Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tom Hayden In Memorium

A public memorial for Tom Hayden is being planned for Sunday, February 19, at Royce Hall in Los Angeles.  

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations be made to the Peace and Justice Resource Center, which will aid in the continued promotion and preservation of Tom's good works.

His family asks for privacy at this time and thanks all those who have reached out with condolences.  

Below are public and personal comments that have come to our attention, including links to published responses.  Please send additional links to Personal reflections can be sent to the same address or added via "Post a Comment" below.


From Vietnam

Dear American friends/brothers/sisters and colleagues:

Warmest greetings from the Vietnam-USA Society, Hanoi, Vietnam!

We are all shocked and saddened to learn that Tom Hayden, a well-known progressive American peace-activist/leader and especially a long-time good friend of the Vietnamese people died at the age of 76 on Sunday, October 23rd 2016 in the arms of his loved ones.

With all his work and energy, Tom Hayden had made great contributions to make this world a better place of mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation among nations without war, violation, discrimination and unjust treatments. Tom will be forever living in our hearts and never forgotten.
We at the Vietnam-USA Society (Viet-My Committee before 1991) had many opportunities to host and facilitate the visits together with some American peace-activists and also his loved ones and friends to the North Vietnam during the war (1965, 1967 and 1972) and also several times in recent years of 2008, 2013). He had a receiver of "Medal of Peace and Friendship among Nations", the most valuable award from VUFO in 2008.

We at VUFO, VUS and VPC will send an official letter of condolences to Barbara Williams, all his loved ones and friends soon.

FYI, I now propose (to the VUS/VUFO leaders) holding a memorial ceremony on Friday afternoon, October 28th 2016 in VUFO Headquarters in Hanoi, for colleagues and friends both Vietnamese and Americans and internationals ) to attend to commemorate and pay tribute/homage Tom Hayden. (We hope to have some veteran peace activists of Vietnam as Mdm Nguyen Thi Binh, Mr. Pham Khac Lam, Mr. Tran Minh Quoc, Mr. Trinh Ngoc Thai, Mr. Nguyen Van Huynh…and Ameriican friends as Ms. Lady Borton, Chuck Searcy, and some others American and internationals available in Hanoi to attend)

We avail of this to send the deepest sympathy and condolences to Barbara, Liam, Troy, and his family and relatives and all our colleagues and friends there on such a big loss.

May our mutual great friend and great peace activist Tom Hayden rest in peace in the grace of God! May his loved ones and relatives have enough courage and energy to overcome the sorrow to soon resume a normal life.

Tom Hayden will certainly be with us forever and never forgotten!

With the sincerest condolences,

Bui Van Nghi
VUS Secretary General
The Vietnam-USA Society

From Cuba

Where to begin? What can one say faced with the difficult news of his death?

We worked together, at a distance, on the new edition of “Listen
Yankee! Why Cuba matters”, the outcome, in part, of long conversations
between two old friends, and to an extent in part, a sort of fore
handed memorie.

Because our friendship remained intact since the 1960´s when we each
headed glorious organizations, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
and the Federación Estudiantil Universitaria (FEU).

Our ideals and our struggle united us and above all the headstrong
conviction that a better world was possible and that it was something
worth dedicating one’s life to achieve.

There is so much that must be said about Tom Hayden. The long road
that so often sent him to jail from the days when he marched in the
South to defend the civil rights of black people to finding himself at
the helm of the movement against the Viet Nam war with its seminal
moment at the insurgence of the youth movement in Chicago in 1968. A
road that led him to occupy elective posts never abandoning the dreams
of his youth.

Because for him the 60´s were never a thing of the past and one can
never reference those everlasting years without mentioning him

He had a large body of published works, books, essays, and speeches
from the Port Huron Statement, functional manifesto for SDS, to his
texts on Afro-American rebellion in New Jersey, to his most recent
works, where his solidarity with Cuba was ever present, and where his
struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five saw no bounds.

His life and his ideas will continue being an inspiration to the new
generations. He was, is and always will be, what the founder of the
FEU in Cuba always wanted, an eternal young rebel.

