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Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 9, 1987
Dear Editor: It's been about a month now since my family sent me a clipping of the Gary Ryther story and his vision of a local memorial for Tri-Lakes veterans killed or missing-in-action from the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Time enough for me to write this; to reach out to other veterans, to my family, and to the community I grew up in and express my thoughts and feelings on this one man's vision. I am a product from your environment.
Saranac Lake was my world and my home for my first 20 years. Life after 20 forever changed, after 3 years in the Army and a 12-month tour in Vietnam' as an infantry officer.
It was a long war over there, but even a longer war to come back, over here. Many of us have not come home yet. . .
It has taken the nation a long time to separate the warrior from the war. Even this year, showbiz attempts to cinematically depict the Vietnam War with grunt-level reality (films like Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Hamburger Hill) have done it again, they have reinforced the public's old stereotype image of a Vietnam veteran. We come off, as before, (Rambo, Deer Hunter, etc.) as mentally deranged, substance abusing, morally degenerate" soldiers of misfortune.
Don't forget, America, we were' once your 18- to 21-year-old sons. A few of us were fortunate enough to grow up in the protected and peaceful environment of the Adirondacks. We came from good stock, imprinted with strong beliefs and values for the land and for all humanity. When called, we served; in Vietnam we saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and touched the horrors of man's darkest side. Yes, it was painful; we came back crippled physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Once back, we found ourselves in a different war . . . a war of indifference. Over 58,000 of us didn't make it to DEROS; since 1975, double that number have checked out the route of suicide or substance abuse.
As Gary Ryther stated, I, too, have a belief that I have a thing or two to be doing in this life . . . I want to see this memorial become a reality. Here is my $100 toward the Tri-Lakes Korean-Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Fund.
This monument will help in the healing of the living as much as it will honor the dead. Steve Mason, another Nam vet has said it best, "as veterans and fathers, it is not enough to memorialize our sacrifice, we must monumentalize our legacy . . . limited war is futile, nuclear war is impossible. Peace is our only alternative.
James E. Doyle 16725 N.E. 5th PL Bellevue, Washington