Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund Report
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.