Until victory onward Tom, comrade in arms, comrade.

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
(former President of the National Assembly)

From Ireland

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has expressed sympathy at the death of US political figure Tom Hayden.

Speaking today Teachta Adams said;

“I heard today of the death of Tom Hayden with sadness and regret.

“Tom was a truly iconic figure who had a profound and lasting influence on the direction of American politics in the 60s and 70s .

“His identification with Ireland and his pride in his Irish roots are well documented particularly in his book Irish on the Inside published in 2001.

“He was a friend and an ally.

“He was outspoken about his support for justice and equality in Ireland and visited the north many times. His writings on Ireland showed his unequivocal solidarity with the efforts to bring about change, something that was at the core of his political work all his life.

“Tom was on the California State legislature from 1982 to 2000, serving as Assembly man and Senator.

“Our deepest sympathies to his family, to his wife Barbara Williams, his sons Troy Garity and Liam, his step daughter Vanessa and to his circle of friends and colleagues world wide.”


Personal Reflections

From Arthur Waskow

Friends, Comrades, Co-workers for the Healing of the World, and Beloveds — 

I opened the NY Times on-line this morning and, glancing over the myriad articles on the Home Page, caught my breath to see 

Tom was one of the best of our gaggle of change-makers. 

I met Tom during the Golden Age of SDS, when Tom and Todd Gitlin, Carol Cohen McEldowney, Paul Booth, Casey Hayden, Alan Haber, Marilyn Salzman Webb, Lee Webb were so brave and so brilliant that they drew me into my first arrests, drew me into fusing the profound intellectual work of Marc Raskin and others of my colleagues at the Institute for Policy Studies with the brilliant and moving — emotionally and spiritually moving — social analysis of the Port Huron Statement, which Tom wrote, and with the radical community organizing and nonviolent street protests that he often led. 

I remember him among the SDS gathering to protest in Washington during the Cuban Missile Crisis when in the face of what seemed a quite likely death of millions in a nuclear war, they came in tears and determination to challenge the insanity. 

I remember him in 1968 in Chicago, semi-disguised for fear of bing picked out and arrested while he was marshaling the antiwar protests at the Democratic National Convention, asking me and a number of other antiwar Convention delegates to make up a thin line standing between Mayor Daley's police and the National Guard on the one hand and the Grant Park demonstrators on the other hand, in the hope that we could prevent a bloody police attack on the crowd in the park by putting our "more respectable” bodies in the way. 

I remember him facing the rabidly hostile Judge Julius Hoffman as one of the defendants in the trial of the Chicago Eight, accused by the US government of fomenting riot in Chicago — and calling to ask me to come testify as an eyewitness that the Grant Park demonstrators were planning nonviolent protests, not a violent riot. 

I remember him writing and speaking on how the best of the radical Irish tradition, one strand of the thought-weave with which he identified, spoke to justice and to caring for the Earth, and his affirmation of what I had been doing in parallel, drawing on Jewish tradition. 

I remember him just a year and a half ago in a moment of laughing together over a cup of coffee before he took up the struggle once again, speaking at the 25th anniversary gathering to celebrate and renew the Vietnam Peace Movement. 

I imagine him now, not resting in peace but once more taking up the struggle in an ambiguous “Heaven” to win more justice, more peace, more healing in the world. 

Tom Hayden, Presente! 

Shalom, salaam, peace, Earth! Arthur 

From Chuck Searcy

I've been thinking about Tom since I heard the news last night.  He was rock-steady, always willing to listen but unwavering in his commitment and his vision.  He was impressively smart and articulate, with a talent for explaining challenges and strategies in ways that made them seem actually achievable. 

A few years ago Tom was in Viet Nam on a short visit, with his wife and son.  The Vietnamese chose the occasion to honor Tom with a Friendship Medal awarded at a small ceremony to which I was invited. The medal was presented by former Vice President Nguyen Thi Binh, in the presence of current and retired officials, some former ambassadors, a few who were part of the negotiating team at the Paris Peace Talks.  

