Spinning The Record – Winter 2015
From 1964 to 1973, some 3.4 million GIs served in the war in Southeast Asia. Throughout those ten years, and in the decades that followed, the American people were affected in different ways and to different extents. Fortunately for me, my brothers were too young to serve and my father too old, so my family was spared the wounds—both seen and unseen—that others bore.
War demands a heavy sacrifice from those who fight them. Forty-plus years after the last American troops came home, we are still learning of the extent to which our Vietnam veterans were affected—from PTSD and Agent Orange-induced diseases to drug addiction and homelessness.
In putting this issue together, the assistant editor, Jacque Day, and I had the privilege of talking with NU alumni, faculty, and staff who served in Vietnam, as well as their spouses and family members. Although their stories are different, a common thread unites them: Being able to share their wartime experiences with an interested and compassionate audience assists the healing process.
Many of you reading this have relatives who served in Vietnam. My hope is that, after reading this issue, you will be inspired to start a conversation with them that they may have wanted to have for years, but didn’t quite know how to begin. That generation is not getting any younger, so I would encourage you to act sooner rather than later. Additionally, if they haven’t been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in a while, this might be good time to see it with them. Many a conversation—along with much emotional release and healing—has taken place there.
In closing, I would like to thank the many people who so generously shared their stories, letters, and photographs with Jacque and me. We wished we could have published them all.
If you are interested in having your Vietnam experience preserved for posterity, the Norwich University Archives invites you to donate audiotapes, letters, journals, and photographs—whether originals or copies—to their permanent collections. These primary source materials are invaluable to future scholarly research. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 802-485-2947 for more information.
I dedicate this issue to the more than 800 Norwich alumni who served in Southeast Asia. You will know what I mean when I say “You’re a ‘Number 1’ with us!”
For the Record,
Diana L. Weggler