PLEASE WRITE A LETTER TO THE VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL (THE WALL)
When then-president Barack Obama announced his government was willing to spend $63 million on a series of commemorations of the American War in Viet Nam stretching over a decade, we in Veterans For Peace knew we had to respond. We built a website vietnamfulldisclosure.org to counter the Pentagon’s own website that supposedly chronicles how that war unfolded. We knew that their story would leave many of our stories out. We wanted more.
For example, if you go to our site you’ll find a detailed timeline capturing the many ways that soldiers resisted that war in and out of uniform. You’ll find plenty of narratives from soldiers and war resisters that do not flinch from the truth nor equivocate on the immorality of that war. We will continue to give our accounts — and yours — so that younger generations can get the whole picture, the full disclosure.
Part of our efforts includes a letter writing campaign. Over the past four years we have collected and delivered, on Memorial Day, 400 letters written to The Wall. We print the letters out and then put them into envelopes marked “Please Read Me.” At 10:30 am on Memorial Day we descend into The Wall in Washington, DC to solemnly place these letters where they belong at the feet of the names on that memorial. They are read by visitors to The Wall throughout the weekend and then are placed into the National Parks Archives. We take this ceremony very seriously. It is not a political gimmick. It is an act of reverence. If you’re interested in what these letters say, we have collected them into two volumes (Letters To The Wall) that can be purchased through LuLu.com .
Since 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the upsurge of resistance against the war in the ranks and on the streets of America, we are extending a special invitation to those who resisted and their loved ones who bore witness to their courage. Please write a letter to The Wall. Please join those who were impacted by the war, from soldiers to mothers and fathers to children and grandchildren to peace activists, as we write to those who died a half a century ago. Let them know that we have not forgotten them.
If you’re so moved, please send your letter to me, Doug Rawlings, at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org I promise you that we will deliver your words on May 27, 2019 to The Wall in Washington, DC. No matter how you lived out those days, your story needs to be told. It is through your words that history will reveal itself to all generations. Please join us.
Toward an honest commemoration of the American War in Vietnam
The Full Disclosure campaign is a Veterans For Peace effort to speak truth to power and keep alive the antiwar perspective on the American war in Viet Nam — which is being commemorated during this decade with a series of 50th anniversary events. Full Disclosure represents a clear alternative to the Pentagon’s current efforts to sanitize and mythologize that war, and to thereby legitimize further unnecessary and destructive wars.
September 2 Ho Chi Minh dies of a heart attack at age 79. He is succeeded by Lê Duẩn, who publicly reads part of the last will of Ho Chi Minh urging the North Vietnamese to fight on “until the last Yankee has gone.”
September 5 The U.S. Army brings murder charges against Lt. William Calley concerning the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai on March 16,1968.
Fort Knox coffee house is closed by police and the landlord refuses rent on advice of county attorney.
September 12 MPs raid a church in Honolulu, Hawai’i, capturing 12 of 23 anti-war GIs who have taken sanctuary there for 38 days. The other GIs escape.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., the Pentagon issues “Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces.”
September 14 Several hundred prisoners at California’s Camp Pendleton brig break out of their barracks, setting fires and leaving the prison in shambles before being suppressed by MPs wielding tear gas.
September 16 President Nixon orders the withdrawal of 35,000 soldiers from VietNam and a reduction in draft calls.
September 25 Senator Charles Goodell (R-NY) proposes legislation requiring the withdrawal of U.S. troops and barring use of Congressional funds for maintaining U.S. military personnel by the end of 1970.
2016 National Book Award Finalist, Viet Thanh Nguyen:
“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory . . . . Memory is haunted, not just by ghostly others but by the horrors we have done, seen, and condoned, or by the unspeakable things from which we have profited.”