Tom spoke about the early anti-war years and efforts to join together people of good will in Viet Nam and the U.S. to bring about an end to the war.  He became emotional as he reflected on those past experiences, recalling what the people of Viet Nam had suffered through, the shock and horror people around the world felt during the Christmas bombing of 1972.  I looked around the small room and everyone had tears in their eyes.  It was a moving moment.  I understood then the significant impact that people like Tom had brought to bear during those difficult years, and the depth of appreciation from the Vietnamese for the commitment of Tom and so many thousands of Americans and others who were part of the effort. That unity and solidarity bonded us all for a lifetime.  

Tom was tireless, to the very end.  His contributions will be remembered with gratitude and respect. 

From Robert Garcia

I met Tom Hayden when he was running for US Senate in 1976. We have worked arm in arm – on police reform, environmental justice, education, human rights in Guatemala, Cuba, Ireland and the U.S. . . . Tom is a national hero. Tom is one of my heroes.

With civil rights leader Paul Hoffman we wrote an op/ed in the L.A. Times and letter to the U.S. Department of Justice that led to the Ramparts consent decree and 13 years of police reform in the L.A. Police Department.

Tom helped secure state funds to create L.A. State Historic Park and Rio de Los Angeles State Park, leading to the greening of the L.A. River and the green justice movement in California. He lifted up our work on climate justice, securing grant support for us. He introduced us to legislators in Sacramento for quality education including physical education in public schools. He brought us in to help build a successful defense team for Alex Sanchez, pledging his own house for bail, resulting in the federal government dismissing all charges.

When the head of the Irish bar association asked me to introduce them, Tom asked only one question before agreeing:  Is he Catholic? Tom is one of the smartest, most widely read people I have ever known. He would casually mention books, leading to weeks of reading for me to understand what we needed to know in order to act.

People asked "Is that the Tom Hayden on The City Project's Board?" Yes, the Tom Hayden. Tom inspired my sons and generations of others to carry it on. Tom and I stood face to face with death in a way few will ever know; he helped me make it through the dark time. He outed my personal voice by publishing my personal messages to him, teaching me to be human and not hide behind the legal and political. I often took notes during our conversations to try to live up to his words – "If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, you will engender fear. Address the fear."

The struggle continues. The struggle is easier because Tom helps lead the way. Thank you, Tom, with love and peace.

Robert García
Founding Director and Counsel 
The City Project 
1055 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1660 
Los Angeles, CA 90017 
Visit our website and blog at 

From Robert J.S. “Bob” Ross

Thinking about Tom

Monday, October 24, 2016

Always at the edge of the possible and the visionary. Ever able to formulate our best hopes and fears into language that elevated and instructed. Baseball fan. Wanting to recast the radical tradition into American idiom and take it out of the hands of sectarians. Willing to be, as our friend Jack Newfield put it, in a prophetic minority, but always looking for the route to majoritarian progress.

It was Tom that found the phrase participatory democracy in another of our friend’s work, Prof. Arnie Kaufman, and made it an anthem. If Carl Oglesby was the one who took the English language and in his eloquence fueled the anti-war movement, it was Tom and others of our cohort who strategized that movement and led it to a kind of victory in the Seventies.

When Tom came back to Ann Arbor after the summer of 1961, impressed with Berkeley’s SLATE political party, he and Ken McEldowney and Andy Hawley initiated VOICE political party. Then, Sharon Jeffrey and I led VOICE into SDS and won seats on the student government. VOICE became SDS’s largest chapter with broadest campus support. It was Tom who had the vision of student political parties as a democratic vehicle for progressive agitation.

When Tom was drafting the Port Huron Statement, Al Haber and I were nominally on the drafting committee with him. He would send us ideas and pieces and reports of what he was reading. We were pretty much the cheering section. When we worked on it at Port Huron’s AFL-CIO camp it was Tom who devised the means of having a democratic discussion of a very large document:  the division of it into debatable bones for which a later drafting committee would finalize the mandated flesh.

