I hope Frank Ready’s 10/1 article on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (and Jim Hironimus’ 10/2 letter) entice readers to visit The Traveling Wall at Innovation Park. It was also nice to find a Cal Thomas column that I could mostly agree with in the 9/26 CDT. But his assertion that “misjudgments by egomaniacal politicians” is one of “the real lessons of Vietnam” is only partially true in his glowing critique of the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick film, “The Vietnam War.” That generally excellent documentary (a few slights and blaring omissions) leads with a similar claim that Vietnam was “a tragic miscalculation.” Later in that series, John Kerry, representing Vietnam Veterans Against the War, asks the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for mistake?”
The American War in Indochina was not a misjudgment, miscalculation or mistake. Linguist Noam Chomsky has it exactly right when he declares that “Vietnam was not a mistake or tragic error. It was an example that said to the world: ‘This is what you get when you defy the wishes of the U.S. ruling elite.’ It was an example ... and a crime.”
As a veteran of the Vietnam Theater of War, I will never fault anyone who served out of duty or conviction or who refused openly to serve for the same reasons. But a year in Southeast Asia taught me that blood shed there can’t retroactively sanctify it.
Douglas M. Mason, Port Matilda