Letter to the Editor: Veterans for Peace Commemorate Two Ignominious Anniversaries

Vietnam Memorial
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. — photo by Scott Crawford
By Ed Flaherty

This summer we have to decide how to digest two anniversaries; July 28, which marked 100 years since the beginning of WWI in 1914; and, August 7, which marks 50 years since Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964.

All wars are evil, and all could have been avoided if individuals, tribes, leaders and countries had practiced common decency and common sense. But some wars are more vile, more unjustified than your run-of-the-mill war. WWI and the Vietnam War both fit that description.

What might have been settled with some arm-wrestling contests or sword fights among royal cousins in 1914 instead led to the deaths of 10 million soldiers and 6 million civilians. Lloyd George, British Prime Minister said, “If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know, and can’t know.” Not only was the war the most devastating the world had ever seen, it did not lead to peace. In spite of the widespread horror at the carnage of WWI, WWII grew out of the seeds of WWI.

Fast forwarding from 1914 to August 7, 1964, we witness the U.S. Senate voting 88-2 to approve the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, henceforth used as the legal basis for the U.S. war in Vietnam. The resolution was based on lies and pretense — history is clear on this. The two senators, Morse and Gruening, who had the courage to say no, should be honored as heroes. Many have visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in D.C., which lists the 58,286 U.S. troops who died as a result of the war. It’s about 150 yards long. If a similar wall were built for the Vietnamese who were killed in the war, the wall would stretch for miles. People are still dying today from the Agent Orange and land mines of that war.

At 7 p.m. on August 7, 2014, Veterans for Peace Chapter #161 will hold a public observance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in front of the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City.

It will feature testimony from five combat veterans of the Vietnam War, Steve Hanken, Paul Appell, John Ivens, Thomas Kelly and John Jadryev. For further info, contact Ed Flaherty at 319 621-6766 or

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