In retrospect, amidst all the serious, and as the War wore on, increasingly grim, work there some moments of hilarity. On the night of the big antiwar demonstrations during the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention Tom was concerned that the Chicago Police Department would try to kill him. As the rally in Grant Park ended and demonstrators began the technically forbidden march through downtown, Tom and I got in to the car of a journalist and with his press pass as a passport, got through the police lines and out of the Park. Back on the South Side at my apartment Tom used theatrical glue to put on a false beard and he took the hat I used for fishing together trying to disguise himself. We returned in our magic carpet press car to Michigan Avenue to take up the march. As I recall it in my mind’s eye in his disguise he looked just like Tom Hayden in a silly get-up.

Thinking about our current situation I am reminded that when Tom ran for Senate in California he created an organization called the Campaign for Economic Democracy and used that idea to signify egalitarian policies that would still be relevant. And in his last few years his newsletter kept referring to The Long War – a term he used for the whole disastrous Middle Eastern theatre.

At the beginning of our era and until the end of his life Tom had a prophetic voice. That voice, needed now so very much, will be sorely missed.

From John McAuliff

Tom was probably the first new left person I met when I went to a National Student Association conference for Carleton College prior to the Mississippi Summer Project and Peace Corps.

We worked together most intensely when I was at AFSC and he and Jane Fonda and others were creating the Indochina Peace Campaign.

Our shared passion for Vietnam and Cuba is obvious enough. Less visible to others was Ireland and the unfinished struggle for its unification.

Tom's political insights and sense of strategy were an unusual blend of vision and practicality. If any of us had the potential to emerge as a mainstream national political leader, it was Tom. The fact it did not happen reflected the challenge for the US left to seriously engage with power. Imagine the impact in the US Senate had Tom become a member; likely greater than Paul Wellstone.

McAuliff response to kvetching from the left in comments section of The Nation

Tom took the risk of applying his new left values in the real world.

The impact of his internationalism was appreciated in Vietnam, Cuba and Northern Ireland as can be seen here

Tom was a long time friend and colleague.  I disagreed with his pre-convention endorsement of Hillary Clinton, but respected his goal.

We will miss his vision, his organizing skill and his engagement with our history.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

From Leaders of United for Peace and Justice

United for Peace and Justice mourns the death of Tom Hayden, a long-time friend and generous supporter of our organization. 

Tom Hayden will be remembered as one of the giants of the movement for peace and social justice in our lifetime. Through all the major struggles of the past decades ? for civil rights, peace, a safe environment annd labor rights- his was a consistent voice on behalf of a wider humanity. 

Throughout his adult life, Tom never shied away from controversy and his ideas about strategy were never predictable. What could be counted upon was his thoughtfulness ? his willingness to look at problems in a coomplex way and to be open to different perspectives. 

Always a person of courage and energy, he remained an inspiration to new generations of activists. 
For United for Peace and Justice, he was a loyal friend---participating in our conferences, working groups and strategy sessions. No matter how busy he might be, when we needed his help, he was there for us. 

We will always value our association with Tom Hayden and forever benefit from his example of principled activism. 

--Leslie Cagan, Rusti Eisenberg, and Gael Murphy and the United for Peace and Justice Coordinating Committee 

Video of Tom addressing UFPJ conference in 2007


New York Times obituary

Los Angeles Times obituary

Article by John Nichols in The Nation 

Article by Steve Wasserman in The Nation

Article by Richard Eskow in

Article by Mike Davis in Los Angeles Review of Books

Op-ed article by Harold Meyerson in Los Angeles Times

Article by Bill Boyarksy in Truthdig

Op-ed article by Marjorie Cohn in Consortium News

Article by Vivian Rothstein in Capital and Main
"How Tom Hayden Helped Change My Life – and the Country – for the Better"

Article in Vietnam's primary newspaper, Lao Dong (in Vietnamese)

Obituary by Peter Dreier in The American Prospect
"Tom Hayden Always Rocked The Boat"

Article by Richard Flacks in In These Times
"Remembering Tom Hayden (1939-2016): My Friend and a Lifelong Change Maker"

