Simplicity is the best approach

Milford’s war monuments are all simple and respectful, and we believe all future monuments should be too.

So we agree with Vietnam War veteran Rodney Richey’s assessment that the proposal for a Vietnam War memorial would be best as, in his words, “a simple granite memorial and bench.”

There are two memorials planned – one for Vietnam and one for 9/11 and the global war on terror that followed. We agree with those who say the plans as shown on the town website are both too elaborate.

At the recent budget hearing, Richey said the Vietnam memorial seems to glorify a conflict that “was one of the worst we ever participated in. It started on a lie and continued on a lie” and cost lives and money.

Argue with that if you wish, but it’s hard to argue with the wish for simplicity. It would be in keeping with the other monuments in Milford, none of which glorify war but, instead, honor the men and women involved in them.

Selectmen want more local veterans to weigh in and they should – veterans and their families should voice their opinions about memorials that will be permanent structures on Elm Street.

We agree. The Vietnam War, by any estimation, was a disaster, one that grew from a handful of advisers to a conflict that caused the death of more than 58,000 Americans and which ended in the mid 1970s the same way it could have ended in the early 1960s – with Ho Chi Minh and the Communists taking control of South Vietnam – the very outcome we had pledged to block with our advisers and then our armed forces.

The war did not bring our nation honor but the men and women who fought over there deserve our honor and respect, just as we honor and respect those who battled in Korea and Europe, Asia and Africa, and, in the Civil War, Pennsylvania and Virginia. They did not cause the wars. They just did their duty.

Those who did so in Vietnam deserve a solemn monument. When wars start, they might appear to be glorious crusades – flags waving, bands playing, crowds cheering – but when they end, what those who fought and were lucky enough to come home know is that there was nothing glorious about them.

Our monuments are there to help us remember, but they are not there to glorify.

There are two articles on the town warrant this year asking voters to allow the Vietnam memorial committee to raise funds for memorials at the east entrance to Keyes Park.

We hope those who care about this issue come to the Feb. 2 town Deliberative Session and let town officials know how they feel.