From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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Full Disclosure: Toward an Honest Commemoration of the American War in Viet Nam

By Howard Machtinger

The Full Disclosure campaign is a Veterans For Peace effort to speak truth to power and keep alive the anti-war perspective on the American War in Vietnam. It is a clear alternative to the Department of Defense's (DoD) efforts to sanitize and mythologize the US conflict in Vietnam, legitimizing the continuation of further unnecessary and destructive wars.

President Obama has announced his plan, starting in 2012, for a 13-year-long commemoration funded at $65 million: "As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War ... we pay tribute to the more than 3 million servicemen and women who ... pushed through jungles and rice paddies, heat and monsoon, fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans." (See the official web site at

Rather than conducting an honest evaluation to glean important lessons from US intervention in Vietnam, the DoD is promoting an ex post facto justification of the war without acknowledging the terrible destruction and damage done to the Vietnamese people and land. Neither is the DoD honestly confronting the lasting impact of this conflict on American soldiers and their families, from loss of life and physical disabilities and illnesses, to the transmission of birth defects to their progeny. The DoD does not mention the millions of Vietnamese, including women and children who were captured, tortured, displaced, and killed. There is no representation of the heroic American soldiers who resisted the American War in Vietnam, nor any real acknowledgment of domestic protest. And the DoD project does not pay tribute to the voices and postwar reconciliation activities of many antiwar veterans.

Our goal is to mount a national campaign to present an accurate and honest history of the American War in Vietnam. This campaign will include:

  1. Coordinated actions on the 50th anniversary of the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" and Resolution (in August/September 2014) as well as other important anniversaries.
  2. Protests at DoD events.
  3. Teach-ins during the spring of 2015, the 50th anniversary of the original teach-ins focusing on the realities of the war, the nature of modern warfare, the dangers to civilians, etc.
  4. Development of mobile exhibits of art and photography on Vietnam and modern warfare.
  5. Speaking tours and forums on issues including chemical warfare, attacks on civilians, the fantasies of automated, robotic war, the legacies of war (particularly Agent Orange).
  6. Developing materials to celebrate a pantheon of heroes such as Hugh Thompson, Ron Ridenour, Muhammad Ali, Donald Duncan, Daniel Ellsberg, Susan Schnall, and many others.

If you are interested in supporting this campaign, please go to our web site at or email us at We cannot allow the propagandists of official history to indoctrinate future generations about this terrible war. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa warns: "The past, far from disappearing or lying down and being quiet, has an embarrassing and persistent way of returning and haunting us, unless it has in fact been dealt with adequately."

Upcoming Anniversaries:

Howard Machtinger was a SDS representative at the second session of the Bertrand Russell International War Crimes Tribunal (Copenhagen, 1967). After the war, he helped found the Vietnam Support Committee in Seattle. He made the first of many visits to Vietnam in 2002. He is an Associate member, Veterans For Peace, Chapter 157.

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