On Veteran’s Day, I spoke to the middle schoolers at Quest Academy in Palatine, Illinois about my research on veterans and peace. It was great to be back at my alma mater and spend time with the 80 or so students. Despite the snowstorm happening outside, the students were really engaged and had some interesting questions about the work being done in Vietnam, particularly with the remediation of the Da Nang Airport.
I was pleased to find out that the students already knew a little about the Vietnam War, since it’s so rarely taught in schools these days. Young people’s lack of knowledge about the war and its consequences is one of the reasons I decided to write this book. As the philosopher George Santayana wrote, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Already, we are seeing the effects of this amnesia. Gallup has found that young people are the only group of Americans today that think fighting in Vietnam was not a mistake. I am hopeful, however, that young people like myself can help teach the past to those to young to have lived it.