Letter to Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric

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Dear Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric, 

I caught the end of the show today on MSNBC where Katie is interviewing Tom and the First Black Paratrooper. I am so proud of him and their accomplishments. I want to address the statement at the end where Tom says (roughly quoted because I was not expecting this):::: These men (W.W.II soldiers he means) come home and lived their lives in quiet triumph in the knowledge of what they had done. But then he has to add "not whining and crying about what the government can give them."

Taken with the rest of his commentary and rhetoric on other shows, he makes no mistake, in my view, that he is referring to the VN vets. Maybe I am paranoid but it has made me angry enough to write this. First, I am an VN nurse vet, who like a lot of the women, came home to silence. No recognition. The men came home to a nation that called them baby killers, threw stones at them, spat in their faces and refused to hire them if the knew they were Vets. The W.W.II vet came home to parades and pats on the back by their fellow citizens. People proudly announced my son was in the battle of this and that. People in this country still know nothing about VN. What battles can they name there? What units can the average citizen name? They DO NOT KNOW in many cases that WOMEN Served IN COUNTRY. Not only military but civilian women as well. I mentioned to young women just weeks ago that I had been there and it was stunned silence. She graduated from high school not knowing women had served in VN. And further more, there were provisions made for low cost housing, communities grew up centered around veterans and the GI Bill was first drafted for them in 1944. Yes it was renewed for the Korean Vet and in 1966 for the VN Vet. But do you see what was done for the Veteran of W.W.II. Our country was proud of those men and I will add the Women who served in WW II were also never recognized.

I am sick and tired of a country that sent 58,209 men to die in Viet Nam and still are not proud of their service. What the hell does a generation have to do to win the respect of its country? There were and are the vast majority of VN vets who quietly triumphed in their knowledge that they served an ungrateful nation. They quietly went back to a live with stories untold because no on wanted to here from them. Remarks like Toms indicates the subliminal opinions that many still carry in this country. When your guard is down the truth comes out.

The W.W.II vet and W.W.I and the forgotten Korean vet all deserve our respect but not at the expense of MEN and WOMEN who served in an unpopular war that their generation started. It was the wise old Men of the W.W.II era that got us into that war.

What he calls whining is a group of Vets who have had to fight for every inch of respect and help that other vets, like W.W.II were just handed. No it might seem like whining to you but I think it is your guilty conscious that whines. The only people who can respect the VN vet it seems will be other VN vets.

Mr. Brokaw needs to sell his book. And the stories in it make a nation proud but maybe he ought to lighten up. Go look for the stories like these from the VN vet. They are there too.

Very Sincerely and with much intensity, Thank you,

Nancy A. Lilja, 
(ret.) Capt. Army Nurse Corp, 
3rd. Surgical Hospital, 
Can Tho, Binh Thuy South Viet Nam

Send your own letter to Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric, but don't expect a response.  Nancy is still waiting . . .

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My Vietnam Related Websites:
button Women in Vietnam ~ Read about ALL the women who served . . .
The Irish on the Wall ~ An effort to locate the Irish who died in Vietnam
button Tim O'Brien's Home Page ~ National Book Award Winner and Americal Vet

button Emily's Poetry ~ By a Red Cross Donut Dolly
button Shrapnel in the Heart ~ The most moving book you will read on Vietnam
button All About Vietnam    ~ An annotated bibliography of books about Vietnam for sale thru Amazon Worldwide!
button Battle Dressing ~
button Project Hearts and Minds ~ Help put Viet Nam back together
button Photos from a Holts' Military History Tour ~ My trip to Vietnam, February 1998

My Other Websites:
Maybe Later . . . ~ My Creative Nonfiction
Irish in Korea ~ Irish men and women who gave their lives in the Korean War
Literature of the Korean War ~ Don't let the literature be forgotten
Samuel Pepys ~ One of my favorite authors
Chicago Theatre Z - A ~ This is the best theater town in the country!
Soccer Literature ~ I'm a fan and I read
O'Leary Lantern ~ Fire! Fire! Fire!
Gil Thorp ~ THE Coach (apologies to The General!)
Poetry of the First World War ~ Owen, Hardy and others
Chi-COW-go ~ Cowz plus Commentary (this used to be a cow town)
Graham Fulton, Scottish Poet ~ Charles Manson Auditions for the Monkees

Other Important Websites:
The Truth About Caroline ~ a  really good Young Adult book by my niece, Stacey
M. Lane Grosh
Remember Oklahoma City
The Civil Service and Military will NEVER forget!

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Page last updated July 18, 2007