June 22, 2003
Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words, by Larry Smith. Norton. 320 pages. $26.95. Smith, long an editor with The New York Times and then managing editor of Parade, interviewed 24 of the living 142 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the U.S. top decoration for gallantry. Six served in World War II, six in Korea and the rest in Vietnam. Smith's interview pieces are largely direct quotations, though he writes descriptive and transitional material very articulately. The stories are compelling, dramatic and often amazingly modestly told.
May 15, 2001
WASHINGTON -- Someone asked an editor of the Washington Post the other night how long he thought the Bob Kerrey story would run. He answered: "As long as we're alive." By "we" he meant our generation, actually more than a single generation, who experienced the war in Vietnam -- or experienced "the '60s." Then a couple of nights later, in a different setting, David Laventhol, the former publisher of the Los Angeles Times, asked a couple of people why so many people considered Mr. Kerrey a hero but thought William Calley was a criminal.
May 11, 2001
Soldiers in Vietnam had to view everyone as a potential enemy David D. Perlmutter's column "Who commits a war crime?" (Opinion Commentary, May 3) angered me. I surmise that he spent no time in Vietnam but, like many who speak from ignorance, is willing to judge those who lived the experience. The combatant in Vietnam who assumed that any "civilian" did not have the capability to kill was a fool. Doing so placed his life and his comrades' lives in danger. When a unit took fire, everyone was suspected as an enemy.
May 9, 2001
Using a wheelchair doesn't alter the right to enter public places As a disability-rights organization, we find the Velleggia's Restaurant issue ("Restaurant, disability rights advocates at odds," April 16) and two subsequent letters ("Velleggia's restaurant doesn't discriminate against handicapped," April 27) regarding accessibility for persons with disabilities negative and patronizing. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is really about human rights. The fact someone uses a wheelchair or has conditions that prevent him or her from getting through narrow entrances or up steps does not preclude his or her right to independent access to a place of public accommodation such as a restaurant.
May 7, 2001
Who's lying? It's the question that surfaces from the conflicting accounts given by former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey and another man of a bloody episode involving the killing of civilians during the Vietnam War. The answer, say experts in the science of memory, may be that neither is. Both men may be honestly recalling events that occurred 32 years ago on a horrifying night in the Mekong Delta. But memories are often wrong when they are formed, and tend to shift each time they are retrieved, considered, discussed and tucked away.
May 5, 2001
FORMER SEN. Bob Kerrey was a young Navy SEAL lieutenant when he commanded a raid against a Vietnam hamlet 32 years ago. The enemy was almost impossible to discern. Was that villager a Viet Cong spy or an innocent civilian who wanted nothing to do with war? The perilous conditions hardly justify Mr. Kerrey's action on that moonless night in Thanh Phong Feb. 25, 1969, when his forces killed at least 13 innocent women and children. They only help explain. Mr. Kerrey, a former senator from Nebraska and now president of New York's New School University, won the Medal of Honor and lost part of a leg in Vietnam.