Friday, October 21, 2016

50th Commemoration Meeting Notes

Federal Advisory Committee Meeting Report
from the USA Vietnam War 50th Commemoration
held in Washington, DC, Sept 19, 2016

The Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) for the US government and Pentagon Vietnam War 50th Commemoration (VWC) met in Washington, DC, during the afternoon of September 19, 2016.  It was the last public meeting of the FAC for the current fiscal year and it was also its longest meeting as well.  Chaired by former governor and Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, and composed of 16 other members including Morton Dean, former CBS-TV news correspondent, Rocky Bleier, former NFL Pittsburgh Steeler star, and Jan Scruggs, who founded Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund which built the Memorial Wall, the meeting had only two agenda items but met for over 3 hours.

The two agenda items for the meeting were:  (1) report and consideration of the Certificate of Honor Program; and (2) report and voting on 7 recommendations from the Communications Working Group (CWG).  Below is a summary of those deliberations.  The format of the meeting included several staff reporting to the committee, members of the committee discussing those reports and then voting.  About 10 people from the public sat and observed.  Public attenders are not able to speak, nor ask questions.  Comments and questions from the public can be submitted to the staff in writing.
Certificate of Honor Program

In addition to the pins and certificates for all military who served during the Vietnam War era, staff reported to the FAC that they are seeking to identify and “pin” four (4) new special types of badges/lapel pins and certificates and each of those were discussed and presented.  In the past these certificates were given out by a few of the Commemorative Partners but staff is now “rolling” them out on a nationwide basis.  They are:  (1)” former, living American Military POW” and if deceased presented to surviving spouse; (2) “accounted for” for immediate family members listed as missing; (3) “in memory of” for immediate family members who are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; and (4) “deceased Vietnam Veteran’s surviving spouse” at the time of death a veteran who served in Armed Forces at any time from Nov 1, 1955 to May 15, 1975 (please note this timespan  which was publicly presented for the first time).  These certificates are requested through the over 10,000 Commemorative Partners (CP) across the country.  Of the approximately 9.2 million who served during the time of the Vietnam War, approximately 7 million are still living and thus far about 1.4 million (20%) have been recognized and given pins/certificates.  Examples of recipients from each of the 4 new categories listed here were presented to the FAC through slides and testimonies.  One of those featured a program at the Nixon Library in southern California.   For more details about statistics of certificates and Commemorative Partners please see the Committee’s website at:

CWG Recommendations, Discussions and Decisions (7)

#1 “Highlight various issues and problems facing Vietnam veterans today (e.g., healthcare, lack of housing, disabilities, suicide rates) at Commemorative Partner events.”

This first recommendation generated considerable discussion and finally met with its withdrawal.  Based on feedback from local CP groups as well as prior discussions with the FAC, the CWG proposed for consideration a formal adoption of paying specific attention to the trauma, problems and social concerns which still plague Vietnam Veterans.  There was support for highlighting these issues especially given by Tom Ridge, but in the end it was defeated for two major reasons: (1) that it was outside the Congressional mandate given by Congress which is primarily to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their families and thus not pay any particular attention to specific problems and crises; and (2) that other federal and state agencies already pay attention to these issues and have resources to provide answers and support, such as Department of Veterans Affairs.  Since this was a  public meeting, the FAC of the VWC wanted to make sure that it went on record to acknowledge that it agrees that these are major issues facing the country and government.  It was interesting to listen to some of the discussion especially around PTSD and how WWII military leaders and soldiers first referred to the Vietnam veterans as “whiners.”  Committee members thought keeping accurate records of suicides was not easy, nor reliable and therefore outside of its parameters, easier not to track.  Later in the meeting this same discussion would repeat and continue itself in another recommendation.

#2 “Strengthen the text and focus of VWC public service announcements (PSA) on the Vietnam veteran issues outlined above.  Focus on the veteran, rather than the Commemoration.  If the story is compelling, TV stations likely will run the PSAs.”

After having dealt with the proposed focus above, this recommendation turned into one of how to get out the message and strengthen media strategies.

