Dear Dr. Helfant.
O.K., you've made your point. I've read three
pages and one paragraph of the open letter, am in
tears and may not finish reading it. My kid
brother just capped four years of hard, hard
work by graduating with honors from Cal. Tech. His
draft board rewarded him by reclassifying him to
1A, and his lottery number is 140 or thereabouts.
It doesn't much matter, does it? I'm scared
----less. About -----, and because, for sure,
someone is going to protect Nixon's fragile ego
and he'll never see your letter.
p.s. What's David Eisenhower's number?
I've just read LOOK Magazine which carried the
letter you sent to President Nixon. To say that I
was deeply moved is most inadequate. I think that
by the manner in which you wrote your story, with
dignity, sincerity, and the truth as you saw it,
you have performed the greatest service for
humanity at this time; for so often I feel that
the greatest crime is that of silence.
I have an eleven year old son who is extremely
bright and talented and I know that someday he
will serve humanity in a constructive way. I also
know that I could never in good conscience send
him off to fight this intolerable war, to destroy
and be destroyed.
I pray that your letter and the pictures will
reach that unreachable man and that he will bring
every American boy home immediately so that they
too can serve our nation in a more constructie
My family and I hope that God will give you the
strength and good health to continue to serve your
fellow men as a great human being and doctor.
Dear Doctor Helfant,
Thank you for your "Letter to the President," LOOK
Magazine, July 28, 1970. As a nurse, (St. X's
Hospital, X, Mass. '52), I can appreciate your
anguish as wall as share in it. You see, I don't
practice my trade these days, at least not for
pay. But a few hours of volunteer service at a
local V.A. Hospital seemed the least I could do
these kids who have lost so much.
I found to my dismay that even for me, an "old
hand" with three years of surgical intensive care
nursing in the background, this labor of love was
too much to bear. How could I answer the
nineteen-year old triple amputee who asked if I
thought it was "worth it?" What to say to the
twenty-year old wife whose husband has come home
to her a vegetable? What do you say to a boy who
was going to be a painter, another Gainsborough,
as he puts it, who is blind because he stepped too
close to a "Claymore" mine? How do you hold back
the tears when an eighteen-year old paraplegic
shows you his Bronze Star, carefully mounted in
the same frame with his high school track medals?
How do you keep from screaming when the V.A.
administrator gives a seminar on the wonderful
advances we've made in traumatic surgery because
of the Vietnam War?
If I had my way every single member of the
Legislative and Executive branches of our
government would be required to spend a few weeks
in the Hell of a V.A. or Military Hospital just to
see, first hand, the terrible cost of this
senseless egocentric war. And what of the
children, Vietnamese and Cambodian, ... napalmed,
bombed, orphaned? Please forgive the emotionalism,
but perhaps it is a time for good, honest
emotion... Even Korea, terrible as it was, made
some kind of sense ... (perhaps because we didn't
say "save" so many for such a dubious future...?)
After I finish this I'm going to put my uniform on
and go back to the hospital to make every one I
meet aware of the real horror of this war... The
trouble is I don't think the average citizen
really comprehends the extent of the damage we are
doing... alienating our children, wasting our
resources, destroying human live, and perpetuating
a machine of death...
I stood on the steps of our nation's Capitol on
the 5th of May, with 1,000 women; members of the
League of Women Voters who abandoned their
National Convention to stand in silent protest
against the war and the deaths of four Kent State
students... We have written letters, visited our
Congressmen, pleaded with the President... and
still, the war goes on... What do we do now? How
do we answer our sons who ask if the "have to go
and kill and die?" How do we end it? Maybe more
letters like yours; letters of substance... (I'm
sorry LOOK edited your pictures... That is what
must be seen by the American people... they must
be made to see and understand the full extent of
Thank you for trying, Doctor, and I hope you never
forget the things you have seen. That's what's
wrong with us all, we forget too easily... Bless
you for your efforts, and don't give up... If your
pictures could be made available to CBS News, Mike
Wallace on "60 Minutes," David Brinkley at NBC and
perhaps, most important, Senator McGovern...
perhaps you can end it...
Most sincerely yours,
Lois Alden, R.N.
Just finished your "Letter to the President" in
It was wonderful - - but sad. My only hope is that
millions will read it - and understand. Once I
heard (or read) a quote from a talk given by a
minister (during his Sunday sermon). He said "We
are becoming so used to violence - we are becoming
insensitve. As an example I quote from a
letter a woman wrote to her daughter, 'Your father
and I don't go out much or do much. Last night we
had an early dinner, watched the war a while on TV
and retired early.'" And the minister said "My
God, have we become so callous we 'look at the war
on TV' before retiring?"
I'm afraid you will get HATE MAIL on your letter
so know we are thinking well of you.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I just read your letter in LOOK Magazine and I
want to tell you from the depths of my heart, God
Bless You and thanks, thanks, thanks. What you did
is so important. Please don't stop. Keep telling
the world. Everyone just ignores this war.
Everyone just forgets the wounded, the suffering,
You probably are wondering if I personally have
been to Vietnam or have a relative there. The
important point is that I have not and do not have
anyone close there, but I believe we should all
care and have enough imagination to realize that
the human suffering is incredible and for nothing.
I believe this war is a sinful thing.
I believe you have made one of the greatest
contributions you could ever make to suffering
humanity by printing that letter and those
I try never to listen to stories of operations,
etc., and read your letter so that I may further
know the need to work to end this nightmare of a
For your records I am 47, female, married 28
years, a college graduate and in the above $10,000
Thank you again and again,
Dear Doctor Helfant:
Wounded veterans owe you a debt of gratitude for
your courage in writing "A Letter to the
President" as it may help the efforts to improve
the hospitals. And certainly it should make more
people realize the ghastly cost of the Vietnam
mistake. I'm sure it was terribly hard to write
and publish this shattering article but truly it
cannot but have a great impact on the public.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing this letter and addressing it to LOOK
Magazine in the hope that it will somehow reach
Dr. Murray H. Helfant (A Letter to the President,
July 28, 1970).
My younger brother Edward was wounded in the
non-war in Vietnam and evacuated to the 249th
General Hospital in Japan. By some strange twist
of fate, more likely the will of God, his injury
was not as severe as those shown in Dr. Helfant's
letter. I am sure my parents and my brothers and
sisters and myself have experienced the gravest
mental anguish wondering if he would live or die
in that hospital so many thousands of miles away
from home. Edward did recover and was sent home to
the most joyous celebration of our lives. He is
now serving his final six months in ----- --, ---
---, training more men to fight. The US Army does
indeed work in strange ways.
You, Doctor Helfant, may not be the man who
operated on my brother, but perhaps if I say this
to you the message will be felt by the doctor who
did put Edward back together. Thank you for
helping my brother live. I wish I could show you
my parents' tears of joy or my younger brothers'
grins of delight when they saw him home once
again. Maybe that would help erase your memory of
the boys who didn't make out as well as Edward.
God bless those beautifully skilled hands.
Very truly yours,
Thank you for publishing the heartbreaking letter
of Dr Helfant's, and Dear Dr. Helfant - thank you
for writing a most factual, truthful and
articulate letter for the "silent majority" -
I cried - my husband cried - my children cried -
It is doubtful that Nixon and Agnew and entourage
LOOK - please keep publishing these horror stories
Maybe it will help the "silent majority" become
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I have just read the recent article in LOOK that
was printed on your behalf.
God bless you,
Recent college graduate
I feel an impact from your letter to the president
that says it must have come through the editors
pretty much intact.
You caught a hurricane's eye and held it - perhaps
with the result that whoever reads your letter
will find parts of it stirring them to creative
Peace-making, be they professor or manufacturer or
But also - it was real ... enough to be out of the
pitfalls of my opinion versus your opinion. Thank
you for the effort you expended anticipating our
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I have just struggled through looking at the
pictures and reading your fantastic courageous
letter in the current edition of LOOK.
