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Two Decades Later, the Vietnam War Is Still a Hot Topic : History: The shooting has stopped, but there's enough residual interest in the conflict to sustain a glossy magazine.

September 15, 1994|KENTON ROBINSON | THE HARTFORD COURANT

Summers says the magazine is putting the war into perspective, something that Summers himself has a lot of. He's a veteran of Korea and Vietnam. He was one of the last men off the U.S. embassy roof when Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975. He has also written a number of books, including "On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War."

"One of the characteristics of the Vietnam generation is the lack of historical perspective," he says. "I mean the baby boomer is sort of like the Christmas goose: They wake up in a new world every morning and think that the world began with them.

"We try to give some perspective to the Vietnam experience, because in my own view that's what the Vietnam vet needs more than anything else."

Phillips puts it another way: Vietnam magazine is about healing.

Once people understand what American soldiers went through in Vietnam, he says, they see them in a different light.

"We had a woman call in here who wanted us to publish a letter of hers. Now this has happened more times than once, but this one particular woman I'll never forget. She said, 'Back in the '60s I was one of those people who spit on the soldier that came back and called him a baby killer and a murderer. But after reading your magazine and seeing what he went through, I want to apologize to the soldier.' "

And the magazine, Phillips says, is a long-overdue tribute to that soldier.

"The average Vietnam soldier went over there for one reason and one reason only. He went over there because of Mom and apple pie, the whole nine yards, you know what I mean? Because he loved his country and he believed that his country was sending him over there for a reason, and that was to win a war. And he came back and did not receive the recognition he should have.

"The Vietnam War will go down in history as a loss, but I can tell you one thing, this boy doesn't think that the Vietnam soldier lost the war."

* A one-year subscription to Vietnam costs $15.95. You can subscribe by calling (800) 435-9610.

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