Letters 10-17-2016

Here’s The Truth The group Save our Downtown (SOD), which put Proposal 3 on the ballot, is ignoring the negative consequences that would result if the proposal passes. Despite the group’s name, the proposal impacts the entire city, not just downtown. Munson Medical Center, NMC, and the Grand Traverse Commons are also zoned for buildings over 60’ tall...

Keep TC As-Is In response to Lynda Prior’s letter, no one is asking the people to vote every time someone wants to build a building; Prop. 3 asks that people vote if a building is to be built over 60 feet. Traverse City will not die but will grow at a pace that keeps it the city people want to visit and/or reside; a place to raise a family. It seems people in high-density cities with tall buildings are the ones who flock to TC...

A Right To Vote I cannot understand how people living in a democracy would willingly give up the right to vote on an impactful and important issue. But that is exactly what the people who oppose Proposal 3 are advocating. They call the right to vote a “burden.” Really? Since when does voting on an important issue become a “burden?” The heart of any democracy is the right of the people to have their voice heard...

Reasons For NoI have great respect for the Prop. 3 proponents and consider them friends but in this case they’re wrong. A “yes” vote on Prop. 3 is really a “no” vote on..

Republican Observations When the Republican party sends its presidential candidates, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people with a lot of problems. They’re sending criminals, they’re sending deviate rapists. They’re sending drug addicts. They’re sending mentally ill. And some, I assume, are good people...

Stormy Vote Florida Governor Scott warns people on his coast to evacuate because “this storm will kill you! But in response to Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that Florida’s voter registration deadline be extended because a massive evacuation could compromise voter registration and turnout, Republican Governor Scott’s response was that this storm does not necessitate any such extension...

Third Party Benefits It has been proven over and over again that electing Democrat or Republican presidents and representatives only guarantees that dysfunction, corruption and greed will prevail throughout our government. It also I believe that a fair and democratic electoral process, a simple and fair tax structure, quality health care, good education, good paying jobs, adequate affordable housing, an abundance of healthy affordable food, a solid, well maintained infrastructure, a secure social, civil and public service system, an ecologically sustainable outlook for the future and much more is obtainable for all of us...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Coming Home... to Vietnam
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Coming Home... to Vietnam

Nancy Sundstrom - March 14th, 2002
You cannot choose your battlefield, God does that for you; But you can plant a standard Where a standard never flew. -- Stephen Crane, “The Colors“

As it does every few years, or as often as we need to try to grapple again with our unresolved national conflicts on the subject, the Vietnam War has become a hot topic and big business, both in the film and fiction worlds.
The release of the latest Mel Gibson film, “We Were Soldiers“ has prompted the paperback release of Colonel Harold Moore‘s autobiographical tale of the same name about the first major battle in Vietnam. And an excellent and moving novel, “An American Sin,“ unique in that it is written from the perspective of an Asian American who needed to prove he was American by fighting in Vietnam, was published in late 2001 to critical acclaim.
Each has a candor, eye for detail, and a poignancy not often found in books about war, and if there is a common theme between them, it is that in war, more than perhaps any other theater of life, the issues of right and wrong are great, usually fairly obvious, and long-lasting.

An American Sin: A Novel About an Asian American and Vietnam by Frederic Su
Su is an ex-Marine from the Vietnam era who has been published in magazines, newspapers, and websites, and has written his first novel with “An American Sin.“ It is a well-crafted story with memorable characters and a great deal of suspense, as he demonstrates in the opening pages of the book, where he plunges the reader into the heart of midnight combat:

“The night air carried with it the scent of danger in Wong‘s mind. It hung like fruit, redolent with the implied carnage that could come. Whenever he thought he heard something, he would grip his M-16 tighter to him, wrapping his right hand tightly around the stock. But it was always innocent night sounds such as the wind rustling the trees and brush or some animal snorting about. In the distance, every once in a while, he heard the sharp yapping of the village dogs. He strained to see down the path, using only the starlight, for the moon had long since set...He could not see his comrades, nor could he hear them. It was like an ethereal dream, and he was the only one in it. The hours passed...He closed his tired eyes. He let his ears play sentry. The world awoke with a huge explosion. Sarge‘s claymore had been tripped. Then the sound and sight of AK-47s and M-16s filled the night air. Then more explosions, grenades thrown by Sarge, then by Smitty and Gonzales. Screams rang out. And yelling, Vietnamese and American...Black shadows raced toward them. Wong let loose...More screams. Wolchak was firing again. Then, both their magazines spent, reaching for more, they suddenly heard only silence. Their ears rang. Slowly, the moans of the wounded filtered through. The smell of cordite hung heavily in the air. Their hearts raced madly. Their eyes held the bloodlust. The silence reigned for what seemed like hours... But Wong, coming down from the adrenalin rush, was shaking now. It finally hit him. This was no longer a game. It was a life where death was a way of living. It was reality more real than he had ever imagined or experienced. He looked at his hands and willed them to stop shaking.“

Su‘s protagonist, Wong, is no stranger to either racism or violence, and from growing up with prejudice in Nevada to the sin of murder he commits in Vietnam - the knifing death of an old Mama-san and her granddaughter while on long-range patrol - he is a haunted man, one whose demons lurk deep within his own beating heart.
Healing will come in the form of a psychiatrist, and two women, one Chinese and one Caucasian, but they have journeys of their own to explore as they attempt to help Wong. By the time the major characters converge at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, honor, duty, and sacrifice take on new meaning and dare the reader to be unmoved.

We Were Soldiers Once... and Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam by Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway
In November 1965, some 450 men of the 1st Battalion, 7th cavalry, under the command of Lt. Col. Hal Moore, were dropped into a small clearing in the la Drang Valley and immediately surrounded by 2,000 North Vietnamese soldiers. Just a few days later and only two and a half miles away, a sister battalion was brutally assaulted. The two combined events made for the first most significant battle of Vietnam, and the price was high, as Moore writes:

“The small bloody hole in the ground that was Captain Bob Edwards‘s Charlie Company command post was crowded with men...Captain Edwards had a bullet hole in his left shoulder and armpit, and was slumped in a contorted sitting position, unable to move and losing blood. He was holding his radio handset to his ear with his one good arm. A North Vietnamese machine gunner atop a huge termite hill no more than thirty feet away had them all in his sights...The furious assault by more than five hundred North Vietnamese regulars had slammed directly into two of Captain Edwards‘s platoons, a thin line of fifty Cavalry troopers who were all that stood between the enemy and my battalion command post, situated in a clump of trees in Landing Zone X-Ray, la Drang Valley, in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam, early on November 15, 1965.

America had drifted slowly but inexorably into war in this far-off place. Until now the dying, on our side at least, had been by ones and twos during the “adviser era“ just ended, then by fours and fives as the U.S. Marines took the field earlier this year. Now the dying had begun in earnest, in wholesale lots, here in this eerie forested valley beneath the 2,401-foot-high crest of the Chu Pong massif, which wandered ten miles back into Cambodia.“
The amazing story of Moore and his men is told first-hand by the commander and the only journalist on the ground through the fighting. It is a tale of leadership, dedication, and a sort of courage most of us will never have to exhibit. It never glorifies war, and doesn‘t shy away from the grim realities of its destructive powers. There‘s also a respect for the strength of the enemy, as was the case in Mark Bowden‘s “Black Hawk Down,“ that one has to admire. And much like that film, by all means go see this one on the big screen, but indulge yourself in the book for the perspective of the men who lived to tell about it.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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