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Editor’s note: This letter was originally addressed to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Duncan.
I don’t know if either of you were in the Vietnam War, but I want to tell you about a visit that Jim Henry and I had at the Vietnam War Memorial in November.
Years ago we went to the memorial, and I can still see Jim with his head against “The Wall” and crying.
A few days ago, we revisited the wall listing the names of dead soldiers, and Jim was deeply moved that he had been spared when around 60,000 soldiers were not.
The memorial wall was dark; there was no light.
It was at night so it was very dark; however, while lights were there, they were shining up into the sky and not on the Wall itself.
I’m not sure how we ever found it.
Jim said he would write to you about this, but he doesn’t like to bother you because he knows you are as busy as he is, and he usually deals with his pain internally and just goes on about his business.
I don’t know if you have a loved one whose name is on The Wall, but I would hate to be a parent, husband, wife, brother or sister who lost someone they loved to a war.
This caused many Americans to blame the soldiers who were fighting in a war for their country and the American flag. They were given no honor or respect for their service.
What I am trying to say is that it broke my heart to need a flashlight in order to see the names on The Wall since there were no lights shining in that direction.
Jim has been through two rounds of chemotherapy and stem-cell implants because of Agent Orange.
I have been informed that most all of the Vietnam veterans will be dead by 2015 due to Agent Orange.
We have two sons who we feel sure have serious health problems caused by Jim’s exposure to Agent Orange.
One of our sons has recently passed away, and our other son is very sick.
I believe that one day their sickness will be proved to be caused by this deadly chemical spray.
All I am asking is why the actual Wall cannot be lit up so we can see the names of those who sacrificed their lives for you and me.