To the Soldiers of Operation Rolling Thunder. From the battles of Starlite, Dong Ha. To those who fought fearlessly in Saigon, Hanoi, and TET. To the tunnel rats and the warriors of Hill 937:
Over 45 years ago our country (America) set forth with the intent to help the Vietnamese fight against the ensuing surge of Communism flooding the country and the guerilla soldiers supporters known as the Viet Cong. Our country and its defenders were in for a surprise, one that could not be foreseen and to this day, understood.
Everything we know about America’s involvement in the Vietnam “police action” we learned from outside sources (media) and textbooks. We read the abridged, summarized version written by historians that probably never set foot in Vietnam let alone the battlefield. Aside from the legendary photographers who risked it all along side of the troops to capture the war with their cameras, little of what REALLY happened has been told. It seems to me the only logical place for any of us to find out the truth, would be from those who were there. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me share with you the purpose and importance of this letter.
As the current state of…the entire world teeters on the brink of war I’ve given thought to our history knowing how important it is to understand where we’ve been and what we’ve done to keep the America we’ve loved for over 200 years. As I recall watching members of “The Greatest Generation” breaking down the barriers that kept them from their own memorial, I was forced to come to terms with how quickly we’re losing them, and with them goes their stories. The truth of what happened and how they (as survivors) overcame and carried on with their lives back home. One thing’s for sure, up until recently they rarely talked about their experiences on the battlefields. I can’t question why,I can only respect them and their choices.
This is where I present you with an idea and a request to think about the importance of your story to future generations. If history is still being taught in our schools, it’s a clouded, watered down version and I think we owe the truth to the younger generations to aid in their journey as they carry on in our place. We’ve already left them a world in disarray, I think they deserve to know how it got to be this way and how to avoid irreparable damage.
I’m not suggesting you start making calls to FOX, CNN and Oprah or contacting Paramount pictures with plans for a movie deal, my only request is to think about this and if you feel it’s something you can do, share what you can or what your comfortable with sharing with those closest to you and of course who you trust. If there is no such person or they turn a deaf ear, there are countless websites set up for veterans of all wars, some are for specialized battalions where vets can share stories and pictures in forums with the same men they stood shoulder to shoulder with on the battlefields. Many of these sites are open to the public and serve as great resources; I feel I’m getting more of the truth from them then I do reading some historian’s bias accounts. If these venues of comm don’t sit well with you or are difficult, there’s always the option of writing them down, to be found when you leave this world. The more we hear from you, the less chance censored material will be taken as truth. So, If it’s something you agree with and would like to do, there are generations to come that will thank you for it. Not one of your battles whether internal, in the jungle or on a hill will be in vain. Your stories also give a voice to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice; for those who didn’t get any ‘Welcome Home.’
I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to each of you. To ALL veterans who walked the walk when others ran. The phrases “Thank you for your service,” & “I support our troops” have become trite, overused sentiments and bumper sticker mottos, at best. So, I pledge to you, my part in this:
To be a productive and grateful citizen of our wonderful country. To be vigilant and watchful for any harm that comes to our people or shores, and to stand with you and all veterans, shoulder to shoulder in matters of principle based on the foundation of this great nation. This is my promise to you.
I’m forever in your debt; you’re forever in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you.
If you’re interested in taking a quick and painless survey about your service in Vietnam, I have a questionnaire set up specifically for you. You can link to it here. All answers and information is confidential and I will not share any information, personal or not with anyone. Thank you for your participation.