“Goodnight Saigon” – “Stolen Valor”

Stolen Valor HIST

Stolen Valor, written by B. G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley, was written to describe, “How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of its Heros and its History.” Burkett came from a military family and always planned on joining the military. Burkett served in Vietnam in 1968, and separates this book into four parts: “The Image”, “Trauma of War”, “Stolen Valor”, and “Victims and Heros”.

In the section titled “The Image” Burkett shares some of his experiences upon returning home from the war. One of the prominent experiences Burkett had was in graduate school at the University of Tennessee. Burkett’s teacher required that the students call upon their past experiences to illustrate how they were required to preform business management type activities, but the teacher banned the use of the Vietnam War as a past experience. Burkett writes, “I had managed large groups of men and organized a complex system of ordnance inventory under very difficult and changing conditions, but in the eyes of this arrogant professor, that counted for nothing.” (Burkett, 36) This instance shows how wide spread the anti-war movement was. It was not only hippies parading the streets, but the hated for the war spread to academics and altered professor’s assignments. This instance also showed how a soldier did not have to be spat on to feel angry and disconnected with the American society.

Burkett then counters this experience with his experience with organizations that favored Vietnam Vets over civilians. Burkett interviewed with a company named Electronic Data Systems, owned by a US Naval Academy graduate, where Burkett was criticized for not being “Enough of a Vietnam Vet” because many of the other employees served longer tours, and the company was run like the military. (Burkett, 39) Burkett also pointed out that airline companies such as American and Southwest airlines. “When you boarded a Southwest Airlines plane in the seventies, the pilot likely had been making bombing runs on North Vietnam two years before.” (Burkett, 39)

Burkett, B. G., and Glenna Whitley. Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History. Dallas: Verity Press, 1998.

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