Commentary Magazine


Veterans Memorial

To the Editor:

Where does George Szamuely [“Hollywood Goes to Vietnam,” January] get off denigrating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the course of his diatribe against the current crop of Vietnam war movies? The memorial does not, as he states, “record the demise of some 58,000 individual Americans, thereby rendering their dying . . . pointless.” As a matter of fact, their dying was pointless, but for most of us the wall commemorates the sacrifice in a wholly fitting manner, embracing common and uncommon heroism in a single heartbreaking sweep of black marble.

Mr. Szamuely, like Tom Wolfe before him, misses the whole point of the memorial, which is the names. To those at play in the fields of government the names make a statement: You want to fight a war? Here’s what it costs. No disrespect to the veterans of Iwo Jima, the Army of the Tennessee, or any of the countless other warriors whose monuments grace our nation’s capital, but I think we have finally got it right.

Ralph Hitchens
Gaithersburg, Maryland

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