A review of previous PSAs was provided and some were launched as early as 2012 and are still running.  The most successful has been “A Moment of Truth: Thank You for Your Service” which has been viewed over 2.3 million times.  One which started in 2014 features actor Sam Elliot, another out this year had Honda’s public support and approval and a new one in production was presented.  This was 7 minutes long and featured prominently at the beginning President Obama thanking soldiers and why it is important to do so.  After this video was shown, a long discussion took place and it was pretty much Morton Dean who said that he thought it was not a good use of resources nor realistic to think that major television stations would use the PSAs.  He said they could be used as background information so that stations and reporters would go out and find their own stories.  And though one member pointed to the importance of social media, most of the discussion centered on tv, radio and print.  Staff did indicate that they were following and creating images for UTube, Twitter and Facebook but there was no other discussion on these means.  One member who belongs to a local Rotary Club said he could use the 7’ video at his meeting.  Staff ended saying that they would keep the footage and make available to local CPs.  It was troubling to hear some of the language of the video especially “how honoring the Vietnam veterans honors the war” and “join the nation as it thanks and honors Vietnam veterans.”  The committee is aware of the division created by the war and puts much effort into not discussing that, rerouting topics so that no real discussion takes place.  It sees itself as a healer for the nation and the soldiers who fought but came home in disgrace.  The healing part is featured.  Why the disgrace is silenced.   Other parts of the communication strategy include a November release of a PSA from the director of the project mainly to traditional media outlets along with social media and on the VWC website.  New marketing ads are being developed along with a new branding initiative.  These were not fully discussed.  Plans for 2017 include promotion of some of the 300 oral histories of Vietnam veterans into 30-90 minute tapes and, again, the primary focus will be to thank and honor veterans and their families.

#3 “Engage the top 2-3 (or 10) CPs that provide VWC the greatest reach and return on investment of time and energy.”

Staff reported that they have been busy in their “reachback” initiative to establish stronger links with the thousands of CPs across the country.  Some of these CPs are actually military contractors and most of the others are affiliated with the DAR and local veterans organizations.  But many of the CPs have not been in touch with the DC office and so staff are contacting them primarily so that the CPs will use commemoration materials, booths, speakers and thereby increase visibility.  In addition, staff want to make sure they have accurate contact information and report activities that they might not be aware of.  Experience reveals that the greatest return on investment comes from major corporations and their national advertising platforms.  Rather than hosting events, corporations assist with the “national voice” for the project.  One exception has been American Airlines which did host 11 separate events through which they honored and thanked 7,500 veterans and produced a PSA from the enhanced effort.  The NFL was again mentioned as an organization through which most members thought more promotion would be possible.  Staff gave the impression that there is much momentum around CPs and especially with multinational corporations.

#4 “Incorporate statistical facts as a backdrop to VWC messaging that include suicide rates among Vietnam veterans, as well as the number who are amputees, disabled, etc.”

It is curious that this subject was raised again and staff explained that they were compiling minutes, notes and interviews from previous meetings and discussions and were putting those into a recommendation for decision.  Some of that discussion took place within their Internal Working Group.  Staff clearly too mentioned that they were well aware of the limits and parameters of the Congressional mandate so perhaps they were trying to be consistent and faithful to prior deliberations.  However, the outcome here was the same as before.  Oddly enough Tom Ridge, who chaired the entire meeting, started this discussion by once again indicating how he thought this was important and by the end of the discussion indicated he thought he knew what the outcome would be and that it would be different than his early formulation.  Ridge was saying that the project’s literature should not be afraid to treat and discuss these issues.  He then suggested that statistics about these conditions could be provided without making them talking points. But, the result was that the focus would remain on thanking and honoring vets and their families.  Some of the discussion centered on the difficulty diagnosing mental issues and whether they were war related.  The vote by the FAC was to withdraw this recommendation which meant to not undertake.  I must admit that as the committee was discussing the impact of the Vietnam War on US soldiers, I kept thinking about the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian people, their land, their undetonated mines, their continued impact of Agent Orange on future generations.  Not a single word was mentioned.

#5 “Pursue a corporate CP that would be willing to publish and distribute to public and private high schools and colleges a book that highlights ‘The Vietnam War Generation.’”

