Congratulations. The Vietnam series was courageous, appropriate, and timely. Your paper will undoubtedly take a lot of heat for bringing up old wounds, but the fact that the country was consistently lied to by the government, the military, and most politicians is particularly applicable to the current Iraq war. Any war is horrible and dehumanizing.
You cannot blame the young men for their actions in such environments, but you can blame the government and military leaders who dishonestly placed them in these situations.
Stretching the excuse of “national security,” government lies have been too common, but hardly ever so obvious and blatant as the Bush Administration promulgated to promote and justify the Iraq invasion. Now all deaths and wounded boys, men, girls, and women in Iraq are the result of government lies claiming that our national security was jeopardized.
Various officials who participated in this misinformation knew better, but stuck to the party line. It is apparent that the lessons of Vietnam have not effectively influenced today's government leaders. Total warfare and military occupation of a foreign land are solutions for simple-minded leaders. Yes, we need to isolate and rid the world of Saddams, but there are more intelligent ways to handle such evil tyrants. The simple-minded prefer action over discussion.
We have already heard the excuses that “we must support our troops” and “we cannot leave Iraq or we lose our credibility.” This is similar to Vietnam quotes designed to silence the opposition. Are we destined to wait years before we get more McNamara-type books like In Retrospect, confessing sins of this administration?
JOSEPH C. GRASSO
The Blade series on Tiger Force, a unit of the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, is an example of the worst type of journalism imaginable.
You could have better served this community if you had researched the atrocities done by the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong during the war. To date, no justice from Vietnamese courts has been forthcoming for the killing of American GIs in POW camps or the brutal treatment of our aviators in places like the Hanoi Hilton. Ask Sen. John McCain about the treatment he received.
In defense of the troops who participated in America's longest war in the 20th century, we served with honor, yet we are periodically confronted with the horrors done by renegade units like Tiger Force.
Allow the men who did these hideous things to live with the memories. If they are never brought to trial, allow history to condemn them. Vietnam veterans deserve better publicity.
I have been a faithful reader of The Blade since 1959. When I read the headline on Sunday, Oct. 19, I decided I did not want to read any more of your left-wing views.
You have a lot of nerve dredging up the past. We finally have a country that is proud of our military and supports our troops. You write a story about things that happened in Vietnam 30 years ago. How does that affect us now? You only want to stir things up about us still being in Iraq. If this story is news, you are certainly slow in reporting it.
I applaud your decision to bring these terrible acts to the public's attention and will continue to follow the series. I hope readers' outrage upon learning of these long-hidden secrets forces the Army to reopen the investigation. Thank you for your excellent work.
MARY L. FLAIG
Pacific Grove, Calif.
The Vietnam story is nothing more than the rehash of an old painful situation. The government did an investigation and could not find a reason to prosecute those involved. Either they could not determine who did these deeds or could not corroborate the claims. What the reasons are we have no idea and it is not for you to judge the men who served in this action. They did what they felt they needed to do to survive.
Did you serve in Vietnam? If not, who are you to judge? That war was unjustified and really for no reason. The men who returned need to be commended to have put up with the irresponsible decisions of our government. They should be praised, not criticized.
The Blade is to be commended for its series “Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths.” It is an important correction to the historical record of the American war against Vietnam, and a step toward understanding and perhaps even justice.
Yet the editors erred in responding to early and anticipated criticism by attempting in one section to distance the paper from the very clear lessons set out elsewhere in the series. It makes no sense to claim that The Blade's investigation of these atrocities has nothing to do with today's conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. when in another section you spell out the lethal consequences of a cover-up by reporting that earlier coverage of the Tiger Force atrocities could have prevented the subsequent My Lai massacre.
We are already hearing not rumors but confirmed reports of brutal treatment of civilians in Iraq - along with reports of an unprecedented number of suicides among active duty service members.
These are the markers of an unjust war, and given what we now know about the conduct of that other unjust war, these events demand the most rigorous investigation possible.
Given, too, what we know now about potential and actual cover-ups, this investigation must be conducted with maximum skepticism toward government denials. The truth about the war in Iraq is there to be reported, if only the press will face up to the challenge.
The inappropriate timing of The Blade series on the Vietnam atrocities is an all-time low. While we have men and women in the military dying daily, The Blade chooses to degrade the war effort with events decades old. So much for the morale of our current combatants!
I find The Blade and anyone associated with this ill-timed project to be beneath contempt.
JOSEPH T. O'LEARY
Upholding principles America stands for
I can only say one thing about Tiger Force as a reader from Canada. Thank you for upholding the principles for which the United States of America has stated that it stands: democracy and the freedom of speech and the ideals that led to the foundation of your country. The rest of the world watches the United States and can only hope that you will stand by your own principles.
By publishing these stories, you are alerting the population of America to the very real potential of injustice and criminal behavior enacted in your name. It's happened before. It can and will happen again, unless a population says to its government “No, it stops here. There must be justice and accountability.”
Please follow through on this series, not only to lay the ghosts of the past to rest but to prevent present and future injustice and wrongdoing.
Are we not all brothers, sisters?
I could not completely finish the entire story, “Buried Secrets - Brutal Truths.”
The tears flowed. My heart feels shattered. Am I so isolated from what happens in this world? Are we not each other's brother and sister?
My God, forgive us.
ROSE MARIE NEMIRE
Autumn View Court