growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was a fan of American History. Particularly, I read up on several books pertaining to both World Wars. What eventually stood out for me was the realization that while there was so much information about those wars handy, the information about the Vietnam war was a lot more scarce. What made this oddly interesting is that I was a military brat at the time and my father and the fathers of many of my friends had served in that war, but many of them really didn't talk a lot about what happened there.
Since I was born in 1972 (with Dad missing my delivery because he was serving in 'Nam), I missed the events of the time the U.S. was involved in Vietnam. I never witnessed a demonstration, nor did I get conscripted into uniform because my number was called. I never saw anybody get called a "baby killer." I never knew what it was like to have a uniformed official come to the door and break the terrible news that a loved one wasn't coming back home. Instead, I grew up in an environment where many just preferred the memories would go away, in order for the wounds that were still relatively fresh to heal. It was a mess, I was told, one that was difficult to explain.
By 1985, I was no longer living on military installations because my parents were splitting up. During that summer, I heard "19" play on the radio and was naturally drawn to it. Not so much the stuttering "Nine-nine-nine-nineteen" bit that my friends poked fun at, but the sound bites of soldiers that were talking about their experience and the news reporter (find a name) that was explaining the war's effects. For a kid who liked to watch history-based documentaries and listen to the radio, the song featured elements of both. "19" was explained in the song as the average age of the Vietnam-era combat soldier, and the soldiers speaking in it sounded like they weren't much older than I was at that time...in away, like the older brothers of some of my friends rather than our fathers. Since my frame of reference involved veterans who were already well into their thirties, hearing them as kids was a real eye-opener.