To the editor:
I want to give my appreciation to Tom Eastman for his article in Saturday’s edition of the Sun on “The Healing Wall.”
On Wednesday I attended a Veteran’s Coffee at the Gibson senior center in North Conway. A safe and informative resource for veterans. Kudos to Karen and Jim Umberger and Jill Reynolds, program director at the GSC, for organizing this ongoing event.
I spoke with Eastman at the Gibson Center and later that day in Conway at the American Legion where the wall was being installed.
Vietnam was the defining issue for my generation. Apollo 11, Woodstock, my marriage, all those wondrous and joyous events were subsumed by that war.
At the legion, a cheer went up following the fitting of the last panel. I was reminded of the cheer that erupted in the DC-8 when I left Vietnam. I thought, “I made it, I’m going home.” Little did I realize that the journey was just beginning. It’s taken me decades to get home.
Eastman referred to my “winning” a Bronze Star medal in Vietnam. I’d like to correct the wordage. I was awarded a Bronze Star.
There are no winners in war. Ask anyone who’s been there. Winning implies that I competed for the award. The only competition in war is the fight to stay alive. The award for that is life. Let me assure you, there is no greater award.
There is no criticism of Eastman here, nor a suggestion that he is insensitive to this subject. His brother Dave Eastman’s service makes him well aware.
My gratitude to all who have and will serve, the volunteers who got the wall assembled and to those of you who took the time to pay your respects to the 58,000 who never will make it home.