I only hope that yur letters of approval and
encouragement outnumber any criticism you may
Perhaps this kind of shock treatment is what is
needed to rock some of the silent majority off
their proverbial butts.
Your article as a follow-up to the Life Magazine
article "Assignment to Neglect" I hope will help
to do this.
I agree with your letter wholeheartedly and admire
your guts and determination on speaking out.
Perhaps you should run for public office and help
Congress change its thinking.
We'll tell our friends in Massachusetts to watch
for your candidacy. Again our small thanks and
admiration for speaking out.
Dear Dr. Helfant:
What a poignantly wonderful article your Letter to
the President is. I can only hope he will read it
and be moved to get us out of Indo-China fast.
Instead of considering all or us who urge this
During the war I was not a pacifist - perhaps
having three sons and my son-in-law all in the
service made me unaware of the wickedness of war.
Right afterwards I worked as a volunteer at XXXXXX
General Hospital in XXXXX. Seeing the broken
bodies, the blind, the plastics and the amputees
made me leave the Episcopal Church and become a
Quaker. This personal history of a
great-grandmother as I am now - is not interesting
for you, but I think it points up the fact that
seeing the results of war makes pacifists fast. A
few people in ---- objected to the plastics coming
to restaurants as the sight spoiled the appetite
of the complainers. This made me furious.
I am glad you are again a civilian where you can
say and write the truth about this wicked tragic
war, and I hope that soon the terrible memories
will not haunt you so constantly. I wish you
health and happiness in your much needed
Sincerely, with admiration,
Dear Doctor Helfant,
How does one begin to express the incredible surge
of emotions you have triggered in your letter to
Mr. Nixon? I felt a huge longing to DO SOMETHING -
but what? Where do I begin? --- and I wire and
write our assorted "elected representative,"
including our infamous President - I hope we have
planted gentler seeds of thought and action in the
three sons we are so lucky to have. I am not a
religious person - yet I "pray" that my oldest
son, not in the "service," lives his life unmaimed
in mind, body, heart and soul - as I wish all
mothers' sons in this world could live.
This letter certainly doesn't say what I feel - I
really meant to thank you for all your labours of
love to those who were under your care - your
skill and concern were not, will never be, wasted
Thank you for your open letter to Mr. Nixon - I
hope he will feel s shocked and anguished as I did
- and that he will be spurred into immediate
corrective action to stop this deplorable maiming
and murdering now!
With best wishes to you and yours for a peaceful
and happy future.
I have just finished reading your "Letter" in LOOK
magazine. I want to thank you for saying what had
to be said and for saying it so well.
My love to your family,
What a marvelous letter in LOOK!! I'm proud to
I'm also sorry I missed you when you visited Xxxx
the other day - maybe I'll see you at her wedding?
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I was shocked out of my complacency by your
"Letter to the President"! I should be read by
every American as th4e definitive document on the
horror of war. It has done more to awaken me to
the truth than all the newsprint, television tape
and commentary extant.
May God grant you the health and strength to heal
men, the courage to continue to speak our against
the unspeakable, and the comfort and solace of
knowing that one person can to the impossible - to
open the eyes of the world to the truth.
Please continue to inform the world about the
human "living lost" who are merely looked upon as
The pain and shock accompanying the impact of the
photographs will not leave me for a long time yet.
I'm glad of the awakening. ---, my son, whose
nightly nightmares revolve around his fear of
"going to Vietnam" will never wear the uniform of
an American soldier if I have anything to say
about it!! If a world of peace is not his to grow
up in I will leave The United Sates. We'd better
work fast for peace - he's already ten years old.
I read your Letter to the President that was
printed in LOOK Magazine. It was a heart-breaking
letter, and I cried when I saw pictures of some or
your patients. After reading your letter I was
thankful that my brother didn't have to suffer the
pain that some of your patients did.
It's been a little over two months now since my
brother was killed in Vietnam. That was his second
time over there. You see, my brother was a career
soldier. The first time he was with the "1st
Cavalry Division (Airmobile)" and this last time
with the "101st Airborne Division."
I do believe that he believed in what he ws
fighting for. I pray to God that this non-war is
soon over, and that all our boys will be coming
home to their families. Until then, Doctor, have
faith in this country of yours, and in the men
fighting there to keep it free as well as those
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I was fixing lunch today when I received my copy
or LOOK. I'm so grateful that I had finished
eating when I came to the pages carrying your
article and photographs. And, according to the
editor, more "vivid" pictures were deliberately
God bless you, Dr. Helfant, for having the guts to
write that open letter and God bless you even more
for publishing those photographs.
My God, when will these mutilations and butchery
of American lives end?
You know something? I'm not even an American. I'm
as Oriental as a Viet-Cong. This is my first
"cause" letter. Your pictures of mangled American
bodies ignited the flame of my desire to be known
as one of those opposed to the Vietnam War.
I am married to a marine who has been in Vietnam.
And even though my husband has never shared my
philosophy, I have always felt that it is idiotic
to send American men to engage in combat in
If the South Vietnamese had the slightest ounce of
determination to fight for their own existence
they would at lest try to lessen their activities
in the field of graft and corruption in which they
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Your letter and pictures are important. The
President must see these as must every American
The LOOK issue yesterday brought so many thoughts
and visions back to me. I worked in the
Specialized Treatment Center at Fort Xxxx, Xxxx,
(on the Red Cross staff) when the build-up in
casualties were beginning to return four years
What a price all these men have paid - and no one
knows for what reason.
The lead editorial in this morning's paper gave me
hope that others will be similarly moved by your
article - hopefully to action against this
My bit is little - but I also can influence others
as an individual and as a Mother for Peace.
Thank you for your ideas which have given me
renewed encouragement concerning the wrongs of
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Murray H. Helfant,
I thank you for your letter to the President
published in LOOK. I lost my lunch after reading
it and I hope millions of other U.S. citizens do
the same. That's the least we can do.
My husband graduated from XX University this June
and will begin secondary teaching this fall. The
draft was on his tail and we planned to spend the
next four years with the Air Force. Bob passed his
Air Force physical and then four weeks later
flunked his Army physical for a minor shoulder
injury that he received six years ago.
I am happy, glad, over-joyed he flunked his
physical - it's not that I don't want to be a bad
citizen nor do I want Bob to be a bad citizen. He
was raised in a military family and would have
But I thank God his picture won't be taken lying
on a bed in a hospital in Japan. I wish the
families of these poor men would cry out. I wish
that damned war would end.
I think your letter will make a lot of people push
a little harder to end this war.
I thank you! You are fabulous to print what people
don't want to see - and our leaders haven't
bothered to see.
Thank you for the courage, interest, integrity and
compassion it took to write "A Letter to the
President," LOOK, July 28, 1970. We are very proud
of you, your work, and LOOK for not remaining
I watched the TV Special about "Charlie Company."
The next day I read your "Letter" in the LOOK
Magazine. I guess it was this "double exposure" of
the Vietnam War that prompts me to write for the
first time to a magazine contributor.
Now, Doctor, let's admit wars are getting better
all the time! Well can many of use remember during
World War II when farmers and "defense" workers
were making big money, while the G.I.'s had
earnings much smaller than you could imagine, but
really life was tough for the civilians in that
war! They went through rationing of their food, no
new appliances, gas and tire rationing - oh, you
can't believe how grim life was for those "at
home"!! Truly often one couldn't buy their
favorite brand of soap or even candy bars as the
army had first choice. Rough?
But now this time - while our best young men are
having long camp-outs in the warm, sunny jungles,
seeing new country they never heard of until
recently, being waited on hand and foot, (if they
have them) in "luxury" hospitals, getting away
from it all - in prison camps, etc. etc. We at
least can eat the same foods this time and all we
have to give up is some extra tax money. Yeah,
this war is much better for us civilians and after
all there are more of us than fighting men.
