Vietnam vets deserve real commemoration

by Phillip Jennings – Monday Dec 6,2010

Since the Nov. 11 article by James S. Robbins(“Vietnamvets betrayed again,” Commentary), hope built among Vietnam veterans thatthe UnitedStates was going to do the right thing at last – treat them as they haveveterans of America’s previous wars. It remains to be seen if Michael Rhodes,director of administration and management at the Pentagon, andSecretary of Defense Robert M. Gatesare listening to their pleas. I suspect that they are not.

Is there not one single warriorin the Pentagonwith the guts to call them out? Is there not one congressman or senator whowill demand that the commemoration have a leader who cares – and knows – aboutthe Vietnam War veterans? Is there not an administration official that willchallenge the wisdom of waiting another three or four years to honor thesehonorable soldiers?

If, as some say, thecommemoration is to honor the veterans, not the war, can someone explain howwaiting until most of them have passed away serves that purpose? There were aplethora of events that could be called “the beginning of the VietnamWar.” Our soldiers began dying there in the 1950s. President Kennedy committedtroops there in 1963. The argument that the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964 wasthe trigger is weak, since only the totally biased and uninformed think that wesent troops to Southeast Asia because the communists fired a few torpedoes at U.S. Navyships at sea. The commemoration needs a leader who understands the war and themyths surrounding it.

Why do I suspect the worst withregard to Mr.Rhodes and his vision or lack thereof? There has been absolutely noinformation coming from his office or the Pentagon about whatwill happen next with this issue. Why? If Mr. Rhodes istoo busy to give comfort to the veterans who have now been alerted to thepotentially sham celebration, he surely won’t have time to run a commemoration.

The commemoration needs anadvisory board of Vietnamveterans. It needs an executive director who enthusiastically supports themission and the events. Without those two elements, the budget and timing areimmaterial. Vietnamveterans deserve both.


Seattle, Wash.

Reprint with permission of Mr. Phillip Jennings


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