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Opinion

Opinion: The U.S. lost in Vietnam — but it was still a war worth fighting

Vietnam War
A portion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

To the editor: All wars are wrong. Unfortunately some are necessary, including Vietnam. (“Get ready for the next round in the battle over the Vietnam War,” Opinion, Sept. 3)

President Johnson’s administration was not honest or articulate enough to convince the American people that the Cold War must not be lost. Nonaligned nations wanted to see if we would honor our commitment to an ally. We did, in Vietnam and Korea.

The domino theory never came true because the communist countries were spent after those two wars. Millions of soldiers from communist countries died, and all they had to show for it was South Vietnam. Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore were not lost, and no other hot wars occurred before the effective end of worldwide communism in 1991.

Americans who served in Vietnam knew our country was at war and that the stakes and risks were high. They were not the greatest generation, but they were the greatest of their generation. Let’s not strike a similarity between them and draft evaders. They were no more similar than the two sides at Charlottesville, Va.

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We did not win, but had we not gone to Vietnam, the consequences would have been far worse.

Tom Lockhart, Long Beach

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To the editor: Two wars from Vietnam? Yes, and more than 2 million stories.

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I can remember being at the induction center in downtown Los Angeles, then leaving for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. That was on Jan. 8, 1968. I returned to the downtown bus depot on June 27, 1970; much had changed within myself, yet most people in L.A. did not comprehend what was taking place in Vietnam.

My experiences were vast and at times unbelievable, from Marines boot camp to Vietnam, not to mention the places in between. I never mention those stories, but I relive those tales every night in my sleep.

I have survived all these years, going to college while I was working at my profession at a neonatal intensive care unit. I tried to help those who could not help themselves — helpless, sick babies — only to fail at times. But over 43 years, I learned from my mistakes.

Yes, there are two wars in which I have fought, but not without trying to understanding the mistakes I made. Those of us who fought were not the smartest or the wealthiest, but many had trust in our leaders. Why did our leaders fail us, and why do they ignore what they did to us?

Thomas H. Jenkins, Alhambra

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