Robert M. Givens grew up in the Midwest, graduating in 1966 from Millikin University in his hometown of Decatur, Illinois, and from Indiana University in 1968. He married his college sweetheart, Connie, and by age twenty-four worked as assistant to the dean of students at the University of Connecticut. His wife was a schoolteacher, and they both were hopeful that his job at a respected university and his age would help him avoid the draft.
However, as the US increased its military involvement in Vietnam, more bodies were needed to fight in this unpopular war. Robert received his draft notice in early 1969, and, after five months of training, he was sent to serve in the infantry in South Vietnam.
The war experiences were intensely personal for Robert. He thought his education somehow made him intellectually superior to most soldiers; he thought his age and marital status gave him some vocational privilege; he felt secure in his religious agnosticism. All of these views were challenged during his time in Vietnam. The war-time experiences were life changing for him. He and his fellow soldiers came home from a war in the fields of Vietnam to a war of protests raging in the streets of our cities. This story tells in poignant ways how these experiences eventually reformed Robert’s life including a new-found faith in the Lord. And years later, he found heroes who emerged and encouraged him and other returning soldiers, helping both them and our country to heal.