05/22/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT
I am 25 years old and ashamed that I had no idea the effect the Vietnam War had on so many people until I read your magazine. I sat and cried as I read about the innocent children who were so terribly hurt and the parents who lost children in such devastating ways. I'm keeping this issue to someday teach my two young children what it was really like during that time.
Misty Allmond, Houston
I was looking forward to relaxing with the latest issue of PEOPLE and getting lost in the soap opera lives of celebrities. Looking through the table of contents, I was disappointed to see that every article was on Vietnam. That is, until I started reading. Although I wasn't old enough to remember, my uncle was killed in that war when I was a month old. Your articles taught me more about the people and countries involved than any textbook ever could. It's one history lesson I won't forget.
Sharon Seed, Toledo, Ohio
If I had wanted a history lesson, I would have turned on the History Channel.
Joann Di, Woodbridge, Conn.
I think a better cover story would have been U.S. Veterans 25 Years Later. The most appalling statement was by the American official who, not surprisingly, was left nameless, saying, "We could rehabilitate all of the U.S. veterans still suffering from their memories of the war by having them spend two weeks in the country." My husband will never be rehabilitated. He lives every day with those memories, and two weeks in that country will never erase the memories of the men he lost when he was a platoon leader there. Shame on you!
Kelly Beauregard, East Hartford, Conn.
Not a word was mentioned of the soldiers who proudly served in that war. What about the homeless vets and the vets who mentally never came home? What about the disabled vets and the ones who still can't go to the Wall because it is emotionally too painful? Ask them if they care about Vietnamese models, high fashion and how Agent Orange affected the Vietnamese.
Michelle Reed, Columbiaville, Mich.
Every weekend I look forward to PEOPLE showing up in my mailbox because I get to go off duty from my job as wife and mother. It is my vacation from reality. This week I missed my vacation. Although I think your cover was important, when I get my PEOPLE, I expect mostly lighthearted stories or entertaining news about celebrities. Thank goodness next week's issue is back to the unimportant and obnoxious 50 Most Beautiful People.
Kristen Day, via e-mail
"American GIs loved the powder-soft sand and azure waters of China Beach, near Da Nang." Yeah, right. As far as your $190 per night "posh" resort is concerned, I believe I speak for the majority of GIs that were there: I wouldn't go back to Vietnam if you paid me $190 a night.
Walt Brown, Costa Mesa, Calif.
In February 1999 I returned to Vietnam, 30 years after my tour of duty with the United States Marines. My wife and I didn't know what to expect, but it was a journey I needed to make. I can honestly say that we have never been treated better. The people of Vietnam welcomed us. The country was beautiful. The shredded trees and bomb craters were gone. The countryside was at peace—the way it should have been 30 years ago.
Bob Chaney, Indianapolis
I have always found it sad that reporters continually neglect to let readers know that Van Lem, who was shot to death in 1968 by Saigon police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan, was a Viet Cong sniper who had recently killed one of Loan's friends. I do not condone the brutality of this shooting, but I feel readers need to know the context.
Dianne Van Voorhis, Los Gatos, Calif.
Now is the time to heal all wounds that came as a result of this tragic war in which I was a participant. I can now come to terms with the past.
Rudy Gutierrez, Laredo, Texas
The events leading up to the shooting of Van Lem have never been confirmed. There have been published reports, some attributed to photographer Eddie Adams, who took the picture, that a South Vietnamese police major and his family were murdered earlier that day. However, there is no concrete evidence linking Van Lem to such an attack. "I heard, according to several Air Force people and a CIA guy, that this guy had killed a major, who was a friend of General Loan's, and his whole family," Adams says. But, he adds, Loan never mentioned those murders as the rationale for his act. Rather, after the shooting, says Adams, "the general turned and looked right at us and said, 'They killed many of my men and many of your people.' Then he put his pistol in the holster and walked away."—ED