But you mentioned that the "winning/" of the war
didn't always seem so cheery to these unfortunate
men. Well, we won World Wars I and II and I'll
wager that those men still in hospitals since
those Victories get man jolly hours remembering
(if they can) how sweet is Victory! But if Victory
isn't reward enough, we can help by always
greeting these mutilated men (or their families if
the men can't respond) by reminding them "How
lucky your are. How lucky you are you weren't hurt
worse! How lucky you're alive. My Goodness, you
could have been killed."
Well, I'll take my tongue out of my cheek and
write seriously. In an airport we saw a wounded
soldier with a cost on his stub of a foot with WAR
IS HELL printed across the instep! Later in an
army hospital I saw that War is Hellier for those
who have no foot for a cast for a slogan!!
If by chance, you have not read these enclosed
clippings before, I'm sure they will strike a
responsive cord in your heart.
Thanks for reminding us and the Pres. Of what this
War is costing the "cream of the crop" of men and
their loved ones.
Thanks for helping them and my sympathy in your
concern for those without hope.
Dear Major Helfant,
I am writing you in care of LOOK Magazine since I
am not certain you are still in Boston,
Of all the photographs and articles I have read
concerning the senseless horror of the war in
Vietnam, your letter to Nixon in the July 28, 1970
issue of LOOK was the most important since it
illustrated with ghastly clarity the cost of that
America has sent its best young men to die in
Vietnam, or to become irreparably wounded from
that war. Articles such as yours show clearly the
price some of these men have paid for their
As someone not in the medical field I have never
seen wounds of the kind you describe and show in
photographs. I shall never forget them. Did the
men shown survive, if that is the word, or perish,
especially since the wounds were so horrible? Did
the hospital in which you served treat any
I hope that you sent copies of all the photographs
you took and your letter to President Richard M,
Nixon, Secretary Melvin Laird, Secretary Stanley
Resor, and other Pentagon officials, as well as
every member of Congress. Your information, widely
disseminated, will do more to end the war in
Vietnam that is a real wound on the entire body
politic of America, than all the anti-war
demonstrations, many of which I have participated
in over the past years.
Truly the body of pity lies bleeding. Yet men of
good will are blinded by their insensitivity and
only through efforts such s yours will they
realize the price of war. I thank you from a
sorely troubled heart.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I have just finished reading your article in the
LOOK Magazine and want to congratulate you on a
superb (but heartbreaking) piece of writing.
I sincerely hope that it will open everyone's eyes
and that something can be accomplished from it.
You deserve a lot of credit for having the
gumption and courage to write it.
I also want to express my sincere thanks to you
for the more than excellent operation you did on
my back: I feel like a new person.
Dear Doctor Helfant:
Thank you for the fine letter that had to be
written. I am glad a man of your background
and training wrote it.
Surely compassion and intellect are a great
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I read your letter in the July issue of LOOK
Magazine and I couldn't help but feel shocked and
dismayed at the injuries our men have suffered. We
Americans have a habit of going through our daily
routines, somehow keeping ourselves numb from the
realities of this war.
We see pictures of our men fighting in Vietnam and
Cambodia and read the casualty statistics and
somehow manage to rise above it all unless it
touches us personally.
My husband is a career NCO in the Air Force, now
serving again in South East Asia. I've always had
great pride in him and his career.
I've worked for four months with the National
League of Families of prisoners of War in South
East Asia. I've seen first-hand the anguish these
wives and their children suffer. I've tried in my
own way to help their cause.
But I still felt our country was right to remain
in South East Asia at all costs.
But down inside I've known this war is wrong,
And because it's gone on for so many years, I have
o guarantee that my sons won't have to fight it
when they reach draft age. Your letter and the
pictures brought the horror of this war so clearly
into focus. I have to commend your courage to
speak out and let people see reality, not just
statistics on the 6 o'clock news.
Let's pray that all Americans will be as shocked
as I was and perhaps to be outraged enough to
demand an end to this waste of human life and
It's time we demand peace, a time when men will
not have to suffer as these brave men have done.
Surely if can spend millions to reach the moon,
the we have the means to insure the security of
our country without sacrificing our husbands,
fathers and sons.
I would like to thank you for writing your
concerned and compassionate article.
Dear Murray H. Helfant,
I just read your letter you wrote in LOOK Magazine
to Mr. Nixon. Just reading your Letter made me
feel sick. I would hate to be the parents or
brothers or sisters of the people hurt in the
pictures you showed us in your letter. I am very
glad you wrote this Letter to the President, to
show him and others how people suffer and all
people do not live in luxury.
Dear Dr. Helfant.
The impact of your article was such that I find it
very difficult to express how deeply I feel. You
not only opened my eyes to what horrible things
are happening but you made me see these things.
Perhaps the Moratorium would have had more of an
effect on our President if all the injured
soldiers were paraded in front of the White House
instead of healthy normal people who had two arms,
legs, eyes, etc. It's easier to ignore a healthy
human being than one who is deformed, injured.
Please don't stop making people realize how
precious a human life is regardless what he
believes, where he comes from, etc. A human life
is so beautiful but so very sad when it has been
all torn apart.
This is my second letter I have ever written in
connection with anything of any real importance.
The first letter was written to President Nixon as
a result of your article.
Thank you for opening my eyes and I pray I will
never forget your letter or your pictures.
Very truly yours,
Dear Murray Helfant,
Having just completed your "Letter to the
President" in LOOK Magazine I felt an enormous
urge to congratulate you on many levels. However,
I'll only name a few.
For having the "guts," if you will, for getting
all you know (partially) on paper where people
could read of what you know. Of course there was a
great deal more that you could not, would not, or
in the name of good taste, for the publisher, left
Unfortunately, being a pessimist, people will read
this (not all) and say, "Well, that's war." But
how long will they, and I must include the
government, recall that we are losing and maiming
men in a war that is an undeclared war.
The more I read, the more I understand we could
end this insanity and bring the troops home, en
masse, pronto! To hell with losing face. The
people in South East Asia could go on farming
their lands, instead of being killed on all sides.
I also include our own men killing their own men -
on night patrols at the sound of a pin drop and
start firing. At any rate, congratulations for
your letter to the "Pres." I only hope he reads it
and is filled with the same kind of horror as I've
been. Good for you for taking your stand.
The depression on your face in the front of the
magazine was enough to tell what you've dealt
May this "Undeclared War" be over with and now !!!
Dear Major Helfant -
I just read your letter in LOOK. I worked for the
League of Nations in 1917 when I was a freshman at
XXXXXXXXX College and for every Peace organization
to come along. No man in our family missed a war,
my grandfather was in the Civil War, my father
enlisted in the Spanish=American, my husband was
at Xxxx in the SATC, his older brother was killed
in France, our older son a medic in Europe for two
years, in the Battle of the Bulge and then in
Austria, working nights giving treatments for VD,
acquired mostly by young soldiers from prostitutes
and skiing daytimes. Our younger son was in Korea
guarding a boundary, the war was over but snipers
How can we go about getting rid of this political
syndrome? When the bomb came our son-in-law, in
the Pacific during his duty, said it would stop
war. But everyone is afraid to use it. Our
daughter, now his wife, was working as a layout
artist for the Navy Electronics Laboratory in XXX
XXXX, and worked on the Bikini book. When she
realized that the vegetation was crucified she, a
gardener, felt personally responsible. She had
done the end sheets for the book.
It is my opinion that Mr. Johnson could have
stopped the war with a bomb. Maybe they aren't
nice. Here in California we use a lot of Japanese
dishes, soup bowls and plain white china. I drop
in on my regular storekeeper about every six
months. He came from Hiroshima and says he can
never go back to Japan because he is ashamed that
he was here in The States, a young child, with his
importer father when it happened. He speaks a sort
of English and he very nearly weeps when he speaks
of the war.
