Recognitionfor the veterans who fought and won the war is still MIA –By Phillip Jennings – Tuesday, May 8, 2012
OnMarch 29, commander in chief of the armed forces (and President) Obama signed apresidential proclamation designating March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day. I found out by accident and have yetto talk to a Vietnam vet since that date was aware of the honor bestowed upon him. Even the 50th Anniversary of theVietnam War Commemoration website (the commemoration commission has beenfunctioning at least two years) failed to carry the proclamation.
Itmay be that National Dill Pickle Day or Take Your Hamster to Work Day knockedthe news off the front page and left no precious time on national newsstations. For the record, the Vietnam War was fought about four decades ago;hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese were casualties;and many considered the war somewhat controversial. (Yes, this is sarcasm.)
Anumber of states also have proclaimed a Vietnam Veterans Day – some March 29, some March 30, someseemingly picked randomly, perhaps adjusted to fit holiday weekend preferences.Actually, the end of the war is marked and historically noted, but proclaimingit publicly could take the president (or others of the liberal persuasion) intoan uncomfortable area. American combat involvement in the Vietnam War began in1962 and ended in March 1973 with an overwhelming defeat of the communistforces, a peace treaty, the return of U.S. and Allied prisoners, theuneventful evacuation of all U.S.combat troops, and a duly elected government of South Vietnam in place. But theuncomfortable part has to be faced: The Democrat-led U.S. Congress pulled the plug on our allies, cut thepromised financial and military aid, abrogated the peace treaty and abandoned17 million South Vietnamese to a communist orgy of revenge after the Northinvaded the South and overran the South Vietnamese army. (Although South had no major support by this time, the Northern invaders were rearmed andsupported by the Chinese and the Russians.) Not a happy story for a Democraticpresident, perhaps particularly the current one, to tell.
Itmay be that President Obama honestly and sincerely meant to say thanks to the Vietnamveteran. But a nagging point hovers like a hornet – the question as to whetherthe obviously untrumpeted proclamation has anythingto do with friends of the president and, in particular, his early mentor andsometimes adviser Bill Ayers. Let me include the Ayers Wikipedia entry so Iwon’t be accused of trying to make his biography sound even moreanti-American than it is:
“William Charles ‘Bill’ Ayers (born December 26, 1944) is an Americanelementary education theorist and a former leader in the movement that opposed U.S.involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s activism as well ashis current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969, heco-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communistrevolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildingsduring the 1960s and 1970s, in response to U.S. involvement in the VietnamWar.”
Mr.Ayers, by the way, most recently was seen angrily protesting the fact thatuniformed U.S.soldiers were allowed early boarding on the same airline flight that he wasboarding. As I have never met him, I cannot say whether he is a despicablehuman being.
Myfear is that Mr. Ayers might have filled his young protege’snoggin with the most radical and horrific myths that have been perpetratedabout the war these past 40 or 50 years. That might prevent the president fromtruly commemorating the Vietnam War veteran by simply speaking the truth aboutthe war – it was a noble cause fought and wonagainst a treacherous communist regime but was then thrown away. Vets I knowcare nothing about a parade or even a thanks. Those who matter thanked most ofus long ago. We want the truth known.
Which brings us to the Commission for the 50th Commemoration ofthe Vietnam War. I admire those laboring on the commission. I thank them for theirefforts. They are good and honorable men and women. They have and seeminglywill accomplish little if anything that truly addresses and honors the veteransof the Vietnam War. Isn’t it fair to ask why? Why after two years ofexistence is there no plan, no advisory board, no statement, no decent website,no activities announced – nothing? Given little evidence to the contrary, mybelief is that there is a connection between a lukewarm (at best) proclamationand a stuck-in-the-mud commission, one run by the Pentagon. My suspicions arebroad-based, but an example might illuminate.
In2011, the commission was contacted by a vice president of an organizationpurporting to represent Vietnamnews correspondents. Its demand was that the commissionremove from the website a quote from Richard Nixon to the effect thatthe Vietnam War had been misreported and misremembered. Without hesitation, thecommission deleted the quote – a quote that was accurate from the president whoactually brought the Vietnam War to a close. From the vet’s point ofview, the commission retreated without protest from the one illuminatingstatement on the website. The Vietnam War we fought and won was misreported(the evidence is legion) and misremembered (check the college history books).
Thenation asked much from its young men during the Vietnam War. The Army respondedbrilliantly over the life of the war. It seems a small thing to ask the nationto drop “controversial” as a qualifier, to ignore“quagmire” as a description and to clearly define the history ofthe U.S.armed forces as a victory. All U.S.wars have been “controversial” to a degree. There certainly wereplenty of objections to the Civil War. World War I – an unmitigated disasterexcept that the Germans surrendered. World War II – the“good war,” even though the good folks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might disagree. Korea? Stop atthe ? Fire MacArthur?Did we win? (South Koreais free and flourishing.) The ambiguity connected to Vietnamis the result of cowardly politicians and a rebellious youth movement, reportedand supported by liberal journalists who put their own opinions above those ofthe people, the government and certainly the citizens of South Vietnam.
Thecommemoration the Vietnam veterans deserve is true recognition of theiraccomplishment – the most significant combat victory in the Cold War.
Phillip Jennings was a Marine Corps captain in Vietnam.He is author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the VietnamWar” (Regnery, 2010).