Vietnam as Living History
George Black’s article [“The Lethal Legacy of the Vietnam War,” March 16] is one of the finest works of journalism I have read in years. Black uses the long-form approach to a long story, but in a way that will engage anyone with an ounce of curiosity or humanity. Not that social media doesn’t have its place, but Black shows us what our culture is losing to chatter.
Through characters and vignettes, and without propaganda, he makes the reader understand that Vietnam is not old history, but that the unexploded weapons and cancer-causing chemicals we left behind continue to kill, maim, and deform. Not only people, but whole ecosystems.
He describes the journey of an American Vietnam veteran, Chuck Searcy, who stayed behind as a witness and humanitarian link. Without the slightest preaching, Black asks the question: Where have the rest of us been? It’s journalism at its finest.
Searcy is one of the planners of the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam peace movement in Washington, DC, on May 1–2. Like Black’s article, it should not be missed.
I thought I had hit the depths of feeling humiliated by my country’s moral disgrace in Vietnam, but George Black proved I had not. His portrait of a decent American, Chuck Searcy, helped me get through it. The Vietnamese may have forgiven us, but history, I fear, will not.
John S. Harris
Vietnam-era conscientious objector
George Black’s reporting reminds us of the long and bloody reach of military conflict across generations, and that suffering is disproportionately borne by noncombatants. “The best and the brightest” who conceived the US intervention and sent those bombs and chemicals to farmers’ fields did so either callously or ignorantly. Black’s exposé is a vivid lesson in how the truly abhorrent (gratuitous bombing, “free-fire zones,” and now unexploded ordnance) becomes a lethal byproduct of what the nation was told was truly noble (defending freedom and advancing democracy).
Plaudits to Chuck Searcy and Project RENEW for addressing this violent residue of the war in Indochina.