No less than Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Memorial Wall is a sacred place. Like many veterans, virtually every day I think of some of my friends who were killed in Vietnam and are memorialized there. Every day.
Next week I will participate in the reading of the names of the fallen who are memorialized on the Vietnam Wall. Starting on Monday, Nov. 7, and going until midnight each day, it will take three and a half days to read all 58,281 names on the wall. For those of us participating, it is part of our promise never to forget and always to honor the lives of our friends and comrades who gave their all in the service of the nation.
People now forget, never knew, or choose to lie about it, but aside from family, friends, and the military, the country did not truly mourn their deaths. Neither individually nor as a group were they accorded the honor, the respect, or the sorrow — whether ersatz or real — of the sort now heaped upon drug-addled criminals killed by police.
Since then, a few of those who slandered them have apologized. But very few. Others have tried to pretend that they opposed the government but “supported the troops” all along. To put it politely, balderdash.
We remember you. Not to remember would be to betray our comrades whose names are carved on the wall. We remember that privileged college students, faculty, the left, and much of the Democrat Party supported the killing of our soldiers.
They now pretend otherwise. But in their classrooms, at their “anti-war” rallies, and on their TV networks, they lauded our enemies. They waved the flags of our enemies who were trying to kill us, and who did kill those memorialized on the wall. That flag-waving was intended to encourage our enemies in their bloody work. It was not just the fringe who did this. It included those who from 1992 have controlled the levers of power in the Democrat Party.
For these leftists, many of whom still wield power today, those of us fighting because the country sent us there were “baby killers,” murderers, and rapists. Consider, for example, the words of our current “climate czar” in the speech that launched his political career, describing those who fought in Vietnam.
John Kerry says these American soldiers had “personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.”
According to Kerry, these were “not isolated incidents but were crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command.” “All levels of command”: from lieutenants leading platoons to generals commanding divisions, all were reprehensible criminals, you see.
Kerry, we do remember the lies by you and your ilk. By honoring our fallen brothers next week, we reject your calumny and slander of them. We would not honor murderers, torturers, and rapists by reading their names in this solemn ceremony.
Here is one of the fallen, Leonard Reza.
Sgt. Reza was a proud paratrooper in the 101st Airborne. He was a member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the outfit made famous by the “Band of Brothers” book and series. He had been a star in his high school class in California, where he had been editor of the school newspaper.
Reza was 20 years old when he was killed by small arms fire in Thua Thien Province, Vietnam. He was not a murderer, a sadistic killer, or a rapist. On the day he died — April 22, 1971 — Kerry was smearing him and his buddies in front of the U.S. Senate. Next week the country will honor him.
Like Leonard Reza, most of the Vietnam fallen never lived long enough to take a bride and hold their newborn baby, to see their children grow up, to see their sons and daughters on the ballfield or walking across a graduation stage. Read about them. Honor them.
If you live near D.C., consider a visit to the wall next week to witness the reading and to honor our KIAs. Some reading slots are still available for those who are interested. You can sign up here.
If you cannot attend, then consider at least visiting one of the electronic memorial walls, such as the Wall of Faces or The Virtual Wall. Do a search and read about the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who gave their all at the command of this country. And never forget.