Mr. Dobel is right—as a society we act as if the war in Vietnam was just a nasty little mistake. This not only excuses those who, for a variety of good and evil reasons, unwarrantedly perpetuated that war; but, more important, it dishonors those who conscientiously served there and those who conscientiously refused to serve there. If there is any forgiving to be done, people in those two groups must lead the way; they alone know what such forgiveness might mean.
Mr. Dobel is also right in stating that Vietnam continues to lie uneasily on our national conscience. Our inability to explain why we were in Vietnam and why we stayed there indicates the moral limits of our political self-understanding. We simply lack the moral means to recognize and understand what we did there. But then it would be a mistake to single out Vietnam—have we recognized or understood any better what we did to the Indians or that we were a slave nation?