A Vietnam vet’s address to Chico’s Camp Casey
The man who made this speech on the last night of Chico’s Camp Casey asked that if we printed this, that we not name him. He was speaking, he said, for all Vietnam veterans.
We all know of the suffering of the people of Iraq, before and since the war. That is not what I’ve been asked to address here, tonight.
I’ve been asked to share my thoughts and feelings, as a veteran. In the last three weeks, I’ve been told, and I’ve heard, that what we’ve done here is shameful, and disgusting. And I say to them that what is truly shameful and disgusting, is that our commander in chief—our war president, vacations and barbeques in Texas while over 90 American [soldiers] have died in Iraq.
It brings back memories of another time, 40 years ago, of another president from Texas, who was famous for the barbeques he held on his Texas ranch.
I am reminded of 10 years of half-truths, deceptions and failed policies that left a nation divided and another country in ruin, and I am reminded of the promise we made to ourselves—no more Vietnams—never again.
I am reminded of the wall and the almost 60,000 names of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, because of the half-truths, deceptions and failed policies of those who pursued their own vain interests.
I need to tell you about another wall, a shadow wall, and it, as is the nature of most shadows, is larger than the object that casts it. It reaches to all four corners of this nation, and on it are over 60,000 names of the people who came home with physical and mental trauma so great that they have also lost their lives to alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and suicide. My heart still bleeds. And I remember the promise we made to ourselves–no more Vietnams, never again.
I wonder how many more names will be on their wall? From the first to the last, they deserve to be remembered. I wonder how far will their shadow wall reach? And my heart weeps. And I remember the promise we made to ourselves: no more Vietnams; never again.
We as a nation built on democracy, we as a free people, have the right and the responsibility to demand the whole truth instead of half-truths. We have the right and responsibility to demand that bad and failed policies are revised. We have the right and the responsibility to demand that those who would deceive us are held responsible for their deceptions. And I remember the promise we made to ourselves—no more Vietnams—never again.
A flame has been rekindled by Cindy, in her son’s name, alongside a dusty country road in Crawford, Texas. In the last month that flame has grown. It is our right and our responsibility to make sure that the flame does not go out again. And I remember the promise we made to ourselves—no more Vietnams, never again.
In closing and with humility and deep sadness, I would like to share one more thing with you. In memory of those from Chico who gave their lives in Vietnam, in order of their deaths:
Edgar E. Nuschke
Dale Glen Sievers Jr.
John Robert Adams
Gary Ralph Schwellenbach-Bernard
Michael H. Reedy
Allen Dean Masteller
Dale Michael Kalb
Gary S Caywood
Gary Dennis Holton
James Allen Boots
Brigg “Joe” Sicilla
Todd Louis Wood
George Francis Talken
Roy Vernon Rawlin
Robert Glenn Hartman
Joseph Verne Olszewski
And our brother who is still listed as missing in action Floyd Wayne “Joe” Strange. My homies, my brothers one and all, from the first to the last, they deserve to be remembered. And I am haunted by the promise we made to ourselves – no more Vietnams – never again.