For ceremonies on Memorial Day Weekend 2014, the New Mexico Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park’s guest speaker was Joe Galloway. Joe was a war correspondent in Vietnam who accompanied the 1st Battalion 7th Cavalry Regiment into Ia Drang for what became one of the most savage battles of the Vietnam War. He co-authored the best-selling books We Were Soldiers Once…And Young and We Are Soldiers Still with the commander of the 1st Battalion, LGEN Harold Moore.
Joe is a dynamic personality, completely at ease speaking his mind on Vietnam, foreign policy, the VA, and just about any other subject that might come up. His speech was unscripted and came from the heart. His words resonated with the audience, made up mostly of vets and their families, who interrupted him many times with applause, laughter and even several standing ovations. The line was long for veterans wanting a handshake and book signed by Joe Galloway.
Last year, we hosted Jack McLean, a former Marine rifleman and author of Loon, A Marine Story. He had the same kind of connection and reception from an appreciative audience. Jack and Joe have set the bar pretty high for speakers at this particular Memorial!
Joe is kept busy with speaking engagements. He is also one of the driving forces behind the national commemoration 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War which will take place in small towns and villages across the nation next year. The Vietnam vets will, at long last, be getting the parades they deserved years ago. http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/
A couple things that I picked up from Joe. He is proud of his association with the military of the United States. He loves service members. He wears his cavalry hat and Bronze Star with a V device (the only civilian so honored by the Army) with pride. At the same time, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone more vociferously anti-war than Joe Galloway. And I think that those two positions are linked.
I do not presume to put words in his mouth so read his books for yourself. His website is http://www.lzxray.com
As an aside, there is a great article in the Vietnam Veterans of America Magazine at http://vvaveteran.org/34-3/34-3_angelfire.html about this Memorial, the first Vietnam Memorial in the United States.