What nonsense war is. Since I am seventy I knew
wounded from 1917, a young man in Paris, one leg
gone, most of his middle. He had a good career as
a diplomat. We had dinner with them in Rome in
1930 but he died soon after.
I took the "Illustration" for years. They had
pictures of World War I facial disasters. At that
time no U.S. publication would show them. I am
glad LOOK showed your pictures.
Don't know what to do - we never have an honest
economy and bolster it with war. Why can't we get
along without it?
Dear Doctor Helfant:
Last evening I read your letter in the July 28th
issue of LOOK, and my first question was "I wonder
what the president will say in reply? I wonder
what he can think as he continues in his rounds of
political, social and 'unconcern'?"
Before becoming a librarian I worked in a
government hospital for amputees from the Korean
War... in the Chapel and on the fatal tumor ward.
During that time, before, and since, I recall
reading a book several years ago with the setting
in early Mexico--- when every citizen of one
community was forced** to visit the hospital and
see the plight of his fellow man in deplorable
conditions... Too many of our UNCONCERNED and
COMPLACENT citizens give little thought to the
RESULTS of war...
My purpose in writing this is to learn from you,
if it is not too much trouble, about the response
you receive from your publication of your letter.
A small group of CONCERNED individuals in this
small community strive to explain their views of
the sorry plight of our country -- with the usual
reaction found in so many places... THERE MUST BE
SOME WAY! And I, as one concerned person, would
like to know what that ways is. Thank you for
**once a year, on a special day
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I hope that I have addressed you correctly...
Brilliant your letter to LOOK. You, Sir, are one
of the few people who has ever caused me to miss a
meal. And this time on an intellectual basis. Not
that the sights were not indeed gross. If there
were more letters like yours, perhaps war would
become a thing of the past.
And if there is anything I can do, short of going
to at least the Vietnam War, please feel free to
call upon me.
But I doubt that any magazine such as LOOK could
run your letter or one such as it in every
article. People would soon become repelled by such
truth. In a recent TV program showing how amputees
caused by Vietnam were being fitted with
artificial limbs. This made everything just ducky.
But every one soldier in that program came out on
top of it, or at least with a fighting chance.
You, Sir, went beyond realism to realism, and this
owing to the fantasy which people live it.
At best -- Right on Brother, right on!
Dear Dr. Helfant,
We have just read your letter to the President
that appeared in the July 28 issue of LOOK
Magazine. Although this letter was not addressed
to us we feel deeply moved to express to you as
best we can through the inadequate medium of words
Your medical skills helped to alleviate the
suffering of these people but your letter to the
President is a milestone in the effort to prevent
the cause of that suffering.
Dear Dr. Helfant:
I must write this concerning your letter to the
President in LOOK, July 28, 1970.
It was a traumatic experience, almost without
parallel. I believe we all know what war is, but
few of us get the actual impact. This is as close
as I want to come. It is one of the saddest, most
futile, most inhumane, most uncalled for butchery,
both mental and physical, in this sadistic world.
We have a son in the Air Force medical corps. He
has been to Vietnam and has been through the
crucible, but he will not talk about it. It is
probably too horrible to discuss in conversation.
I can see that your approach is right. However, we
all know that it will not stop. This is the
saddest truth of all. God will have to take over
soon, because we cannot live peacefully in this
world as it is (or we will not).
Of all the terrible pictures (thanks for not
showing anything worse) the one that stays with me
is the one of the boy who is face down on the
table and for all practical purpose is cut in two.
I would like to know if he is alive and how, if
so, you could put him together (or hold him
together) so that he can operate or function. I
must admit that seeing him lying there, so
helpless and knowing how much he wanted to live,
that it was almost too much. Of course I feel the
same way about all of them, but something about
him hit me the hardest.
I hope with the help of God that all of the
suffering will end soon; that includes all
suffering in the World. In the meantime I know
that you will do the best that you can.
Know what makes it a beautiful world?
People like you.
I just finished reading your letter to the
President in LOOK Magazine. No account of this
so-called conflict has, up till now, made such a
deep impression on me or hit home quite so hard. I
guess what I'm trying to say is that, for the
first time, my few and very ambivalent thoughts
about this war have gravitated down to one point -
I'm sick to my stomach at the sight (through your
eyes) of such horror and suffering, and as an
American citizen, I'm deeply ashamed to be part of
a people who would do this to their own. I begin
to realize what an atrocity this whole business
is, and having heard the story from someone I
know, I cannot ease my sick feeling by saying "It
just couldn't be that bad."
Having had the privilege of scrubbing with you and
seeing you with your patients, I am deeply moved
by the thought of what those two years must have
done to you. I'm not very good at putting my
muddled thoughts into words, but I feel I want to
apologize to you for what you had to go through
"in defense of your country and the people back
home." I'm not too proud that I'm one of the
"people back home." The point of your letter was,
of course, the horrible price being paid by those
you treated, but I'm completely unworthy of their
sacrifices and I can't feel anything relating to
them but guilt and shame. I could not dare to put
any more than that into words - there just aren't
Living inXX XXXand working at XXX Hospital at XXX,
I've seen a great many of the casualties resulting
from protest riots, "peace marches," and
counter-attacks by the increasingly militant
Silent Majority. I've had my belly-full of the
Black Panthers, Young Lords, Peace-and-Freedom
Marchers, and countless other "peace" groups. The
war-mongers are wrong, but are the opposing forces
any better when they protest this war by murdering
and maiming firemen and policemen, even children -
supposedly to "save" them from growing up to die
in the next Vietnam? These are the stories that
never reach the newspapers - it's amazing what
politics and a little money can keep quiet - but
our emergency room, O.R., and ward beds are filled
with the evidence of man's capacity for brutality
against his brother in the name of "justice." "God
save us from the things men do in the name of
I don't know why I bother telling you this, except
you mustn't think I'm apathetic to this war or
indifferent to your efforts to end it. There are
so many like me - we don't carry signs or protest
in public - but we care. I don't
understand politics, politicians or the "issues"
of the day. What else can I do - as a wife,
mother, and right now the support of my family -
but to do my job the best I know how, offer
through my nursing whatever comfort and love I
can, and live my beliefs of peace and realistic
brotherhood? I will raise my children to see
themselves in all people, to appreciate and
cherish in a peaceful existence, and hope that my
influence on my tiny corner to the world will rub
off enough to have a positive effect on my
children's world. As for the present, I feel
helpless - do I make sense, or am I babbling?
I'm sure you have better things to do than sit
around reading a letter from me, so I'll close,
having failed somewhat in telling you all the
thoughts your letter inspired. I'm sure it had a
great impact on all who read it, but perhaps I
felt a bit more, since I could see the face of the
man who wrote it, and I understand, to some
extent, his gentle manner, abhorrence of violence
and suffering and his deep involvement with his
Professionally I consider myself privileged to
have worked for you on several occasions at XXX -
you have my deepest admiration. Personally, s the
mother of children who must inherit this sick
world someday, as a friend of a few years ago, I
can only offer and hope you'll accept a most
humble and sincere (however inadequate) thank you.
With all my heart, Murray, thank you.
p.s. I'm happy to say we're moving out of XXX City
in 2 weeks - back to civilization in the country.
Perhaps, with luck, we'll move to Mass. In another
year or so I'd love a chance to work at XXX again,
and to get back into an O.R. gown. I've been a
head nurse on an XXXXXXX ward for two years, and I
miss surgery terribly. Would you believe I still
remember your routine, at least as it was in 1967!
