From: email@example.com (Robert Weiss)
"They danced while we died and that will never be forgotten or forgiven by me."
To: "Richard Geib" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Hanoi Jane
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 08:56:08 -0600
I read your page with interest and, as usual, was taken back to scenes of memorial services, of throwing wreaths into the sea, of consoling widows of departed shipmates and, mostly memories of the revulsion for military members held by a great portion of the US. Wives received hate calls while their husbands were in the war zone. White paint was thrown on departing warships. These scenes and incidents I can never forget.
Those persons who provided support to the enemy through thought and deed are guilty of not only prolonging the war but also of causing a rift in the American populace which is only now beginning to heal. Young and stupid is not an excuse, neither is it grounds for mitigation. They danced while we died and that will never be forgotten or forgiven by me.
I was very much touched by your e-mail. Fonda will never live down her boneheaded trip to North Vietnam, and neither will history judge with anything but disgust individuals who called returning U.S. soldiers "baby killers" or harassed veterans or their families. I was barely born at the time of those events, but in hearing about them years later it makes me want to knock someone on their butt! I agree with you that ultimately being "young and stupid" is not an excuse; let history look at someone spitting on a returning Vietnam veteran and make the inevitable judgments.
My father, upon returning from Vietnam, lost a number of "friends" who simply wanted to have nothing to do with him anymore because of his service in the army. That is almost inexcusable. Yet it seems that was all part of the unfortunate extremism of the times. My father was recently married when he was ordered to Vietnam as a soldier. He disliked intensely having to go, but he did go as ordered and spent a year there living in squalor and danger. He deserves to be honored for such service, and I go out of my way to toast him on Veteran's Day every year. I salute you in the same way - years after the fact.
But look at Fonda's much belated apology, Robert. It is not my place to urge you to "forgive or forget." But I hope you do not nurse hatred and resentment and thereby convert it into an indulgence. I wonder if that kind of anger won't eat you up inside.
I hope this e-mail finds you well.
Very Truly Yours,