- The Washington Times - Monday, December 6, 2010


Since the Nov. 11 article by James S. Robbins (“Vietnam vets betrayed again,” Commentary), hope built among Vietnam veterans that the United States was going to do the right thing at last - treat them as they have veterans of America’s previous wars. It remains to be seen if Michael Rhodes, director of administration and management at the Pentagon, and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates are listening to their pleas. I suspect that they are not.

Is there not one single warrior in the Pentagon with the guts to call them out? Is there not one congressman or senator who will demand that the commemoration have a leader who cares - and knows - about the Vietnam War veterans? Is there not an administration official that will challenge the wisdom of waiting another three or four years to honor these honorable soldiers?

If, as some say, the commemoration is to honor the veterans, not the war, can someone explain how waiting until most of them have passed away serves that purpose? There were a plethora of events that could be called “the beginning of the Vietnam War.” Our soldiers began dying there in the 1950s. President Kennedy committed troops there in 1963. The argument that the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964 was the trigger is weak, since only the totally biased and uninformed think that we sent troops to Southeast Asia because the communists fired a few torpedoes at U.S. Navy ships at sea. The commemoration needs a leader who understands the war and the myths surrounding it.

Why do I suspect the worst with regard to Mr. Rhodes and his vision or lack thereof? There has been absolutely no information coming from his office or the Pentagon about what will happen next with this issue. Why? If Mr. Rhodes is too busy to give comfort to the veterans who have now been alerted to the potentially sham celebration, he surely won’t have time to run a commemoration.

The commemoration needs an advisory board of Vietnam veterans. It needs an executive director who enthusiastically supports the mission and the events. Without those two elements, the budget and timing are immaterial. Vietnam veterans deserve both.


Seattle, Wash.

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