I read your "Letter to the President" as was
printed in the July issue of "LOOK magazine. I
sure hope and pray that every Senator, Congressman
and Mr. President take this and read it, and hope
that at least 51% of them can understand the
meaning of it. It looks like some of these
"elected personnel" would be human. Every word and
meaning you wrote I agree with 100%.
I am a "Korean War" veteran, 41 years old, drafted
in June '51 and discharged in '53. I'm the father
of six sons and three girls. The oldest four are
boys 15, 13, 11 and 10 years old. I sure am
bringing them up in a good country, "The U.S.A." I
have a bad knee but 10 days out of service was
called for an interview and some big doctor said
it's O.K. and I should go back home. It bothers me
some every day. I never did get 1cent disability.
I got $4.00 transportation pay to go to the Vet
Hospital for check up.
I own a 150 acre hilly farm and do bulldozing
work. I run the dozer several years (15) but I got
troubles now and have to hire a lot of help. My
father, a WW I Vet, died at the age of 41. I had 2
brothers and 1 sister and I the second oldest was
5 years old when he died. My mother raised us four
children and never received 1cent pension. She was
told she wasn't entitled to it. She died 10 years
ago at the age of 60. She had hardening of the
arteries. My wife and one brother's wife cared for
her about 15 years before she died. We had to
borrow some money to pay her funeral expense.
I'm not much of a letter write, but I sure believe
you to be a 100% #1 man.
p.s. If you can figure out something to further
promote your feelings I couldn't help much
financially but could get a lot of followers that
could. I would what I could. I hope you get this
I hope this letter reaches you.
I just read your letter to the President published
in LOOK. I enjoyed your sarcasm.
I am a dentist. I spent 2 1/2 years in Xxxxx at
the Naval Facility in Xxxx. During that time I had
the opportunity to visit the army's Xxxxx
Hospital, see the wars and help treat some of the
patients. After seeing and treating the victims of
the war in Viet Nam I too got a sick feeling. I
too asked questions. Why this G.D. war? Why do
people have to fight and die? Your letter brought
back an old familiar knot in the pit of my stomach
and in my throat. I thin I know, at least a
little, how you feel.
When I was a kid I played soldier, and after
getting shot I went to great lengths to fall in a
realistic manner. It was a great game. But now,
after seeing and treating, if only in a limited
way, war is no longer a game or a bunch of
numbers. War is a brutal and stark reality.
Killing is more real to me and to you than to any
General. He does not treat and try to cure. All he
does is Generate.
We were both sick and are both still suffering
from a disease, but my cure has taken a different
course than yours. I am more determined than ever
mot to give up, or quit, or to step back even one
step. Do you think your letter will help end the
war in Viet Nam, help the wounded or the future
wounded? I think not! There will always be
aggression and aggressors. They may be Communists
or Black Militants or White Bigots. In the
particular case you have strengthened the
Communist aggressor's hand by indirectly
questioning America's Attitude and Resolve. This
will only increase the wounded.
I guess the course of our cure depends upon our
sense of values. To me Freedom is worth any price
I have to pay to keep it. If the South Vietnamese
lose their freedom the killing and maiming will
still continue. It will not be in the papers and
the victims will not be treated. They will just
die. From your personal psychic point of view this
would seem to be best, but is it really best?
I too would like to see this war, in fact all
wars, riots, murders, rapes, crimes, fights,
quarrels, and misunderstandings end. I would like
to see man truly begin to love his fellow man.
Good Luck, Doctor.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Thank God for your courage in sending an "Open
Letter to the President."
Words cannot express my feelings as I read and
looked at the "least grisly" (Sunday's paper) of
I had to return some books to our local library on
my lunch-hour last week, so while there I made a
point of reading the LOOK article or letter. A
co-worker had told me about it. I went back to
work physically ill, weeping inside, haunted by it
all. We all "know" to some degree that our men are
wounded but until someone of your knowledge comes
forth with pictures we are just a herd(?) of
ostriches with our heads in the sand.
I wanted immediately to do something, anything,
rush over there, become a nurse, joint the Red
However, I'm one of the ones who wouldn't be able
to "take it" either. I would just go to pieces. If
I see a dead animal or bird in the road I'm done
for, for hours.
I say to you - get those other photographs
published somehow - pound your message home - sock
it to everyone - especially those in
Yes, there are people making money out of this war
- who don't want it to end, but they will get
theirs and it won't be money eventually.
I say God will not be mocked, and it is a mockery
of his life's plan to have these young men and
boys torn up this way for something that none of
us truly believes in.
Do not falter in your determination to speak out.
It should transcend anything in your life because
you "feel" and perhaps can do something.
p.s. Sunday's paper did not publish your address.
I took a wild stab at the Boston phone book.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I just finished reading your letter to the
President in LOOK Magazine. I'm surprised the
government let LOOK print it plus the pictures.
The public at least now knows a fraction of the
truth of the non-war.
I'm 21 and will be 22 in January. I'm not a
draft-dodger or a resistor. I just don't want to
be inducted into the services. I heard stories of
what happened to human bodies in Vietnam but I
never seen pictures. I'm overweight (1Y) and I'm
--- in the draft-lottery. So I guess I'm safe. But
now I feel a little ashamed of myself because guys
my own age are dying and being injured in horrible
ways. Some were drafted because they weren't
overweight (which I ate and ate because I knew I
could get out) or turned out --- on the lottery.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not going to enlist now. I
just had to tell you the truth I'm more scared now
than before. I'm not a coward. But God I'm scared
of war. Forgive the handwriting. It's late and I'm
William Timmons (unemployed)
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I should like to congratulate you on your article
in the July 28th issue of LOOK Magazine. Although,
as an Englishman, and as such a guest in this
country and not privileged to have an opinion, I
was deeply moved by your restrained comments. Such
have long been known to the profession, but the
ostrich attitude of the general populace has been
effective in hiding these frankly unsavoury facts
from many. The only thing you did not mention is
the coarsening effect of the war on the minds of
those who have seen the mayhem, but have not
themselves been physically wounded. I have spoken,
with horror, to some young naval people in this
area, and their minds were full of Websterian
images of decay, corruption, dirt and burials.
They have seen their best friends blown to pieces
by shells, mangled in booby traps , covered
initially with dirt and mud, and then prettified
"so that the people at home will never know this
The most optimistic feature is that there are
still people like yourself, who can do their duty
without the self-indulgent luxury of crying scorn,
and then, without losing spiritual vision, return
and state the facts without rancour. That is
indeed maturity, and I am full of respect for your
Ever yours sincerely,
The enclosed letter was to be copied by me in
better handwriting, but inasmuch as I am seventy
years old, my eyes won't take too much reading and
writing, so will you excuse the poor handwriting
and accept it as it is. I hope your letter will do
some good, but I am afraid that nothing but a bomb
dropped close besides some of these Anti-Communist
fools will do any good and that dropped every ten
minutes for six months. I would like to put L.
Johnson, ex-President in there. I know that.
It's always the least brave that expect so much
from the others. We have to learn to live with the
Communists. Perhaps they have to live with us,
what with the tiger cages and other things done in
or near Saigon.
If some of these foolish people have had to live
under the Russian Czars before the 1914 Revolution
they would know it was as just as the American
Revolution in America.
I lost my oldest boy in the war in 1942. Others
Respectfully yours and thank you,
The following letter (alluded to as "The enclosed
letter") accompanied the previous:
I would like to write to you in detail and I may
do some day. I am writing about the letter you
sent to this President (Nixon) and the photos of
our men and boys wounded and hurt so badly in
Vietnam. I am an older woman and have one against
this war since the start, and writing since 1964
to Johnson (the President), Secretary Rusk, and R.
