1,000 + historians have signed a petition protesting US government plan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War

Historians in the News
tags: Vietnam

This letter originated with John McAuliff, Tom Hayden and David Cortwright. 

2000 M Street NW, Suite 720Washington, DC 20036

Lt. Gen. Claude M. "Mick" Kicklighter
Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemoration Program
1101 Wilson Blvd. Ste. 810
Arlington, Va. 22209

Dear Gen. Kicklighter, 

We write on behalf of many veterans of the American peace movement during the Vietnam era with a deep concern that taxpayer funds and government resources are being expended on a one-sided, three-year, $30 million educational program on the "lessons of Vietnam" to be implemented in our nation's schools, universities and public settings. 

We believe this official program should include viewpoints, speakers and educational materials that represent a full and fair reflection of the issues which divided our country during the war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. 

We support the announced purpose of honoring our veterans for their idealism, valor and sacrifices, assuming that the full diversity of veterans' views is included. As you know, anti-war sentiment was widely prevalent among our armed forces both during and after service, and was certainly a factor in bringing the war to a close. 

Our current Secretary of State, John Kerry, was an important example of GI anti-war commitment. He served with distinction, was wounded in battle, eloquently testified in Congress and joined with Vietnam Veterans Against the War to return ribbons and medals in protest at the Capitol.

No commemoration of the war in Vietnam can exclude the many thousands of veterans who opposed it, as well as the draft refusals of many thousands of young Americans, some at the cost of imprisonment or of exile until amnesty was granted. Nor can we forget the millions who exercised their rights as American citizens by marching, praying, organizing moratoriums, writing letters to Congress, as well as those who were tried by our government for civil disobedience or who died in protests. And very importantly, we cannot forget the millions of victims of the war, both military and civilian, who died in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, nor those who perished or were hurt in its aftermath by land mines, unexploded ordnance, Agent Orange and refugee flight.

These are serious official historical omissions which cause a flawed understanding of lessons we need to absorb as a country 

Your official commemoration should be an opportunity to hear, recognize and perhaps reconcile or heal the lasting wounds of that era. If the US government cannot provide a bridge for crossing that Vietnam divide, how can we urge reconciliation in other parts of the world where sectarian tensions are on the rise? We believe, as did such a huge proportion of the US population decades ago, that the Vietnam war was a mistake. No commemoration of the war can ignore that view. How else can we as a nation hope to learn the lessons of Vietnam, to avoid repeating that mistake over and over again? 

The commemoration can also provide a model for international reconciliation by respecting the growing ties between the US and Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Whether current reality is seen as a hopeful illustration of moving beyond old conflicts or as evidence the war was unnecessary, the commemoration should not reopen wounds with new friends in Indochina by conveying a one-sided view of our shared history.

Please consider that our government is restricted by laws and precedents from subsidizing "viewpoint discrimination", in the phrase of respected constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine law school. Dean Chemerinsky cites the US Supreme Court decision, Rosenberger v. The University of Virginia [1995] where the Court found that students at a state-supported institution could not be denied the same benefits that other student groups received simply because of the nature of their views. Other laws and regulations going back to the 1950s forbid the government from using appropriated funds for self-aggrandizing propaganda or "puffery." In 1987, the US Government Accounting Office [GAO] investigated and chastised the State Department for funding propaganda pieces on Central America to influence public opinion in the United States. 

As we observe the fiftieth anniversary of the war and the concurrent anti-war movement, we would like you to consider the following: 

[1] an immediate meeting to explore the differences and similarities of our perspectives; 
[2] a voice for peace advocates in reviewing and preparing educational materials;
[3] a mechanism for attempting to resolve factual disputes as to the war's history; 
[4] invitations to peace advocates, as appropriate, to public conferences and dialogues sponsored by your agency; 
[5] an exploration of your possible presence at the fiftieth anniversaries of the teach-ins and first march against the Vietnam War next spring. 

Thank you for your consideration. 


