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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

[haw-info] Vietnam at 50 - A Historians Call To Action

Vietnam at 50 - A Historians Call To Action

 

            In 2008 Congress added a directive, and funding, to the 2008 National Defense Authorization bill commending the Department Of Defense to "authorize the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War…." (Emphasis added).  This action has allowed the Pentagon to utilize over $30 million to rewrite and sanitize the history of the Second Indochina War (the Vietnam War in the US, the American War in Vietnam).

            While the Department of Defense has already been rolling out their version of the Vietnam War for several years, there will be a major honor our veterans roll-out schedule for this Memorial Day, 25 May 2015. We are calling on all historians to actively participate in activities to supplement the Pentagon honor propaganda, and to make Americans aware of the true nature and consequences, in both the United States and in Vietnam, of the Vietnam War, and what the "official" history leaves out (i.e. mass killing and environmental destruction in Vietnam, the antiwar movement, GI resistance, etc.).

            The Department of Defense has established a website at http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/about/ which includes numerous videos, "fact sheets," timelines, and various other resources.  At this point the Department of Defense list 7919 partners engaging in commemorations as envisioned in the original Congressional mandate. The information provided on the government website is very one-sided and paints a distorted picture of the United States involvement in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

            To counter the Department of Defense history and commemoration, Veterans For Peace (VFP) has established a separate website titled Vietnam Full Disclosure (http://www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org/ ) which provides numerous articles and information from academic and nonacademic sources intended to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the United States involvement in Indochina. Under "Education Resources" are numerous resources covering:  Documents and essays, Vietnamese sources, Gulf of Tonkin, Antiwar movement, Legacies of the war, Teaching materials, Visuals, Videos/DVDs, and Further reading (fiction and nonfiction).

The Vietnam Full Disclosure website also contains timelines and histories but without the glorification propagated by the DOD website. The history timelines include ancient history and the French colonial history as well as the buildup of the United States involvement in Vietnam and Indochina.

            A petition generated by Tom Hayden to Lieut. Gen. Claude M. "Mike" Kicklighter (http://tomhayden.com/home/vietnam-peace-commemoration-committee-petition.html) has been signed by hundreds of historians and other academics calling upon the Pentagon to correct many of the omissions and flawed lessons in the official DOD history.

            We, the Steering Committee of HAW, call upon all historians to help counter the glorified propaganda being perpetuated by the Department of Defense Vietnam Commemoration. With the planned roll-out of the Department of Defense official commemoration commencing on Memorial Day we call upon all historians to write op-ed articles, and/or letters to the editor's, to be published on Memorial Day reminding the American people of the true cost of this horrendous war in both human lives and destroyed environment, as well as the actual dollar cost for all countries involved. We cannot afford to allow history to be so distorted that one of the greatest mistakes in United States history is glorified and sold to the American people as patriotism.

            In addition to the resources available on the Vietnam Full Disclosure website, numerous articles and blogs have been posted outlining the many flaws in the government's official website. One such well-written article is Marjorie Cohn's "US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History" which is available at http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26842-us-government-sanitizes-vietnam-war-history# , and has been reproduced on numerous other websites including the Huffington Report and the History News Network.

            In addition to writing op-ed articles on Memorial Day, HAW also encourages college teach-ins, lectures, and other forums be utilized by all historians to remind the American people of the divisiveness and true cost of the United States decades long involvement and war in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia).

            The Steering Committee also recommends participation in the Vietnam: The Power of Protest rally in Washington, D.C. May 1st and 2nd.  For information and registration go to www.lessonsofvietnam.org .

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