Saturday, November 23, 2013

* Contrition Ritual? Apologizing to Davis Nguyen , a Junior at Yale, for an Unnecessary War which was based on Lies

50th Anniversary of Gulf of Tonkin

Letter to the Editor
The Yale Daily News

Dear  Editor:

August 10, 2014 will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara clearly states was based on incorrect information, a euphemism for lies.  

That resolution became the 'justification' for the Vietnam War and 58,272 American deaths to say nothing of uncounted Vietnamese deaths.

Yale, a great anti-war bastion during the 1960's and 70's under the leadership of Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, now has an opportunity to join in recognizing the error of that slaughter.

In a recent Yale Daily News article [below] by a Yale Junior and Vietnamese-American, Davis Nguyen, honoring his late aunt,  I felt a spontaneous need to apologize on the YDN posting board for that unnecessary war.  I had never encountered an actual Vietnamese person before and the apology just erupted out of me.

I suspect that there are many like me at Yale who have never met a Vietnamese person, and who might feel a need to apologize ---or express regret --- similar to mine.

I would suggest that the 50th anniverary of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution might provide a formal occasion for such a ceremony of sorrow and regret.

Perhaps Vietnamese students on campus could help Yale organize it-------------- or maybe that would be asking too much.


Paul D. Keane, M. Div. '80

 a day ago
This is a beautiful tribute and now a family heirloom. You are following in your aunt's footsteps with these heartfelt words.
At 42, your aunt was born at the height of our own Viet Nam anti-war struggle in 1971. Adam Gopnik, the brilliant phrase maker and thinker, had the courage to call that war what it really was in an article in last week's New Yorker. about JFK.
Happy Thanksgiving and my condolences to you and your family not only for the loss of your aunt but for what we did to her native land and people.
I bow my head in shame.
Paul Keane
"The truth, that the fate of Vietnam, of crucial importance to the Vietnamese, was of little consequence to America, or to its struggle with the Soviet Union, was simply a taboo statement on every side [during the 1960's]."
(p. 107)
Adam Gopnik
The New Yorker,

Davis Nguyen  
Thank you Mr. Keane for taking the time to read my tribute and for your kind words.
I will make sure to add Closer Than That to my Thanksgiving reading list.

It was my honor, Davis.
And it provided me with the opportunity to do something I have never done before: Apologize to someone of Vietnamese origin for a war that was totally unnecessary and --as former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, admitted when he was 88 years old ------ " a lie.."
I am ashamed of myself and my country .

Davis Nguyen  
Thank you Paul. As my aunt would say you can't change the past, but you can choose what you do in the present.
I am glad you had the opportunity to get it off your chest Paul. It wasn't your fault.

I should have apologized for my country also, but I am not sure they are sorry or even aware---or care to be aware.

    It was my fault that I remained silent on the issue so long.

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