Caroline Abbott

John Adamo

Carol Adams

David Addlestone

JudyGumbo Albert

James Alcock

Mark Allen

Mark Allen

Rika Alper

Robert Alpern

Elizabeth Alpert

Amy Alpert

Donna Alvah

Kathie Amatniek

Ann Ambia

Bonnie Anderson

GailWitte Anderson

Dave Anderson

Joan Andersson

Robert Anderson

Joel Andreas

David Applebaum

GeorgeC Archibeque

Christian Appy

Ninon Aprea

Ira Arlook

Kevin Armitage

Kenneth Ashe

Robert Atkins

Ti-Grace Atkinson

Helene Atwan

Paul Atwood

Rene Auberjonois

Bella August

Norman Aulabaugh

Steve Ault

Andy Ayers

William Ayers

Theodore Bagg

Gisela Bahr

Jeanne Baker

Kit Bakke

Jim Baldridge

Frank Bardacke

Elizabeth Barger

Alan Barnes

K. Barnett

MaryAnne Barnett

Jan Barry

John Bartley

JaneGriffith Barton

Thomas Bass

Wayne Bauer

Dale Baum

Rosalyn Baxandall

Thomas Baxter

Paul Beach

Margarette Beckwith

Madeline Belkin

Hope Benne

Asia Bennett

Lee Bennett

Scott Bennett

Phyllis Bennis

Sally Benson

Jeffrey Berchenko

Dennis Berg

Iris Berger

Richard Berliner

AndrewScott Berman

Jeff Bernstein

Anne Bernstein

Joe Berry

Robert Beverly

George Bieger

Ecrin Bilge

Stephen Bingham

TaylorF Binkley

Bruce Birchard

Robert Birchard

Herbert Bix

Jeffrey Blum

CarolynP Blum

Roy Boehm

Anne Boggan

Martin Boksenbaum

Joe Bonavita

Julian Bond

Gerald Bone

Carl Boone

Heather Booth

Paul Booth

James Borchert

Robert Borosage

Lady Borton

Kevin Bowen

Corey Brabon

Mark Bradley

Bob Brammer

Taylor Branch

Jan Brassil

JohnW Braxton

David Bremenstuhl

Howard Brick

Kaye Briegel

Robert Brigham

Ernest Brill

Keith Brinton

Beth Brockman

Frank Brodhead

Barry Brodsky

Carl Broege

Toney Brooks

Keith Brooks

Joshua Brown

Clyde Brown

Kenneth Brown

Sam Brown

Sharon Brown

Derek Buckaloo

Deborah Buffton

Robert Bughman

Robert Bughman

DavidH Bullard

Doug Bullock

John Burke

Lynn Burklow

Diane Bush

Kristin Cabral

Leslie Cagan

Steve Cagan

Scott Camil

MaryBaine Campbell

StanleyE Campbell

Ross Canton

Ken Carpenter

Bill Carpenter

MaryAnn Caton

Joe Cattolico

John Cavanagh

Courtney Cazden

Pat Cervelli

William Chafe

Helen Chauncey

Ana Chavez

Bob Chenoweth

Ben Chitty

Hilary Chiz

David Christman

Zeljko Cipris

Clay Claiborne

Thomas Clash

Charlie Clements

Dick Cluster

Kenton Clymer

Leon Clymore

Judith Coburn

Mardge Cohen

Robert Cohen

RobertDavid Cohen

Albert Cohen

Steve Cohen

Marjorie Cohn

Frank Colella

Linda Collery

Martha Collins

LloydStuart Colson, III

Jim Conn

MaryJo Connelly

AndrewFoster Connors

JV Connors

Tom Conrad

Rusty Conroy

Thomas Conroy

Charlie Cooper

Jack Cook

Ana Coria

Tom Cornell

EstherT Cornell

Tom Cornell

David Cortright

Bill Costley

Paul Couming

Andrew Courtney

Rachel Cowan

John Cox

Richard Crepeau

James Cromwell

John Cupples

Catherine Cusic

Daniel Czitrom

Donald Daiker

Victoria Daiker

Edward Damato

Stephen Dana

Bruce Dancis

Judy Danielson

Thad Danielson

Donald Danyko

Carl Davidson

Lawrence Davidson

Rebecca Davis

Rennie Davis

Joyce Davis

Charles Davis

JudyC DeBaca

Judth DeGroat

Julian DelGaudio

Winter Dellenbach

Anthony DelPlato

Lance DelPlato

Karen DeLue

Michael Dennis

Steven Deutsch

Rodney Dickson

David Dittemore

Linda Dittmar

Phyllis Dolgin

Shawn Donovan

DoloresA Donovan

Dan Dorfman

Arthur Dorland

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Stuart Dowty

William Draper

Mara Drogan

Rebecca Drysdale

Thomas Dublin

Mary Dudziak

Mary Duerksen

Julianne Dumas

Kurt Dunbar

Geoffrey Dunbar

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

George Dutton

Janis Dutton

Arthur Eckstein

Tom Edminster

Corrine Egan

John Ehrenreich

Joanne Ehrhardt

Carolyn Eisenberg

Art Eisenson

David Elder

Geoff Eley

June Ellen Pulcini

John Ellig

DavidE Ellington

Heather Ellis

Daniel Ellsberg

Marilyn Elzey

Richard Erlich

GilS Espinosa

RaymondLee Eurquhart

Marilee Eusebio

James Eusebio

Kathleen Evans

Stuart Ewen

Steve Ewoldt

Benjamin Faber

Richard Falk

Dorothy Fall

Jim Fallon

Jim Fallon

Mike Farrell

Lawrence Faulkner

Gordon Fellman

Michael Felsen

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Richard Fernandez

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Connie Field

Anita Fiessi

Barbara Filner

David Finke

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Dena Fisher

Allan Fisher

John Fitzgerald

Ed Flaherty

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Bill Fletcher

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June Foran

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Anita Frijhoff

Patricia Froelich

John Froines

Ann Froines

Rich Fuller

John Funiciello

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Eric Gable

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Ruth Gallo

William Gamson

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Jerry Garcia

