#6 Answer to NY Times Op-Ed piece

Subject: "McCain Eases The Stigma Of Vietnam", Haberman, 29 Feb 2000,NYTimes

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2001 00:26:10

To The Editor: I have just read the aforementioned article and wonder how this stigma has come to be placed upon the Viet Nam veteran and who has deemed himself fit to bestow it. I am one of those veterans, an infantryman or 'grunt', who was placed in an untenable position by my nation's leadership. I feel no stigma nor shame, nor do I feel the need for a public affirmation of my service. My conscience is clear. I served honorably.

Yet, there is a stigma attached to our nation's long involvement with Viet Nam. But the mark is missed when we attach it to an individual or to a group. Rather, the stain is on our national consciousness. And so it shall remain, personified by the malaise and cynicism exhibited by the American public when they are confronted with the political process. Sen. McCain's war record will not erase that mark on our collective soul. What we need is a leader with the personal strength and political courage to offer our nation a frank and truthful explanation of those dark days. All the memories have been written. All the documents are available. Where and when will we find the 'stand-up' leader to put things aright?

A debt of honor is owed to the American people, to the Vietnamese people and, most of all, to the unwitting GI.


William J. Kelly Jr.