• The Wall Times 65: Commemorate That

    May 14, 2015

    Posted in: Iraq


    I again turn the blog over to a guest commentator, this time a colleague named Mark Ashwill, a U.S. expat who lives in Hanoi. Here’s what Mark had to say:

    As official United States forges ahead with its controversial 13-year Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, which, incredibly, extends from May 28, 2012 to November 11, 2025, and the world celebrates the 40th anniversary of the end of the American War in Vietnam this month, here’s a simple exercise that will help you comprehend the horrific magnitude of the loss of human and, more specifically, Vietnamese life during that war.

    The next time you’re standing at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. thinking about the 58,000+ Americans who died in what was essentially a war of national liberation, perhaps including friends or family members, reach out, touch the black granite, close your eyes and multiply The Wall by 65.

    Let that sink in for a moment: 58,300 times 65.

    Let’s call it the Vietnamese Monument, the Ultimate Wall, inscribed with the names of 3.8 million mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, grandmothers and grandfathers, nearly nine percent of the population at the time, including two million civilians, who were murdered by the U.S. military, its client state and various allies, e.g. Australia and South Korea. A U.S. veteran friend had this to say about one of the 1.8 million Vietnamese souls who perished fighting to rid their country of yet another foreign invader: “One of our victims was searched when the shooting stopped and the bleeding continued and was found to be in possession of a medal. Our interpreter told us it was for heroism at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ fourteen years previous. While we were sent to war to fight communism, he had fought his whole life for his country’s right to self-determination. We traveled 12,000 miles to kill him for that.” (From I Would Rather Die Alone — for Peace: A Soldier’s Dream by Steve Banko, 2003)

    The 3.8 million is not a statistic pulled out of thin air; it is the number of violent war deaths, according to researchers from the Harvard Medical School and the University of Washington. It does not include Vietnamese who died as a result of war-related disease, hunger or lack of medical care.

    3.8 million lives snuffed out, 3.8 million family members become memories, ancestral spirits and pictures on family altars, 3.8 million fates frozen in time. In case you’re counting, that’s the current equivalent of 28.87 million Americans (as of 4/24/15) or the combined populations of Delaware, New Mexico and South Dakota. To put it in historical perspective that’s over 60 percent of the number of Jews generally thought to have been exterminated during the Holocaust. Commemorate that.

    If you want to begin to grasp how it’s humanly (or inhumanly) possible for so many people to be killed in such a short window of time and why so many U.S. veterans of that ill-begotten war suffer from PTSD, are disproportionately represented among America’s legion of homeless and continue to take their lives at an alarming rate, read Nick Turse’s best selling book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. [NOTE: See We Meant Well’s review of that book.]

    If the truth sometimes hurts, this particular truth — in all of its technicolor brutality — will devastate and haunt you. It will also set you free, as in no more illusions and no place to hide, both essential prerequisites to overcoming an inglorious past.

    Now close your eyes again and let a much larger and longer polished black granite monument take shape in your mind’s eye, the Vietnamese Monument, which extends from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument to The White House and back to the Capitol. It’s not all about U.S., is it?

    Originally published in the Huffington Post

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...


      We need to refer to America’s recent war monuments as invasion memorials. The Vietnam Invasion Memorial doesn’t quite have quite the same hallowed ring of course. If our current comfortably retired war criminals insist on monuments to their Middle East invasions any planning committee will face a dautning task. Let’s see- do we go with three distinct dioramic sand pits featuring a few holographic surge mirages or should we combine everything from say 2003 up to whatever into a huge above ground septic tank filled with quicksand? Whew, I’m glad I won’t be on that committee.

      05/14/15 9:32 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      Go, Big Muddy! The BS (Bush Shadow) OBAMAϟϟAϟϟIN’S an A$$ $OUL!!

      05/14/15 11:40 AM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...


      On a tangential matter, perhaps included under the “Commemorate That” category, one of the reasons PTSD was failed to be treated by the VA for Vets of the Vietnam war — the diagnoses for PTSD had been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Providers, aka the DSM.

      The DSM is the bible for mental health practioners and what makes diagnoses possible. The old term for PTSD, combat stress reaction or war neurosis, had been REMOVED from the DSM II in 1968 — right during the Vietnam War. If it can’t be diagnosed, it can’t be treated or covered. That would save a bureaucracy alot of money. Plus, no diagnosis means that no problem exists, a win-win for politicians. A diagnosis was reinstated with the DSM-III, in 1980.

      These days, it would be harder (one hopes) to remove the PTSD diagnoses from the DSM. But officals can classify health problems, as the NY TImes uncovered in its winter series on how the search for biological and chemical weaponry in Iraq was covered up — impeding health treatment for affected US soldiers and slapping military doctors with gag orders. Don’t even ask how it’s going for Iraqis ordered to help with recovery of such weapons:


      05/14/15 2:18 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Kyzl Orda said…

      The truth.

      Notwithstanding the absolutely breathtaking reality of the author of this post. Fuck. If only it were required reading in every fucking classroom in this country. I even shoved it in my family’s flag waving face by virtue of their pathetic Facebook nationalism bullshit. I am now disowned. So be it. Fuck them, and fuck America.

      05/14/15 8:01 PM | Comment Link

    • bloodypitchfork said...


      Meanwhile, the crux of the Dumbest Fucking Country on the Planet can be illustrated in one succinct illustration of the cross section of the cesspool of inanity called America….


      please..please.. goddamn.. I’ve reached the end of my rope connecting me to sanity.

      05/14/15 8:07 PM | Comment Link

    • On Memorial Day, Is There Room to Honor Former Enemies? | The Contrary Perspective said...


      […] vary, but it appears Vietnam lost at least three million people in that war, with some figures approaching four million.  The war in Southeast Asia spread to Laos and Cambodia as well, leading to genocide and the […]

      05/22/15 10:04 AM | Comment Link

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