Nixon, etc. to take the line of Negotiators
suggested by the World Powers and the Senator from
Arkansas, Fulbright, and a few others. I am
speaking of the letter as it was printed in the
LOOK Magazine that you wrote, and the
photos of wounded as you photographed them. I
remember them in England in 1914 to 1918, as a
girl about 16 years in the city of Xxxxxx - the
men in the medium blue or light green flannel
hospital suits with army hat - so many taking the
air or walks in the long six or more feet basket
beds with one man with a badly broken left arm
walking at almost army pace - pushing the bed
handle at the other side. In amongst the heavy
pedestrian traffic from Xxxxxx Xxx Hospital - the
long straight nicely side-walked Xxxxxxxxxx Rd,
Xxxx Rd. - into the City and back.
This was not far from where my home lay, and we
had to compete with them coming home from work for
street-car room. (A little bit of fun I'm meaning
in saying that - we girls would have walked ten
miles home to let them have the street cars to get
back to the Hospital on time.)
But usually there was room for a couple of
dozen civilians, and the men would get up with
their broken arms to let us sit down. I nearly had
nervous prostration for fear they would smash them
up again with the street-car crowded, and going at
high speed. Perhaps they wouldn't have cared, as
we didn't care much (what with raids and deaths
and wounds of the men the realization that the ---
-- were not competent) - who won the war.
We realized from returned prisoners, German
prisoners we saw by photo, etc. that we were all
Thank you, sir,
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Since you will not permit me to speak of my
thoughts, I must write them.
Thank you! I guess for being what you are. Your
commencement speech was marvelous. You spoke of
basic real things that are happening now.
Not of how wonderful new --- graduates are, or
what the hospital is doing this year, etc. etc.
(Which is the trend at the school).
Also I want to utter my gratitude, respect and
admiration for what you have done and accomplished
with your letter to Mr. Nixon.
So many speak of things that "should change" or
"should be done" only in idle chatter - but do
nothing of these "should be's".
It gives me chills to think of all the people you
have reached with this masterpiece.
"And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude
of your heart you live in your lips."
Dr. Helfant, this is what you have done!
I just finished reading a copy of your article in
LOOK Magazine. I work with a room full of men, and
all of them were interested in your article so
copies were run off on the Xerox machine. I was
the last to read your letter because they didn't
think I should read something that shocking at
this time. You see I'm five months pregnant, and
today my husband has been at boot camp for two
After I finished reading, I couldn't get rid of
the lump in my throat and I felt I had to write to
you and ask a few questions. You seem to have
absorbed so much in so little time. My heart goes
out to you that you cannot escape from your
After you wrote your letter, did you ever receive
any reply from the president or any other
official? Does Washington know that our boys are
being slaughtered? Did you have any difficulty in
printing your letter, or was there any type if
censorship involved? Your pictures were more like
something out of a Hollywood horror movie, rather
than patients at a U.S. hospital in Japan.
Please understand that I want to try to do
something to help, but I don't know where to go or
who to ask for information. I can't help but feel
tht what was hinted at but left unsaid in the
article is more important than the words that did
appear. Because of this I am interested in finding
out how I could do something in a small way to end
the war, or possible help those poor boys, excuse
me, I mean men.
If you could ever find the time I would appreciate
a reply. I know that's asking an awful lot, but I
just had to write or react in some way.
With your permission I shall omit the suspense
date, block style and paragraph numbers (cf. GR 17
450-100, supersedes 17 450-100, 118). Things have
not changed down here since Black Jack Pershing
readied his men for the Pancho Villa expedition,
and nothing has changed since you were here.
I am wearing your uniforms proudly and doing my
best "To Conserve the Fighting Strength."
Seriously, I again thank you for the blues, greens
and khakis. I hope the pants' seats do not wear
out during my tour so that I may return them to
you in good shape.
Your article circulated through --- platoon, X
Company a few days ago. It was well-received and
rightfully so. The letter to the
Commander-in-Chief also ever so slightly moved the
Middle West. My father commented: "Much more
impressive than most of the half-baked
--- and I look forward to a chance to talk with
Counting the days,
Jack Breckenridge, U.S. Army MC
Dear Dr. Helfant:
I am writing this letter with the express purpose
in mind of thanking you for what I consider the
most significant contribution to peace and sanity
I have seen to date. Yet, somehow, I feel that
thanks are not enough. I would like to help in any
way possible to continue your great work. A "new
consciousness" of the most pathetic victims of
this non-war - the non-dead yet non-alive - seems
to be emerging and your letter with its poignant
insightful sensitivity has contributed
incalculably to this.
If there is any way, Doctor, that you alone, or in
conjunction with others who share your concern,
can impress upon the public the true significance
of the "daily wounded" reports, I feel this will
truly change the Silent Majority's tolerance of
the war. People must be made to see an impersonal
statistic such as 1,200 wounded in terms of
irreparable human damage. The emotional and
psychological crippling of families, wives and
boys and the devastation of the promise of a
bright future for literally untold thousands of
brave young men. The dead are buried once, Dr.
Helfant, but the severely wounded and their
families are condemned to die a little each day.
Please let us know if we can help you promulgate
your painfully accumulated knowledge on this
subject and possibly alleviate your horrible
burden. Incidentally, Mrs. Hazel Thorpe, my
employer is the lady who called you last Saturday
evening also with reference to your article.
I saw your article today in LOOK by chance. I've
been reading and thinking about it since. It is
awesome and horrifying and absolutely necessary.
The nation should be thankful that someone in your
profession would have the guts to make such a
statement; and I hope for your sake writing it has
exorcised some to the demons. (And I hope for the
sake of all of us that not too many nuts come back
at you with the regular nuttiness).
You have done an amazing job of making those
maimed creatures in the photographs emerge as
heroes. And such pictures often simply satisfy a
morbid curiosity. Your accomplishment is largely
due, I think, to the tone of the letter, which is
intentionally ironic; but rage comes roaring
through quite often, and so does a baffled note as
of shattered innocence.
I am sorry that you had to suffer so - and I am
aware that pity for the whole and reasonable must
seem an awful extravagance after what you have
Alicia is away visiting relatives, but I am sure
she will share my feelings when she reads your
letter. My best to your wife and children. Thank
I'm writing to tell you how glad I am to have seen
your recent article - I only hope it does some
good. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be
able to say I know you personally.
I hope you are happy in your work and that your
family is well.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Your letter affected me in a way that I cannot
hope to describe. I had never been actively
concerned about the war, although I have
participated in many discussions held by my
school's administration. I had, of course, read
statistics or the death toll of the war, but they
were too detached to affect me. I never realized
the horrible suffering that has resulted from this
"conflict". Perhaps I had thought of it, but had
chosen to ignore it as so many people must also be
doing now. I cannot believe that anyone could
support any war knowing it cost so many men so
While reading your letter I thought of the
parents, the brothers and sisters, the wives and
girl-friends, and the children of these men. The
agony which the injured must endure must also
become a part of the lives of all these people. My
brother is eighteen and a half, my boyfriend will
be eighteen in October. I am terrified by the
thought of them having to suffer for the rest of
their lives as a result of so worthless a war.
After reading your letter, the President of this
country cannot fail to bring an end to this tragic
waste. He hasn't the right to cause such
devastating destruction of human beings. These men
are not his to have broken, mangled and mutilated.
They have not been raised, loved and cherished for
nineteen years only to be sent away and be put
through such anguish.
I feel so helpless against the unfeelingness that
is exhibited by the prolongation of the war in
Vietnam. I hope your letter has reached the
President and that it has affected him as it
affected me. I have never been moved to write to
the President. If I could be sure my letter would
reach him, I would now.
Please tell me how I can help put an end to the
inhuman suffering you have witnessed.
Mary Lisbeth Dearworth
Dear Dr. Helfant:
I am deeply impressed by your "Letter to the
President." Publication of your letter reveals
your courage and your commitment to a national
reformation, the discontinuance of the ugly
conflict in Vietnam and a national effort to
effect a peaceful (or at least cease fire)
settlement. If anyone can read your "letter" and
not feel sorrow, anger and guilt, then, indeed, he
does not deserve to be classified as human.
