"They answered when called;
Asked for little and got less;
And made us richer for their sacrifice
But poorer in their passing.

In remembering the dead,
We embrace the living.
For we ought to remember
Better than we do."

Vietnam Veterans Monument, Buffalo, NY

by Terry Garlock

Dear fellow Vietnam veterans, families and survivors: For decades our service in the Vietnam war has been stained by disparaging lies about us. Those lies are once again in the news, and this time we should answer with the truth. ON MEMORIAL DAY 2004, PLEASE GATHER IN YOUR CITY AND TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO SERVED AND SURVIVIED, AND PARTICULARLY THOSE WHO DIED IN VIETNAM. INVITE FAMILIES, BE SURE TO INVITE THE PRESS, AND TELL THEM THE TRUTH. TELL THEM WHAT WE REMEMBER.
WE REMEMBER serving our country at a time when doing so was not easy, while others burned their draft card or fled to Canada and while our military was vilified in the media.
WE REMEMBER the Vietnam war as a serious effort to preserve the freedom of a sovereign nation. While the war was bungled by micromanagement from Washington, we did our duty with honor and skill and courage and prevailed in every significant battle.
WE REMEMBER ordinary soldiers taking extraordinary risks tying to keep one another alive.
WE REMEMBER the civilian population sometimes caught in the crossfire of war, but we treated them with kindness, we supported orphanages, we dug wells, we built schools, we gave them medical care, and we handed out what little treats we had to the kids.
WE REMEMBER our brothers who died a violent death doing their duty for their country, their faces frozen forever young in our mind.
WE REMEMBER how the radical anti-war left falsely painted the image of Vietnam veterans as sadistic war criminals, disproportionately prone to drug use, violence and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
WE REMEMBER coming home to insults instead of parades, and we went on with normal lives while wondering if the country had lost it's mind.
WE REMEMBER the betrayal of Jane Fonda in Hanoi, and her radio broadcasts to our troops calling our leaders war criminals and pleading with troops to refuse to obey orders.
WE REMEMBER the slander of the testimony of John Kerry on April 22, 1971 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that seemed to be excerpts from a Hanoi propaganda handbook. Kerry said the US had no business trying to stop the spread of Communism in other parts of the world, that the US military was creating monsters and war criminals, and that rape, torture, murder and mayhem were widespread and common by American servicemen in Vietnam with the full knowledge and consent of the entire chain of command.
WE REMEMBER the silence of good people when these lies were told about us again and again and repeated in the press, ultimately believed as fact and printed in schoolbooks. We believe these good people did not know the truth, and we will not let these lies go unanswered again. On Memorial Day our remembrance SHOULD NOT BE POLITICAL. Vietnam veterans who served with honor are Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals. Please make sure your gathering is neither a political rant against Kerry nor a pro-Bush event. Please make it a non-political wholesome family event that reminds us of the virtues of these young men and women who served well, sacrificed for their country and made us proud of them. Tell the stories about your brothers and sisters. If you don't, who will? If we do this with restraint, maybe at long last the country will know they should be proud of Vietnam veterans.


If you can read this, thank a TEACHER; If you can read it in ENGLISH, thank a VETERAN.