An Open Letter to the House Armed Services Committee

With respect to the Viet Nam War Commemorative event(s), perhaps I’m missing something. Is it supposed to be secret? A big surprise for those Viet Nam Vets still alive when someone in DC gets around to planning and announcing it? I have yet to find a Viet Vet that has any knowledge of the commemorative possibility.


A big surprise is not a good idea. Beginning with the unfortunate statistical data which suggests that by 2015, there might be precious few Viet Nam Vets around to enjoy the ceremony.

Unlike the fighting men of other U.S. wars (with the possible exception of Korea War Vets) the Viet Nam Vet has not lived bathed in glory and praise. He has lived for the most part in a shadowland of doubt and suspicion. It would be disingenuous to not recognize that the mega-media and academic portrayal of the Viet Nam War as somehow immoral or ‘wrong,’ tainted the reputation of the Viet Nam Veterans. Even forgetting for the moment that the media was woefully mistaken, it is the celebration of the vets service to their country which is to be commemorated, not an opinion about the war.

At a minimum, I would hope that the Committee shed some light on the Commemoration. It is to be hoped that the process is headed by a strong supporter of the commemoration. That there is a strong and active advisory board composed of Admirals and Generals who know how to get things done, know about the war, and care deeply for their fellow veterans. Certainly the commemoration should begin no later than 2013, the anniversary of sending American advisors to Viet Nam by President Kennedy, the first public commitment of American troops.

I cannot suggest an appropriate budget for the events. I have heard that the events commemorating just the Normandy landings cost around $35 million. Once a budget is established and the events are made public, I believe that the private sector in America will give generously, even in these tough times, to support the effort. But that cannot happen until something happens in Washington. And it will necessitate a strong, committed leader of the overall effort to make it all happen.


Why the secrecy? Why not a strong leader and spokesman? What is the delay in getting started? Given some of their treatment in the past, you might forgive the Viet Nam Veterans for being suspicious about the lack of urgency and government commitment to the Commemoration.

I think it was Oscar Wilde who said (after a stint in an English prison): “”If this is the way Queen Victoria treats her prisoners, then she doesn’t deserve to have any.”  Sometimes the Viet Nam Veterans must think–well, you know what they must think.

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