Looking Back at Tet

Tet01

My first visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., was — fittingly — at night. I came with a few colleagues; we ended up drifting away from one another as the black wall drew us in.

I was alone, looking for a name of a Marine mentioned in Michael Herr’s excellent book “Dispatches1” when some guy and I crossed paths. He glanced at me, stopped, and said simply, “John.” And I said, “Robert,” the first name of the Marine I was looking for. He reached out and we shook hands and he walked off into the night, leaving me with a sacred moment.

The Vietnam War haunts me as it does America. I read whatever I can about it and volunteer for graphics such as this one, a look at the Tet Offensive 50 years later. It ran in an April 2018 USA Today tabloid publication about the war.

The writing was the biggest challenge, I think. I was careful to explain the context of the offensive, how it was a military victory but a public relations loss from which the Johnson administration never recovered.

This graphic was well-received and was resurrected in October for another USAT publication.


1 — I later discovered the Marine I was looking for, Robert Mayhew, was a composite character created by Herr, based on several soldiers he met while covering the war for Esquire. Curiously, there was a Sgt. Robert Olan Mayhew from Elk Garden, W. Va., who was KIA in Vietnam on Feb. 8, 1969. Sometimes I think about writing about him.

 

This entry was posted in Graphics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s