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Letter to the Wall

In honor of all who have suffered from War and Injustice.

I had been in Vietnam for 9 months of my one year tour and finally had taken my one week of R&R.

I was a medic in an artillery unit and also a conscientious objector.

I was standing in the middle of a dance floor in a Club in Sidney Australia. An American soldier I did not know, who was also on leave, walked up to me. He said he had been watching me as I stood there alone. He then told me: “You look like you believe in nothing”. I responded: “You are exactly right”.

Peace,

Frank Toner

Guys,

 

Did you know there’s an organization called Veterans For Peace? And that the year is 2019? Vets For Peace says that 2019 is the 50th. anniversary of an upsurge in military & civilian resistance against the Vietnam War and suggests we mark the occasion by writing to you. I don’t know about the anniversary. My recollection is that ’69 was just as bad and as the war years prior and the war years to come. I do know this much: By 1969, you, Jack, my kinsman born in warm Mississippi, had been dead, KIA, for 2 years. And kinsman Archie, born in the cold Adirondacks, had one more year of life left before being Killed In Action. As for me, at the start of ’69 I was sentenced to four years in prison for refusing to be drafted for the war. Later in the year, when my appeal was lost, I went underground and into exile. I’d be on the run for a long time. Before receiving a Presidential Pardon for my act of draft resistance, I’d lose ten full years to the war. Which is absolutely nothing compared to what Jack & Archie and all the rest of you lost.

 

I have already apologized to Jack and Archie for failing to save them. Today I’ll apologize to all of you. I did try my best to stop the war. The proof is in the police, FBI and court documents. I realize you can’t see those things. The scars on my conscience and soul might be easier for you to see.

 

And my love and prayers for you, too.

 

Steve Trimm
Doug, this may be too “political” but “it is what it is.”

Paz, Will

Letter to the Wall – Memorial Day, 2019

Dear Names of Persons on the Wall, Brothers and Sisters,

As a 76 year-old US Navy Veteran who was on the USS Okinawa which served as a key component of President Kennedy’s naval blockade of Cuba in October of 1962 to prevent the Soviet Union from delivering even more nuclear missiles into Cuba, I vividly recall the tension over this incident which brought the US and the USSR extremely close to a nuclear war.  This is one of the reasons why I joined Veterans for Peace.  One of our goals is to reduce and then eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide.  We are also working to abolish war as an instrument of national policy for all nations.

Let me start by stating that, tragically, your lives were taken from you by politicians such as President Johnson and Defense Secretary McNamara whom we later heard on tape admit that the War on Vietnam could not be “won.”  Thus, many of you died for a lie.  Many of your comrades suffered the wounds of war, some physical, some psychological. Too many, sadly, have committed suicide, many others are homeless while still others battle substance addiction.

When Nixon became President, he escalated the violence, bombing Cambodia and Laos almost “back to the Stone Age.”   Almost 30,000 of you died while Nixon was President and Kissinger was Secretary of State. Both prolonged the War by secretly contacting North Vietnam to cancel the on-going US-North Vietnam Peace Talks, telling Hanoi they promised a “better deal.”   One hopes there are warm places in Hell where both Nixon and Kissinger as well as LBJ and McNamara, reside.

It is 2019, and as I write this, our current president, the 45th, is in Hanoi meeting the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, to discuss the nuclear weapons status of North Korea.  You may not have ever heard or read that when the French colonial rulers during WW II were expelled from Vietnam, they were replaced by the Japanese.  However, when the Allies defeated Germany and Japan, the French were allowed by President Truman to reclaim Vietnam as their former colony.

However, the North Vietnamese nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh, had proclaimed the independence of Vietnam in July of 1945. Yet, as mentioned, the Truman administration convinced Congress to send weapons and money to the French imperialists who were combating the forces of Ho.  Thus, began a new conflict between the brutal French colonialists and the Viet Minh (later, the Viet Cong) who fought to oust the French from Indochina.

At a key battle in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu, the French forces were losing to the North Vietnamese Army.  At this point, VP Nixon suggested to President Eisenhower that utilizing an atomic bomb would help defeat the Vietnamese Army.  Thank goodness, Ike said to “no” to Nixon, yet he continued to send US aid to a puppet government the US created in 1955.

As to the current Commander-in-Chief, President Drumpf, that is his real name from his German immigrant grandfather). So, Donald Trump, whom many call a “fake” president, got deferments (“bone spurs”) so as to avoid possibly being sent to Vietnam.  Ironically, Mr. Drumpf was just in Hanoi as I mentioned previously, meeting the North Korean autocratic ruler. Some years ago, when Mr. Drumpf was on a popular national radio program, he “confessed” that though he didn’t go to Vietnam, he fought his own Vietnam “war” in the U.S. by avoiding becoming infected by STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) in the 60s.  When I first heard this story, I thought of you whose names are on this sacred Wall.  In my opinion, as a citizen, as a veteran and as a human being, I believe Donald Trump is an utter and complete disgrace to the presidency, to the country, and to the citizens of the United States of America.

Here is a poem I want to leave for you and for people who visit the Wall where your names are etched.  The poem was written by a good friend, Dave Connolly, from South Boston.  Dave served honorably in Vietnam with the 11th Armored Cavalry and was severely wounded.

The poem is titled: “Thoughts on a Monsoon Morning” by Dave, a Brother Veteran for Peace.

Cold, despite my blanket.
Lonely amongst my friends.
Wondering, with the things I’ve done,
Can I ever make amends?

Sickened by this needless waste.
Stoic to those around.
Wondering, what will break me:
The next fight, or death, or sound?

Missing those who love me.
Hoping for the next month or so.
Wondering, how will I ever fit in
With people who just don’t know?

Terrified by the death grins.
Afraid I’ll be one of the dead.
Wondering, why did I ever think
It wouldn’t be as bad as they said?

Used by the rich of my country.
Duped by those I looked up to.
Wondering, how can I tell those
Who blindly wave the red, white, and blue?

I hate every fucking one of you
Who make dollars from our deaths.
I hate every fucking one of you
For my friends’ dying breaths.

I hate every fucking one of you
Banker or corporation head.
I hate every fucking one of you
For so many so young and dead.

I hate every fucking one of you
With your pin-striped, dark blue suits.
I hate every fucking one of you
For all those empty boots.

Submitted by Will Thomas
NH Veterans for Peace

 

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