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January / February 2008

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Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund Report
A Commemorative Worth Having

BY KEITH KING, PRESIDENT, VVAF
A friend of mine recently told me that the only people who fail are the ones who are out there trying new things or ideas. When we came up with the idea of creating a book for the 25th Anniversary of The Wall, no one was sure it would be a success—not just a financial success but a creative success, and a book we could be proud to call ours.

Bob George is the president of Boston Publishing and a Vietnam veteran. He had the credentials to create the book but had no experience with VVA. We spent many hours talking about the content of this book and its look, its design—every element of it. He spent hours and hours with members of the VVA national staff getting their input and perspective on our issues and what content we should include.

The details of creating this book, selling ads to sponsors, and getting it printed and delivered in time for the Parade are mind boggling. The fact that Bob George and his staff pulled this off is a minor miracle. But the final product proves that we truly owe Bob George and his team a debt of gratitude. It is testament to us as veterans, and it honors us and our brothers and sisters on The Wall. But don’t take my word for it.

Here is what one Vietnam veteran who read the book had to say:
I was handed this copy by a friend at Raytheon who had purchased it. I was asked to deliver it to the Raytheon Library as a gift for all employees to read. I thought that I’d read it before I dropped it off, believing it would be a quick read of just another magazine about the anniversary. I was wrong.
I could not put it down. I had to read it from cover to cover. Maybe being a Vietnam veteran clouds my judgment a little bit. Maybe non-Vietnam vets, and more probably non-veterans, won’t feel the impact that this Commemorative provides.

What I can tell you is that this is an emotional manuscript with many very personal letters and stories that will put you on the ground in the ’60s. It will also place you into the relationships between mothers and sons, children and fathers, and the friendships prematurely and tragically ended, and the guilt that sometimes followed. And all this was done in 107 pages.

If you’ve never been to The Wall, or have not really understood the reason for it, reading this may help explain why it is so important to all of the families and friends of those whose lives were lost during those years. All 58,256 of those names should not be thought of as just names on stone, but rather as people, whose average age turns out to be around 19.5 years.

When you see your reflection in the stone, you can almost imagine it being the face of the person whose name you are looking at.

Nearly three million Americans went to serve in-country during those years. They all have their own stories and most of them still do not talk about it. If you visit The Wall, you can see it in their tears. You can also read it in this Commemorative.

 

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