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Include Vietnam Vets in Gulf Celebrations

Regarding the article ``Planning for Gulf GIs' Homecoming,'' Feb. 12: What a great opportunity to include Vietnam veterans who received no welcome and such shameful treatment when they returned home. The framework for such expressions of regard is fast taking shape for the returning Gulf GIs, and recognition of the Vietnam veterans' service to their country could easily be included, even though so late. There are many citizens who would be grateful for this opportunity to right such a grievous wrong, and I can't imagine that the Gulf GIs would object to marching, celebrating, and reminiscing together. Public applause belongs to both groups.

H.I. deBeer, Bronxville, N.Y.

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The article repeats the common misconception that the Vietnam war was ``a fight for ill-defined objectives.'' Our central objective was clear at the outset: to stop the spread of communism. We seem to forget today that the Vietnam war, in its early stages, had strong support from the American people.

Fortunately, the US now has a firm, established defense policy that it does not introduce its troops into combat unless it intends to win. Had President Johnson prosecuted the Vietnam war the way George Bush has prosecuted the Persian Gulf war - with a comprehensive, sustained air campaign at the beginning - the forces would almost certainly have achieved victory, with far fewer casualties on both sides. And our troops would probably have come home to a heroes' welcome.

Also mentioned is another popular misconception: that we need to support our troops in the Gulf, whether we agree with why they are there or not. This doesn't wash. We can't support our troops and oppose the war, any more than we can support the players on a football team and oppose the game.

Jim Hastings, Boston

Supporting the troops In the article ``Veteran `Brothers' Face Up to War,'' Feb. 12, the co-founder of the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans says: ``There's no way you can protest the war, and support the troops. It's a contradiction.'' No, it isn't.

One can be totally against the war, against killing, against our government's actions and policies, and still support the troops and want them to be OK physically, mentally, and emotionally.

All life is sacred; no life is worth more or less than another. I cherish the lives of all those in the Gulf region: American, Iraqi, Saudi, Kuwaiti, Egyptian, Kurdish, French, Israeli, Palestinian, Iranian, British, Syrian, Jordanian, Turkish, and all others. I work, hope, and pray for all my sisters and brothers in the Gulf.

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Donna Bartell, Amherst, Mass.

House Foreign Affairs chair Due to an editing error, a Feb. 20 opinion-page article by Rep. Lee H. Hamilton (D) of Indiana incorrectly identified the author as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The committee's chairman is Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D) of Florida.

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