V&V Q&A: “Our Vietnam Veterans Were Cheated”—Teaching the Truth About Vietnam … A Conversation with Charlie Wiley

Editor’s Note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. This latest edition of “V&V Q&A” is an intriguing look at media coverage during the Vietnam War with longtime journalist Charles Wiley. Wiley is a veteran reporter who has been lecturing about journalism and other subjects for many years. He is currently involved in Home with Honor—a project about the home front in the United States during the Vietnam War. 

Vision & Values (V&V): Charlie, some people have asked you why you’re bringing up “sad events” that happened so long ago. They’ve told you that the Vietnam War is a “shameful” episode in U.S. history that is better forgotten. Why not leave such events alone?

Charles Wiley (CW):  Because the Vietnam War had a very powerful influence on U.S. foreign and military policies for decades. But more important, the American psyche and our self-image have been severely damaged by a totally false picture of what happened.

V&V: What false picture?

CW: Virtually everything that most people think happened here in the United

States during Vietnam didn’t actually happen. As a consequence, subsequent “history” about the period is simply wrong.

V&V:  That seems like a big claim to make.

CW:  It is a big claim to make. But I’m not stupid enough to say something that seems to be so outlandish if I can’t prove it without a doubt. Everything I say is completely authenticated at the Home with Honor project website.

V&V: What sorts of things are you talking about?

CW:  We’ve taught two generations that the American people were unkind to our sons and daughters who served our nation in Vietnam.

And that’s what nearly everyone believes. But it isn’t true.

Opposition to the Vietnam War was widely known and there was almost no indication of public support for our troops. This picture has been taught as history ever since.

And that’s what nearly everyone believes. But that’s not what happened.

It has been widely proclaimed that there was no big homecoming parade, as occurred

after World Wars I and II. And that’s what nearly everyone believes. But it’s nonsense.

V&V:  That seems like a lot of people to prove wrong.

CW:  No problem. Those who look at our website quickly become believers.

V&V: It certainly sounds like an interesting project. Are you finding that those in the military and academia are supportive of Home with Honor?

CW: Absolutely—especially when they see the documentation. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Roy Campbell said: “While teaching military history at the United States Military Academy at West Point … my faculty colleagues and I often lamented the abysmal historical accuracy of most accounts of the Vietnam War. This [project] corrects the wayward historical record that had been promulgated.”

We’ve received support from many scholars as well. Dr. Wesley Wynne, a psychology professor from Sul Ross State University, was one of our earliest supporters. He told me: “No one will ever know how much harm was done to the American psyche—especially to those who served in Vietnam—because of the negative picture that was consistently projected during and after the war. Many lives have surely been negatively impacted by the failure to acknowledge a simple truth: Vietnam veterans were welcomed home by all but a pathetic tiny minority of people.”

V&V:  Exactly what are you trying to accomplish? What is the goal of the Home with Honor project?

CW:  Our aim is to correct the history books—while conclusively affirming the

crucial need for objective news reporting. We want to reach the news media, historians, veterans, social activists—everyone.

It’s long past the time to correct the false history about our Vietnam veterans and

the American people.

It’s time that everyone knows the truth.

V&V:  It is indeed. The website is beautiful, Charlie. We strongly urge our readers to click it and share it with others, especially those with family members who were Vietnam vets and who were cheated or dishonored. Great work, Charlie. Thank you.

Home with Honor project

Note: Charles Wiley can be reached at [email protected].