[sixties-l] Vet joins others in helping to undo the damage of war

From: radtimes (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Aug 06 2001 - 16:43:31 EDT

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    Returning to Vietnam


    Vet joins others in helping to undo the damage of war

    by Suel Jones
    July 26 - August 1, 2001 / Vol. 10, Ed. 30

    In 1968 I went to Vietnam as a proud, young Marine who trusted his country
    to tell the truth and believed Americans had the duty as free men to help
    others fight for freedom. Yet upon return from the war, I started
    questioning my involvement.
    After thirty years of research and soul searching, I now know that my only
    fault was in trusting my country, which placed my fellow warriors and me in
    grave danger and ordered the killing of more than three million people.
    Now I find I want to complete what I started, and that is to help the
    Vietnamese people. I have returned to Vietnam for the past three years
    through my involvement in the Vietnam Friendship Village Project. This is
    an organization of vets working with vets to cultivate peace and
    One of our major goals is to improve the lives of children and Vietnamese
    veterans affected by Agent Orange.
    I plan on returning to Vietnam this fall to live for a year. But first I
    have things to do here. Most importantly,
    informing people of the facts that led up to the Vietnam War.
    On June 18, 1919 as World War I ended, Ho Chi Minh petitioned the U.S.
    asking for help in its efforts for
    self-determination. Their petition was ignored, leaving them under the
    control of France.
    Again, this time after World War II, Ho Chi Minh petitioned for U.S. help
    in keeping the French from returning to Vietnam, thus allowing Vietnamese
    self-rule for the first time since 1850. Rather than heeding the call for
    help, the U.S. supplied the French with six surplus troop ships and weapons
    while footing 80 percent of the cost, again allowing the French to return
    to power in Vietnam. They remained in control through brute force and
    intimidation until 1954, when they were defeated at Dien Bien Phu.
    The U.S. then signed the July 21, 1954 Geneva Conference Final Declaration
    which permitted "Vietnam,
    Cambodia and Laos henceforth to play their part, in full independence and
    sovereignty, in the peaceful community of nations."
    But after John F. Kennedy came into office in January 1961, Major General
    Lansdale reported from Vietnam that the Diem regime was about to fail.
    Kennedy increased the number of U.S. advisors in violation of the 1954
    Ignoring the fact the U.S. had no support in Vietnam was the fatal flaw in
    our plan to free the people. Free them from whom? Themselves? Without the
    people's support, the Viet Cong, and later, the North Vietnamese Army could
    have never defeated the U.S. war machine. In order to isolate the Viet Cong
    we had to turn our bombs, napalm and eventually our own men against the
    very people we were fighting to free.
    The famous saying "We had to destroy the village to save it," is exactly
    what happened in Vietnam. We dropped more tonnage of bombs on a country
    about the size of California than were used by all sides in WWII; one
    thousand pounds of high explosives for every man, woman and child.
    We sprayed some twenty million gallons of defoliant, more than fifteen
    million gallons being the highly toxic Agent Orange, on their forest and
    crops leaving a legacy of birth defects that still cripples thousands today.
    Richard M. Nixon made a written pledge of $5.75 billion in aid to Vietnam
    as part of the Agreement on Ending
    the War and Restoring Peace in Vietnam, signed in Paris Jan. 27, 1973.
    The U.S. agreed that, "the Government of the United States of America will
    contribute to postwar reconstruction in North Vietnam without political
    Not one penny has ever been paid.
    The U.S. government denied this paper even existed until May 19, 1977 when
    it was declassified then released to Congress and the media under the
    threat of subpoena of former President Nixon.
    Every person who supported the war is guilty of these senseless killings.
    Every president from Truman to Nixon to W. Bush, every Congressman and
    Senator is guilty. Every preacher who stood on the pulpit and supported the
    war is guilty. Every mother and father who sent their sons are guilty. This
    is a terrible truth, but until we accept it we will never put Vietnam
    behind us. Rather, we continue having wars to prove that "Vietnam is behind
    The U.S. spends millions annually searching for the remains of U.S. service
    men, but we have not spent one cent in helping the Vietnamese find their
    300,000 missing service men. It is well past time we recognize the
    Vietnamese as people and not as an enemy, then open our hearts and
    pocketbooks to them.
    The Vietnam War, known in Vietnam as the American War, will never be behind
    us until we as a nation accept our responsibility for every act. A moral
    country does not walk away leaving a people destitute and suffering.
    We must help them search for their 300,000 MIAs, remove landmines and clean
    toxic hot spots we left behind.
    And we must do this with no political agenda, simply helping because it's
    the right thing to do.

    Fundraiser for the victims of Agent Orange

    Side Street Espresso presents a benefit concert Thursday, July 26 for in
    support of the Vietnam Friendship
    Village, a project helping those who suffer from the effects of Agent Orange.
    Tom Begich and Friends will be playing with help from Terry Kelly, Michael
    Barber and Chris Watkins.
    Complimentary refreshments will be served from 6-7 p.m., with music
    following. There will also be a silent auction of clothing and artifacts
    made by the hill people of Vietnam.
    Project coordinator Suel Jones says he hopes to raise $50,000 through
    various fundraising events before departing for a year in Vietnam later
    this year.
    Donations will be accepted at the door. For more information call 258-9055
    or 745-8864. Side Street Espresso
    is located at 412 G street.

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