This is not the way to remember the Vietnam War

By On September 24, 2018

This is not the way to remember the Vietnam War


The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in May. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

The demise of the proposed underground Vietnam Veterans Memorial education center, as reported in the Sept. 23 Metro article “Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund pulls plug on Mall museum,” was welcome news indeed. This ill-conceived project threatened to gravely diminish the power and impact of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Wall has managed to provide solace and healing for both those who supported and those who opposed the war in Vietnam. It accomplishes this by its very ambiguity. It is not a statement for or against the war, but rather a noble and abstract tribute to the Americans who fought and died in Vietnam.

There is no way a $ 130 million education center could have been ambiguous about the war. It would have divided rather than enhanced the Wall’s healing power. Even worse, its sponsors intended for the education center to be entered first. One can just imagine tourists spending an hour in the center and then hurrying to quickly take in the Wall before going to their next site.

If an education center is necessary to explain America’s wars, then it should encompass all wars, and it should not be located on the Mall, which is a completed work of civic art.

Michael S. McGill, Alexandria

The writer represented the General Services Administration on the National Capital Planning Commission from 2001 to 2010.

In reading the Sept. 23 Metro article on the ending of efforts to create a Vietnam War education center, I was taken aback by the use of “people” in reference to the war dead. The article cited “the 58,000 people who died in the war ,” seemingly ignoring the millions of Vietnamese people who also lost their lives in that war. When I visited Hanoi in 2016, there were several war veterans in our group. Some were apprehensive about being there. As we exited customs, we were greeted by a large sign, “Popeyes, Louisiana Cuisine.” A Starbucks coffee shop was in our hotel. In talking with one of our Vietnamese guides, I asked him what the people of Vietnam thought about American visitors, having lost so many people in the war. He was quick to say the Vietnamese were happy to have us come and visit. There was no problem: “It’s over; we won the war.”

James Klimaski, Silver Spring

Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam

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