A Center for Vision & Values Q & A
"Our Vietnam Veterans Were Cheatedâ€â€"Teaching the Truth About Vietnam â€¦ A Conversation with Charlie Wiley
Editorâ€™s Note: The â€œV&V Q&Aâ€ is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. This latest edition of â€œV&V Q&Aâ€ is an intriguing look at media coverage during the Vietnam War with longtime journalist Charles Wiley. Wiley is a veteran reporter who has been lecturing about journalism and other subjects for many years. He is currently involved in Home with Honorâ€"a project about the home front in the United States during the Vietnam War.
Vision & Values (V&V): Charlie, some people have asked you why youâ€™re bringing up â€œsad eventsâ€ that happened so long ago. Theyâ€™ve told you that the Vietnam War is a â€œshamefulâ€ episode in U.S. history that is better forgotten. Why not leave such events alone?
Charles Wiley (CW): Because the Vietnam War had a very powerful influence on U.S. foreign and military policies for decades. But more important, the American psyche and our self-image have been severely damaged by a totally false picture of what happened.
V&V: What false picture?
CW: Virtually everything that most people think happened here in the United
States during Vietnam didnâ€™t actually happen. As a consequence, subsequent "history" about the period is simply wrong.
V&V: That seems like a big claim to make.
CW: It is a big claim to make. But I’m not stupid enough to say something that seems to be so outlandish if I can’t prove it without a doubt. Everything I say is completely authenticated at the Home with Honor project website.
V&V: What sorts of things are you talking about?
CW: Weâ€™ve taught two generations that the American people were unkind to our sons and daughters who served our nation in Vietnam.
And thatâ€™s what nearly everyone believes. But it isn’t true.
Opposition to the Vietnam War was widely known and there was almost no indication of public support for our troops. This picture has been taught as history ever since.
And thatâ€™s what nearly everyone believes. But that’s not what happened.
It has been widely proclaimed that there was no big homecoming parade, as occurred
after World Wars I and II. And thatâ€™s what nearly everyone believes. But itâ€™s nonsense.
V&V: That seems like a lot of people to prove wrong.
CW: No problem. Those who look at our website quickly become believers.
V&V: It certainly sounds like an interesting project. Are you finding that those in the military and academia are supportive of Home with Honor?
CW: Absolutelyâ€"especially when they see the documentation. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Roy Campbell said: â€œWhile teaching military history at the United States Military Academy at West Point … my faculty colleagues and I often lamented the abysmal historical accuracy of most accounts of the Vietnam War. This [project] corrects the wayward historical record that had been promulgated.â€
Weâ€™ve received support from many scholars as well. Dr. Wesley Wynne, a psychology professor from Sul Ross State University, was one of our earliest supporters. He told me: â€œNo one will ever know how much harm was done to the American psycheâ€"especially to those who served in Vietnamâ€"because of the negative picture that was consistently projected during and after the war.
Many lives have surely been negatively impacted by the failure to acknowledge a simple truth: Vietnam veterans were welcomed home by all but a pathetic tiny minority of people.â€
V&V: Exactly what are you trying to accomplish? What is the goal of the Home with Honor project?
CW: Our aim is to correct the history booksâ€"while conclusively affirming thecrucial need for objective news reporting. We want to reach the news media, historians, veterans, social activistsâ€"everyone.
It’s long past the time to correct the false history about our Vietnam veterans and the American people.
It’s time that everyone knows the truth.
V&V: It is indeed. The website is beautiful, Charlie. We strongly urge our readers to click it and share it with others, especially those with family members who were Vietnam vets and who were cheated or dishonored. Great work, Charlie. Thank you.
Home with Honor project
Note: Charles Wiley can be reached at [email protected]
â€"Charles Wiley, a veteran international reporter, has lectured in 50 states and on six continents. Every year, he speaks at dozens of colleges, high schools and other youth audiences throughout the country. Included are annual talks, since 1991, at UC Berkeley (up to 800 students) and to almost 2000 of the countryâ€™s top high school seniors at Boyâ€™s State in New Jersey and Wisconsin.
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