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: email@example.com 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.
The academic year 1969-70 saw a wave of bombings and arson: nearly 250 bombings (causing 6 deaths) and 247 cases of arson, including a $320,00 fire at a UC Berkeley library.
Secret peace talks between Henry Kissinger and Lê Đức Thọ begin in Paris. US and ARVN (South Vietnamese) troops invade Cambodia sparking widespread protests in the US. 1970 is a year of complicated diplomatic maneuvering among all parties to the conflict.
January – Committee of Liaison, chaired by antiwar activists Dave Dellinger and Cora Weiss, is established as an intermediary between American POWs held in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and their families. Its goal was ”to facilitate communicate communication between American servicemen held in North Vietnam and their families” and to “try to find out if your relative is a prisoner in North Vietnam.” By midsummer, a confirmed list of 335 POWs would be established along with a flow of correspondence. A Citizens Committee of inquiry on U.S. War Crimes in Vietnam (CCI) is established to conduct a series of hearings in 14 cities.
January-May 26 – Operation Menu – the code name for a secret bombing of Laos and Cambodia by the U.S. Strategic Air Command continues (See entries for March 18 and May 31 in 1969 chronology).
January 5 – Eighty GIs join GIs for Peace to picket General Westmoreland at Fort Bliss, Texas.
January 15-20 Gallup poll 57% of Americans see Vietnam war as a mistake, but another January poll shows 65% approving of Nixon’s handling of the war.
January 21 – The Shelter Half, ASU (American Serviceman’s Union), SDS, and other antiwar activists hold a “Trial of the Army” at the University of Washington’s HUB ballroom to put the Army, not the Shelter Half, on trial for genocide.
January 22 – In his State of the Union speech, Nixon announces that the end of the war in Vietnam is a major goal of U.S. policy. Though peace talks have reached an impasse, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces that Vietnamization is working and that there will be further troop withdrawals.
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.”