Written By Ray Voith
Ray Voith invites everyone who came of age during the Vietnam War to share their stories of that tumultuous period. You can do so by contacting him through his website or by emailing him email@example.com.
The Asian-inspired fieldstone seminary at Maryknoll, a hill on the outskirts of Ossining, N.Y. (Ɱ, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)
I entered Maryknoll Seminary in 1959 as a junior in high school. Maryknoll was training ground for men studying to be Catholic foreign missionary priests. Some seminarians completed their studies and became priests. Others left for alternate careers.
I was one of those who left (in January 1964). Another who left was Ray Gleason. The Army drafted him and sent him to Vietnam. He was a career soldiers and wrote several books, including The Violent Season and A Grunt Speaks: A ‘Devil’s Dictionary of Vietnam Infantry Tales & Terms. I reviewed The Violent Season and highly recommend it.
After reading that book and watching the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary, I decided to poll people on my website address list (600+ people) about their experiences in the war years.
When I started the webpage, I made it clear that we are looking for healing and understanding of others’ points if view, no matter how strongly we may disagree with each other.
The purpose is to listen to each other and have dialog. We want to avoid judging others. We want to try to understand and maybe mend.
I received over 30 responses. Some were combatants, some not. Some were objectors. I included my own reminiscence of the war years.
Michael Wilson shares his story of being a rookie police officer in Washington, DC, tasked with breaking up illegal protests. His submission contains what I consider to be an excellent commentary on the Vietnam war.
Someone else tells the story of future Republic of Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem’s stay at Maryknoll in the early 1950s.
We also have links to videos and music like John Prine’s “Sam Stone” about an injured soldier leaving Vietnam with a morphine addiction “with a purple heart and a monkey on his back.”
Famous Vietnam Marine Bill Ehrhart gives a memorable 15-minute explanation of his time in country.
You can find these and other stories on my website.
Check out the yellow menu tabs at the top of the website for material.
I hope these stories and links help you in some way, no matter what your own experiences were.
To make a submission, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or click on the right side of the yellow menu strip where it says: “Contact me/Feedback”