Letters to the Editor

Vietnam – the recurring dream

Vietnam is the vacuum that sucks in 365 days, visual snapshots of good and bad days, and replays itself every year. I dream that I am going back – after 40 years. But I am not concerned because I am going back to the same unit, and I know what to expect. If I get caught in a conversation about Vietnam, I usually dream about it that night.

Alan Miller’s article is different (“Haunted by the nightmare of Vietnam”; Forum, April 26). It is a carefully designed montage of history, quotes from famous people and observations about Vietnam and Iraq. Miller’s writing style is pleasing to read and deadly accurate. He reminded us that April 30 is the 40th anniversary of the pullout of American troops from Vietnam. But it never goes away. Like the young soldier in the movie “Platoon” ponders how it pulls at him, the good and the bad, “for all of my days.” Like some Shakespearean play, it never washes clean. We will never again be whole.

As we mark the years since we were there, we forget and go on with our lives, but then an article, a mention on the news, another poorly planned war will draw us back to 365 days where we repaired tanks, worked in an office or pounded the dirt with muddy boots. And we think of our brothers, the real heroes, whose names are arranged on a black wall in Washington, D.C.

Donn Miller, Sacramento

Right about lessons of Vietnam

Alan Miller’s piece on the anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam is a good summary of why that war was an avoidable catastrophe. His cautions, along with so many others, go largely unheeded by those who would send our forces into combat more as a first resort than as a last.

Iraq and Afghanistan have many parallels to Vietnam, first and foremost our inability to distinguish wars of choice from wars of necessity. World powers that historically squander their wealth and blood on needless foreign entanglements do not long retain their ascendancy.

Dennis Franklin Coupe, Granite Bay

Vietnam – the heartache

I almost skipped past Alan Miller’s story until I glanced at the body count. I was compelled to revisit that tragic era. More than 58,000 dead, not to mention those gravely wounded, physically and mentally. It still angers me, and it still turns my stomach.

I remember at the run-up to the war in Iraq thinking, “Oh, God, not again.”

Thanks to Miller and former Sen. James Webb for reminding us of the immoral, criminal, impeachable decision to send young men off to a war they knew was hopeless.

Dave Walker, Sacramento