Bill McCloud, a Vietnam veteran who teaches U.S. history at Rogers State University in Oklahoma, recently wrote an op-ed in the Tulsa World on the extent of young people’s knowledge of the Vietnam War.
McCloud has a good feel for that subject. In 1987, when he was a junior high school teacher in Pryor, Oklahoma, the Army veteran conducted a survey to try to find out what his students knew about the war. (It wasn’t very much.)
That experience prompted McCloud to write letters to Vietnam veterans, former Vietnam War policymakers, historians, journalists, politicians, and others involved with the war asking them what they thought was the most important aspect of the war to teach young people.
He received a ton of replies from–among others–Presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, and from Vietnam War veteran writers Tim O’Brien, Larry Heinemann, John Clark Pratt, Philip Caputo, and The VVA Veteran‘s Arts Editor, Marc Leepson.
In 1989, McCloud put those responses in his book, What Should We Tell our Children About Vietnam ? It makes for fascinating reading even today, twenty-five years after it was published by the University of Oklahoma Press.