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David Gerber

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Joseph Gerson

David Gerwin

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Pete Gleichman

Harriet Glickman

ShernaB Gluck

Fred Goda

Louis Godena

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Beryl Goldberg

Bruce Goldberg

Jackie Goldberg

Janet Golden

Steven Goldfield

Warren Goldstein

William Goodfellow

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AnnD Gordon 

Linda Gordon

Stephen Gosch

Van Gosse

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Thomas Grace

David Gradwohl

Ivan Greenberg

Robert Greene

LesterMuata Greene

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RonaldJ Grele

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Atina Grossmann

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Dorien Grunbaum

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T Johnson

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JonathanD Phillips

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ML Polak

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Melinda Power

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Brewster Rhoads

Cheryl Rhoden

Lucille Riccitelli

Thomas Richards

RosalieG Riegle

Beth Rimanoczy

GlenA Risdon

John Roberts

John Roberts

Neil Robertson

Jamala Rogers

CarlDouglas Rogers

David Rogg

Nora Roman

Dirck Roosevelt

Huck Rorick

Eve Rosahn

IrmaGarcia Rose

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Bruce Rosen

Ken Rosenberg

Murray Rosenblith

Robert Ross

Gary Rothberger

Richard Rothstein

Vivian Rothstein

Dawn Rubbert

Paul Rubeo

JackiFox Ruby

Jo-Ellen Rudolf

Richard Rudolf

Danilyn Rutherford

Paul Ryder

Ed Sacco

Toby Sackton

Josh Sale

June Sale

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Laurie Sandow

Mark Santow

Judith Saraceno

Susan Sattel

NancyMiller Saunders

JohnW Sayer

John Schaefer

Jay Schaffner

David Schalk

Bill Scheurer

Gordy Schiff

Bruce Schmiechen

Steven Schneider

Wendy Schoener

Ellen Schrecker

Susan Schuurman

Joel Schwartz

JosephM Schwartz

ValerieStoll Schwimmer

GeraldAllan Schwinn

Donald Scott

Joan Scott

PeterDale Scott

Cynthia Scully

Chuck Searcy

Jeffrey Segal

Louis Segal

Mark Selden

Jessica Semon

Gunja Sengupta

Robert Shaffer

Grace Shahrokh

Duane Shank

Laurie Sheridan

Paul Sheridan

Michael Sherry

Robert Shetterly

Nancy Shier

Lynn Shoemaker

Richard Short

Steve Siegelbaum

Bobbi Siegelbaum

Lewis Siegelbaum

Sonia Silbert

Ramona Silipo

William Sinderbrand

Alan Singer

Phillip Singerman

Roy Skellenger

Andor Skotnes

David Slavin

Melvin Small

Amy Smiley

Wayne Smith

Benita Smith

Carol Smith

Billy Smith

SueMarx Smock

John Sniegocki

Peter Snoad

Elaine Sokoloff

Jeffrey Sokolow

Mark Solomon

Robert Spann

Robyn Spencer

JackBradigan Spula

Todd Stafford

Moe Stavnezer

KathleenB Stayton

Bernard Stein

Jon Steinberg

Ted Steinberg

Roberta Stern

DavidN Stern

EllenKadra Stewart

David Stewart

Ona Stonkus

Susan Strasser

LorettaM Strharsky

Tracy Strong

Philippa Strum

TommieLee Suber

David Suisman

Marianna Sullivan

Michael SullivanIII

Jim Sullivan

Jon Sumida

Roger Sundy

Chuck Sutter

James Swarts

Howard Swerdloff

Martin Tandler

Jennifer Tanner

Harry Targ

David Tarlo

Michael Tassone

Richard Taylor

Bruce Teague

Walter Teague

Noell Teasley

Anthony Tedesco

Glenn Tepper

John Terzano

William Thomas

JuliaAdeney Thomas

Allisyn Thomas

Barrie Thorne

Diane Tinnes

Ted Tipton

Sylvia Tiwon

David Tobis

Alex Tom

Monique Tonet

Kim Tormey

DorcasSantiago Torres

Robert Traller

John Trauger

Socrates Triantafillou

Bruce Trigg

John Trinkl

Phil Trounstine

Michael True

William Turley

Mac Turner (JohnM Turner)

Patricia Turner

Paul Turner

Margaret Ullman

JuanCarlos Vallejo

Charles Vandagriff

John VanEyck

John VanSant

Ted Varney

Stephen Viederman

Don Villarejo

Elias Vlanton

Beth Volk

Joe Volk

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KarenLee Wald

Richard Walden

L.Ling-chi Wang

Arthur Waskow

Steve Wasserman

Harry Watson

Tom Webb

Devra Weber

Barbara Webster

Bruce Weigl

Peter Weiler

Anne Weills

Barbara Weinstein

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Peter Weiss

Jayne Werner

Rinda West

Patricia White

Joan Widdifield

Tobey Wiebe

Jon Wiener

Seth Wigderson

Robert Wilcox

Dan Wilcox

DebrahS Wiley

Carol Williams

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Nadya Williams

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Martin Wilson

Jim Wilson

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Ellen Zaltzberg

Melinda Zarrett

Bob Zaugh

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Bill Zimmerman

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