The Long Silence of Vietnam Veterans (2)

Yesterday, I described my years of silence about my time in Vietnam and my sense of shame about the war and the way Americans reacted to it.

Though I didn’t know it for decades, I was not alone. Countless other Vietnam vets went through the same travail I did. They, too, were silent. But, as noted in yesterday’s blog, the American public has changed the way it sees Vietnam. Now people want to know what happened. Now we vets speak openly about our war experience. When I do presentations or readings on my time in Vietnam, men who did time in-country hurry to talk to me. We compare notes about where we were and what we did. We share a kinship that others who were not there can’t understand.

But most of the time when I’m with other Vietnam vets, we don’t talk much. There’s a deep understanding among us about what we’ve been through. We each know that the others feel what we feel. A handshake, a look in the eyes . . . it’s enough.

Next month, the circle will close. I’ve been invited to give my presentation about the fall of Saigon to a chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Vienna, Virginia. We will speak publicly to one another about our hurtful memories. And I’ll be at home with my brothers.

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