07/10/2008: "Remember Me from Quang Tri"
Unknown Soldiers, Quang Tri Vietnam 1971
I am posting the email exchange below as a reminder of the personal costs of war. This is a lesson that every generation seems to have to learn, to their pain and peril. Do not tell me that Iraq and Vietnam are somehow different. They are both examples of how useless war truly is. Quang Tri, near the demilitarized zone separating South and North Vietnam, was the worst place in the world in 1971.
On Jul 9, 2008, at 7:50 PM:
My Dearest Ms. Van Doren,
In 1971, I was in Quang Tri, Vietnam with the US Army. We were in a lot of combat and we had suffered a lot of casualties.
I didn't want to be there. At times I was so depressed that I was almost suicidal.
Then in April, you came to see us. My unit was brought in from the field right when the MPs started spraying the stage
with bug spray to chase away the mosquitoes and bats. I could not believe my eyes. You were the most beautiful thing I
ever saw. You gave us the will to keep on going. I think that we saw so much bad stuff that we sort of forgot what it would
be like to go back home and were sort of giving up. Seeing you was like a wonderful dream come true. I heard about all the bad stuff
you went through to come up there and see us. I'm glad that you recovered and are doing well. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All my Love and Devotion,
5th Mechanized Infantry
Quang Tri, Vietnam
July 10, 2008
Thank you so much for your touching letter. After reading it last night, I went to bed reliving the frightening and yet fond memories of those days. Often it feels like all those things happened just yesterday. Your gratitude for our visit together in a make shift theater, crowded with mosquitos and bats, on that long ago night, fill me with warm sense of camaraderie and my own gratitude for you being there to make my trip worth while.
I am posting your wonderful letter on my website and on MySpace in the hopes that people can be reminded of the personal costs of war.
Love and kindness,
Mamie Van Doren
If you'd like an autographed photo, please pick one out on my website, and I will send it to you free of charge.