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Kristin Strickland
History 370
Book Essay
March 21, 2013
Letters from Vietnam I found that trying to find a book to read about the Vietnam War was rather difficult because there are so many of them out there. I chose Letters from Vietnam edited by Bill Adler because it was a point of view from many soldiers in the war and they were what they were truly feeling at the time. It is not one point of view when you read this many letters and a little background on each of the authors, but there are many points of views, feelings and emotions to help us better understand what they were going through emotionally and physically while overseas. When I first opened the book to the introduction section I was not sure what I was going to find because a lot of times they filter what is out there for us to read or stick to one scheme. This book has went any should us how many of the people felt and under different schemes. I know that Dr. Lofthus always says, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, while in class but reading someone else’s words is worth much more and when done correctly you can feel what they were feeling when they wrote them. One of the first letters that I read that really stuck out and made me understand that they had to define things to their families and explain what some terms and other things were that maybe they were hearing from the news stations, was a letter written by First Lieutenant James Michener. He wrote the letter in the book while he was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam from 1966-1967. The letter was dated November 17, 1966 from Tuy Hoa, Vietnam and he starts by explaining the reason that he hasn’t written in a while is because he was away from his base for over a week. He goes on to say, “We were there to furnish air support to units of the IV (Fourth) Infantry Division (“Ivy Division”) and the 101st Airborne Division (“Screaming Eagles”). These units were making a general sweep of an area about one hundred miles square. They were looking for Victor Charlie (“VC”) - that’s what we call him.” While First Lieutenant Michener was writing letters to his family he explained many things about what he was seeing to having his helicopter hit with a bullet. You could tell from his letters that he was fighting for what he believes in. In the chapter titled “Reflection”, Sgt. David Glading writes a letter home to his girlfriend. He goes on to write, “It’s a beautiful night, moons out, stars, and no clouds, ya don’t even need a flashlight. I had just finished reading the paper and found a poem, so I’m sending it along. You know, you hear and read about all the things that go on over here, but don’t really understand or believe them until you see it. I’ve seen old men beat women, girls, little boy, and young men, I’ve seen the dead and wounded, and I’ve seen little children cry when their fathers are taken away.” I could not imagine writing a letter like that back home to a loved one. It would be hard to tell them the things that I have seen or how I was feeling. I would want to lie so that they thought I was ok and that everything was fine, but many of these letters if not all can be read and not give families the reassurance that they need. I want to end by saying that I received many letters and emails from my husband while he was in Iraq. He never once let on if anything was wrong. He always asked about our kids or how I was doing. He would tell me when he wanted a new picture or socks, but he never let on as to what he saw until after he was home. He would always reassure me that things were fine when the news would say something else, or when one of our aircraft from the base crashed he would call and tell me he was fine. I am not sure how I would handle a letter like these if they were sent to me. I did not live through that era, but I am sure that it helped them get the things off their chests and out of their minds so that they could continue what they were doing and not have all that accumulated inside. It is good to get it out and now we have all of these wonderful letters to give us an idea and understanding of what they all faced during the Vietnam Era.

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