This was another interesting discussion.  Staff reminded the committee that already under consideration has been a “Table Top Commemoration Book” but that this was still in discussion and no decision has been made.  It was a reminder that if the book proposed here was undertaken, perhaps it could also be the “table top” version.  The discussion then moved to:  is it a book about the war?  or is it a book about the commemoration?  Most thought there were already many books about the war and that the book proposed here should be on the commemoration.  Then the discussion turned to how staff would have to cooperate with Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) regarding contracting processes and fair/open competition.  Then one member said, “Look, defense contractors made trillions off the war, they should be able to finance and donate to this project with no problems.”  And, another mentioned that the project would lose control if it proceeded through FAR and that it might be better to organize internally and perhaps with a company which would then produce or publish it.  Mark Franklin stated what he says at every meeting and perhaps for our benefit that “we are not educators” and are not producing lesson plans because this comment came after several mentioned the value of producing educational materials especially because so little about Vietnam is taught in public schools.  As one said, “There are a few paragraphs of garbage about the war and that is all.”  Franklin seems to think that educational materials are narrowly defined as course outlines and bibliographies.  Most of the members I think view almost all of their materials as educational and much of their outreach is directed to schools and colleges.  There were frequent references to academic institutions.  By definition, Franklin can assert that their efforts are not strictly pedagogical but basically there is a lot of support for providing materials to schools and young people as will be seen in another recommendation.  During this topic’s deliberation, the upcoming documentary by Ken Burns was mentioned.  Staff have been in touch with him, no one knew precisely when it would be aired, but staff thought “it will be helpful.”  Morton Dean indicated he was working on a film project as well but no further details were made.  Then the discussion turned to what kind of final report does the project want to make?  To where do all of their documents and resources get placed?  Staff reported that the Library of Congress would be the repository and that the project is required to make a final report as well as financial accounting.  So the book proposal fell into discussion about final reporting.  This question plus the matter of how to finance a book and exactly what its primary focus will be meant that this recommendation was tabled and will come back at a later meeting.

#6 “Pursue the publication of articles highlighting the Commemoration in the NRA magazine.” 

 Because media strategies were already considered, this topic was processed quickly.  In addition, other publications were mentioned such as “Echoes,” official U.S. Army newsletter distributed to 1.15 million subscribers.  Staff mentioned that they have lists of hundreds of professional publications likely read by Vietnam veterans and so they will be contacting those in the coming year.  Among them are:  Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, Marine Corps Times, Defense News, Armed Forces Journal, Federal Times, Disabled American Veterans and Rolling Thunder.  Some of the discussions at this meeting were to provide direction and priority for next year’s programming.  Though the writing and placing of articles is an ongoing effort, steps will be taken to elevate visibility through more articles in the coming years.  In addition, OpEds were discussed and it was reported that the director submitted OpEd pieces in 2016 to the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, LA Times and Washington Post but there were “no takers.”  An article to “The American Legion” magazine was recently submitted but no reply yet but it has 2.3 million readers.  “DC Military Magazine” is currently interviewing spouses of Vietnam veterans for its November issue.  A 600-word OpEd was published by the “Military Times” on Aug 13, 2016.  Staff hopes publications will be interested in the lives of FAC members since they are by in large Vietnam veterans.

#7   “Pursue two national spokespersons for the Commemoration; one who could connect with the Vietnam veteran, and one who could connect with the younger generation of Americans.” 

Unfortunately I had to leave before this item concluded but staff indicated that they were researching the value of national spokespeople to build VWC’s national voice and no final decision of course has been made.  Plans are underway to refine requirements and identify all legal and financial constraints.  Staff also welcomed the participation of FAC members and also requested their cooperation to identify potential candidates.

This meeting was better attended and the agenda more engaging.  Previous meetings have had fewer members and consisted of staff reporting with less discussion.  There was no opportunity for me to ask anyone about the recent New York Times article which discussed how the website timeline has been problematic and featured interviews of people from our project.

Terry Provance, Sept 21, 2016

For clarifications, questions and comments please contact