Tonight, it was a pleasure to hear from Dale Kueter, former reporter for The Gazette and author of the book “Vietnam Sons.”
He spoke as part of MMU’s Fall Faculty Series on the legacy of the Vietnam War, on the topic of “How Long will the Healing Take?
A long time, in many cases—decades after the war, one of the Marines described in his nonfiction book still blames himself for the death of another Marine. Why can’t he get over the events from almost 50 years ago? Kueter says he sometimes wonders himself, but has concluded, “He can’t.” Some wounds run too deep and some memories forever mark the young men who experience the horrors of combat in their youth.
Kueter introduced KC Churchill, one of the central characters in his book.
The presentation was very effective, I thought. Around 50 people were there to hear it, which is a decent turnout for this kind of event; although I wish Betty Cherry Heritage Hall had been packed with even more MMU students and faculty.
The central mistake of Vietnam—the stumbling into a quagmire of a war with no clear mission and no end point—was rather well described by Kueter. His presentation, I think, did a good job of bringing some of the more difficult themes of the Vietnam era to the forefront.
He spoke for only 30 minutes or so, and like the earlier veteran’s panel, the program left me wishing a bit that there had been more. But, he answered questions for 20 minutes or so, too, and fielded a number of interesting queries.
One audience member asked what the politics of The Gazette newsroom were during the Vietnam era. Kueter replied that he and reporters of his generation were ingrained with the habit of neutrality, and he tried his best to present all sides of an issue that he reported.
I asked him about his decision to write the book, and learned that he had at first attempted to write a novel based on the circumstances, before realizing it was more effective to simply report the facts when the principal characters in the book were ready to talk about their war experiences.
The book “Vietnam Sons” is definitely worth a read—I read it this summer to prepare for this fall series. I’m glad that our VP of Finance, Doug Brock, suggested his father-in-law as a speaker. And thank you, Dale Kueter, for a very thought-provoking and interesting presentation.