Dear President Obama,
In your inaugural address you said, "For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn"
Mr. President, beg to correct. They did not die for us, or anyone else, while they were killing Vietnamese in Khe Sahn, Vietnam! They were shaming us and their country. And afterwards, most veterans were angry for having been deceived.
You will remember, when, during the Democratic debates, your elder, Senator Gravel, stated emphatically, "Our soldiers in Vietnam died in vain, and today they are dying in in vain in Iraq."
Martin Luther King Jr. was surely assassinated for condemning the Vietnam War as a long atrocity within a murderous foreign policy all around the world. So testified a young John Kerry, and Muhammad Ali gave up his title to do the right thing refusing to go.
Mr. President, if America is to change in the future, don't Americans have to be honest about their past. As President-elect, you praised an appointee for having "served his country in Vietnam"? Mr. President, three million Vietnamese died in their own country, many killed in their very own homes. Why praise participation in that imperialist war on an innocent colonial people that had looked up their American ally against the Japanese?
Yours truly, was during eight years in the 1990s, Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and on tour - playing all four Brahms symphonies, and Beethoven, Prokovieff, Shostakovitch, Haydn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, both Chopin concertos with the only Asian winner of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, Dan Tai-son, who practiced for it in a Hanoi bomb shelter.
Every musician in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans,"they would answer simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance.
The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh, and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera, where in 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent.
Next October, the New York Philharmonic will perform in this Hanoi concert hall.
Mr. President, what kind of a message were you sending to the Vietnamese in your mentioning the dying in Vietnam was for America? You know we dropped double the tonnage of all the bombs dropped in World War Two on them.
The President did not say they died for us in Fujulla, Iraq, because candidate Obama bravely spoke out against that horrible war ordered by Bush and supported by Senator Clinton.
Would like to hope that calling attention to Khe Sahn, Vietnam in the President's speech was an oversight, but this praise of the Vietnam war comes right after his silence at the slaughter of the six hundred children of Gaza by American made bombs and planes.
Would that the president could make use of the continuing support of Veterans For Peace. There is a lot of apprehension of your possibly continuing a belligerent foreign policy due to the record of various cabinet members.
We will see a change in the government's bloody foreign policies, when enough citizens feel properly guilty for their nation's crimes against humanity, put themselves in shoes of the bereaved families of Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Iraqis and Afghanis, Panamanians. Could we even imagine such bombings upon US towns and countryside? We can improve the whole world and ourselves with such imagination, or at least take serious their individual portion of the collective accountability, responsibility for the actions of their government in its unlawful use of America's military power in their name.
That is what we enshrined in the Nuremberg trials. We held Germans responsible and the Germans benefited greatly from accepting responsibility
Appreciative of your promises, and expecting your help,
At your service - faithfully,
jay janson, Veterans For Peace