I hope your "letter" is read by people who
understand your message, written with deep
empathy. I hope it will inspire them to take
thoughtful action against the tragedy inflicted on
our American youth who have been sent to Vietnam.
If your "letter" does not move the president and
the readers to give thought and take action of
behalf of the men who have been forced to give
their lives and minds, then nothing will touch the
people of the United States to stop the sacrifice
of young life. Are there many carbon copies of
your "letter?" It is worthy of distribution to all
of the literate and to be read aloud to the
It is reassuring that at least one surgeon has a
commitment to his patients. Those who cannot thank
you, would if they could. Those who can, will.
Chairman, Public Health Nursing
PEACE FIRST PEACE NOW PEACE FOREVER PEACE
Dear Dr. Helfant:-
I have thought much about our conversation the
other day, and much of what I would ask and
suggest is somewhat tempered by a personal
impression that I received in talking to you. It
corresponds with the very tone of your "LOOK"
article. It is a feeling that your own personal
"war wounds" are sop deep that you would find it
difficult to expose yourself to further battles
before public audiences. (Yet if you would be
willing to face an American Legion audience, you
must have the courage of a thousand lions.)
Let me speak frankly and openly with you.
I have always felt that the most effective weapon
that could be used in talking to the American
people would have to do with the matter of the
"cheapness" with which we hold the lives of our
own children and the lives of the Vietnamese. For
only a moment the My Lai situation shocked and
touched us in a rather vulnerable spot. With the
help of some of our leaders we managed somehow to
sweep these ugly stories under the rug.
There is only one "thing" that cannot be swept
under a rug, rationalized, or explained - it is
the faces of the dead, the wounded, the dying, the
anxious, the face fo fear, the fact of young men
grown old after a month of combat. It is the "face
of war" tht is missing in the fight to end it. It
is the drama of the operating table, at the front,
the hospitals for the incurables, the hundreds of
pictures that have never been shown that must be
I for one believe that we must end the war, now no
matter what it costs our government in loss of
face - and we must face if we are ever to regain
our national "soul."
I once suggested that we go to the veterans'
hospitals and take pictures there on Veterans Day,
and publish them in the paper. "They" were afraid.
Every man must decide for himself what he can do
in this critical moment. My own feeling is that if
you and I value the life the young man who will
die in Vietnam tomorrow, it can no longer be a
question of what we can do, but what we must do.
In many ways I sometimes wonder whether the nation
is really worth saving as it is presently
constituted, but I am certain of one thing that
young soldier whom you knew so well, and all the
women, children, and old men, and the young men
too, across Vietnam should not be made to suffer
I believe that you and your message must be told
throughout the United States. Perhaps a few other
physicians may come forward by your example and
join you. I think that you can shorten the war,
because no father or mother will be able to escape
the conclusion that at this moment it is they who
may be responsible for what you have shown them -
it is their decision that another young man will
appear in a hospital somewhere - perhaps their own
son - and they could have prevented it. You and I
owe it to these young men to stop the killing
today, and only you and I can do it. We really
can't rely on any one else.
By the way, the top of this letterhead is a
quotation from Ramsey Clark's convocation address
at the University of Chicago this June.
Finally, I think that you need not be tied to any
organization, unless the AMA wishes to sponsor
your trip. You would be Dr. Helfant talking to the
American people about what you have seen and how
you feel. Should you wish to do this, perhaps I
can be of some help to you.
I cannot end this letter without telling you how
grateful I am to you for your great courage in
doing what you have done.
Peace, Peace, Peace,
Dear Dr. Helfant,
By chance, I just read your beautiful letter in
the July 28th issue of LOOK. While not envious of
your experience in Japan, I feel your letter is
one we all would be proud to have written.
Unfortunately, pictures and words alone cannot
express the long-term horrors of dealing with the
severely brain-injured patient. Your letter should
be part of the wallpaper of all the "hawks" in
With my personal thanks to you for a job well
done, I am sincerely yours.
Estes Deane, M.D.
Chief, Neurosurgical Section
Veterans Administration Hospital
Dear Dr. Helfant,
They say "one picture is worth a thousand words"
but your pictures published in LOOK were indeed to
the point. It is a pity the rest of your pictures
were not printed. Perhaps if the men who "operate"
this "non-war" were made to view each battered and
torn body the despair and sorrow would reach them.
When I look at these pictures and know my two sons
could be in them in a few short years I become
almost desperate at the thought and not knowing
what to do. Do we mothers have to give our sons,
our most precious possessions, to the government
to be slaughtered? I don't want to give mine. They
are all I have.
Your letter said everything that had to be said,
but I doubt if any of it will reach these
politicians the way it should. To them the war is
a game; they never see the blood and broken bodies
and minds as you have. It's like a game of chess,
thousands of men's lives are determined by a move.
One move was Cambodia. The President will never
see the casualties as he sits in his
air-conditioned office and waits for his hand
maidens to tell him his strategy was brilliant.
You have done a commendable thing. Do whatever
else you can to bring home to people that we are
the ones that are crying, the parents
with the young boys that will have to take
part in this game. We are concerned for these
young 20 year olders who don't even know why they
are dying. What kind of a country is this when
more value is put on the shape of a table than on
a young boy's life?
I hope some day you'll print the rest of your
pictures. War has to stop. The price of my sons is
Perhaps in years to come when we can pre-determine
the sex of our child women will prefer girls; that
way we know we will be able to see them grow to
full womanhood. What would the draft board do with
a nation of girls? I'm sure many mothers would say
"I love boys but give me a girl. I'll never have
to see her go to war."
Dear Dr. Helfant:
I read your letter to the President. The facts it
contained were not as shocking as hearing that
four of my friends have been killed while
participating in the war games in Vietnam - not to
mention those who were "lucky" enough to return
home wounded, disabled and unable to find
I could tell you about a first lieutenant who
after returning from Vietnam wounded has not been
able to find steady employment. What in the hell
was he fighting for? God? Country? Freedom? To
stop communism? Or just what?
I share with you the feeling that something must
be done to stop the willful disregard for human
life in Vietnam. The "leaders" of this country
must be made to see that what is happening in
Vietnam is wrong and is costing men, young men,
far too much. To give a life or limb for a just
cause can indeed be meaningful to the giver, but
to lose a life or a limb fighting in a "war" that
Congress has not seen fit to declare a war leaves
something to be desired.
You are congratulated for the courage exhibited in
bringing the morbid side of the Vietnam War to the
attention of the Commander-in-Chief. It's too bad
that nothing will be done to correct this dreadful
Second Lieutenant, TC
Dear Dr. Helfant,
It's a sunny warm Saturday afternoon, and I was
casually glancing through the newspapers to catch
up on my reading and read the article in
Thursday's July 23 paper, then quickly fished out
the July issue of LOOK and read your letter to the
President. Needless to say I was deeply impressed
and even I, being a nurse, was shocked to tears by
the pictures. Just knowing you the little I did
before you went to Japan, I feel such empathy
toward you. It was like talking to you through the
med closet window. May I commend you for speaking
your piece so loudly in so direct a channel. As
you at first, I had no great feelings about
Vietnam. Why does it have to be? Your horror awake
at nights is probably tripled or more so in the
hearts and minds of those who survive this war and
the parents of those who don't. Thank you for
being a man and resigning, letting the President
know these things, but mostly for being there
while you were to help those you could. I'll pray
for your peace and work at home and continue to
pray for the war's end.
Former Med Nurse, 5th Floor
p.s. Please excuse this writing for I was
emotionally stirred at the time.
Dear Dr, Helfant,
Thank you for your wonderful article in LOOK
magazine. I forced myself to read it and to really
look at the pictures. The appalling and senseless
cruelty of war is beyond my understanding -
especially since it involves our youngest and
healthiest men. If we sent our old (like me), our
incurables, our insane it would still be cruel but
not as horrible or senseless as this.
I will not belabor you with personal thoughts -
but only want to commend you for your bravery in
"speaking out." You will have outcries enough from
My own recommendation has always been to send one
old senator and two old Reps from the government
with every 500 men to the firing line. Why not?
Peace! Good luck and keep writing.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I don't expect you to remember, nor answer me -
but I would like to tell you that while I was
working in this rinky-dink (pardon the
expression!) xxxx ward of mine - I happened to
pick up the LOOK magazine and literally went nuts!
You wrote a moving letter, and I'm proud to say
I've known you! I've passed it around - and
although not everyone can feel what you feel -
that letter packs quite a wallop. Congratulations
from a little graduate nurse (who' shaking in her
white shoes until Boards are over in August!)
Sincerely, your friend,
p.s. Send, or rather, give my regards or, shall I
say "salutations" to the girls.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
We were deeply moved by your letter to the
President in LOOK magazine. It is the most urgent
plea for peace that we have ever read.
We have taken the liberty of sending copies to
President Nixon (again), Vice-President Agnew,
Senators Kennedy and Brooke, Representatives
Heckler and Governor Francis Sargent.
We can only wish you forgetfulness that sometimes
comes with time and peace for you, your family and
all of us.
While waiting in the VW garage for our bus to be
repaired, I opened the latest issue of LOOK.
Imagine the pleasant surprise to see the name and
face of an old friend. The last time I saw you was
the week before Pam was born and you'd just
returned to school with your bride. I brought the
issue so I could read it to Jim, but he had
already red it on a plane coming home from
Thank you for writing the Letter. It came with
extra impact for we'd just seen the movie MASH.
However, there was no humor in what you said. I've
become sick of seeing young boys' faces on TV news
as the soldiers in Vietnam and as our own son,
Tommy, gets older (he'll be 13 in Sept.). I get
more and more alarmed about the uselessness and
ridiculousness of the war. I feel that this is a
totally worthless war in which we should never
have become involved and the sooner we pull out
the better. Honorable settlement be damned. If I
were the mother of a young man killed or maimed in
this war I should grow to be a very bitter old
woman, for no one, mother or son, should be asked
to give so much for nothing.
Your pictures were horrible and have moved me to
sit down and once again write to our Southern
conservative congressmen to protest the war in
Vietnam. What else can we do? Both Jim and I feel
frustrated and helpless.
If you are an occasional camper try the South
Carolina coast sometime. The south is not always
as grim as the news media leads you to believe.
Jack finished his PhD and is a lecturer for the
University of Georgia. I am not a nurse anymore;
not here anyway as I ran into instances where
medicine was practiced according to color and I
live surrounded by great beauty. We seem to have
found our niche. Yes, I finally woke up and
realized that the great mid-west did not held all
Again, thank you for writing the Letter. I admire
your courage for writing it and hope it will do
Dear Doctor Helfant:
I cannot adequately express my thanks for the
service you have done America by having published
"A Letter to the President" that appeared in the
July 28 issue of LOOK.
I almost missed your article, which moved me
deeply, because when I saw the cover, featuring a
photograph and story on Princess Anne of England I
was not interested in looking beyond the cover. It
was my husband who brought the magazine home.
Your letter should have been the cover story. I
wonder how many other people will miss it as I
almost did. Certainly the subject of our men on
the battlefields of Vietnam is closer to the
hearts and minds of Americans than is Princess
I have written to my Congressman and to the
President imploring an end to the operations in
Vietnam and referring them to your published
Dear Dr. Helfant:
It would be difficult to in any way adequately
express my feelings upon listening to the radio
interview given you over WHDH and after reading
the fragments of your long letter to President
Nixon - sent with accompanying photos of the
shattered young men who were among the Vietnam War
patients under the care of you and your colleagues
Indeed, your letter and its devastating message to
the world - so quietly, deeply and tellingly told
- is a monument in you own time to your
all-consuming concern as a true humanitarian.
You are so richly endowed with your gifts as a
doctor-surgeon - gifts matched by your great
capacity for compassion - all of which give life
to your deep convictions - so honestly and
courageously expressed in your letter to President
Nixon and the world.
War - and all its attendant horrors are not
unknown to me.
I (and surely countless thousands) await for
response from the President re: your illuminating
Thank you, Oh! Thank you.
Judy and I were very enlightened by your article
"A letter to the President". We know it must of
taken a great deal of your time to do it and hope
it will do some good.
Thanking of you,
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Remember me? - Miss Schier, ARC, 249th, etc. etc.
I took your advice, gave up that nasty boyfriend,
and turned into a happier person almost
immediately. And then a funny thing happened on my
way to San Francisco where I had a roommate and
apartment waiting - I met THE MAN right here in
San Francisco, California! He's great and we were
married in May.
But please forgive the long introduction. I'm
writing because of your recent article in LOOK
that I happened to run across. I just wanted to
thank you for writing it. It was well written and
I'm sure long hours went into its preparation.
Your frustration and horror that this waste of
young lives is allowed to continue for absolutely
nonexistent reasons (as were the reasons for the
initial involvement) is shared.
Unfortunately the people who can really do
something seem rather unconcerned about the
casualty rate - as long as it seems to stay at a
respectable "low" level. Can the President truly
believe himself when he has the nerve to tell
millions of Americans (many who do believe him)
that these valiant young men are dying and being
wounded for the cause of "freedom" and
I wasn't involved with the frustrating aspects of
being unable to medically help someone. I know
this was fortunate for my own peace of mind.
However, the experience of working with such very
young men whom I knew would never lead happy,
normal lives (for such lousy reasons) has etched
itself somewhere inside me.
I don't envy you your memories. I hope your
article will make some people really for the first
time stop and truly think about what is happening
to kids that are sent over there. Perhaps those
pictures, if nothing else, will make someone stop
waving the flag for a minute or two and think
rationally about that corrupt dictatorial Thieu-Ky
government we have put in power and we support
with American lives.
Well, I guess I've soapboxed long enough. I just
want you to know how grateful I am that someone
was able to write about those daily war atrocities
that our government seem to condone, Hopefully,
hopefully, hopefully (but probably doubtfully)
your article will be a little help to end this
terrible nightmare in American history.
Give my best to your wife and children. I remember
well our fun evening (with Jason Cox) at the
Spanish restaurant and our amazement upon learning
that the dancers were men! My very best to you
p.s. Also your kind words about the Red Cross at
the 249th were very much appreciated.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
My name is Gretchen Olsen. I am a high school
student and will study to be a nurse after my
I read your letter to the President in LOOK
Magazine. You might say I enjoyed reading it. Not
because I enjoy hearing about suffering people but
because I enjoy reading about concerned,
I have been interested in the 249th General
Hospital for some time now, but no one seems to
know anything about it. Can you please help me? I
want to know about the hospital in general, and
also about how you can apply to work there. Are
they really that short of nurses and doctors? How
are the hospital conditions? What kind of
equipment is available? Do you have to be in the
army to work there?
I hope you can help me. I know that you don't know
me, but I really do have a good cause in mind.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Regarding your letter to the President - what can
I do to help?
Denise Osborne, R.N.
Let me first introduce myself. I am Marcia Gillis,
a teenager interested in what happens to the
I read the letter you wrote to the President. It
was published in the July 28, 1970 edition of LOOK
Magazine. I couldn't help but feel let down, so I
wrote to LOOK and asked for your address. I
received a letter today and I was told that I
couldn't have your private address but to address
my letter to LOOK and they would forward it for
After reading that letter I felt terrible. I am
going into nursing when I graduate from high
school that is in two years. I had thought about
going overseas and after reading that letter I
have a more definite decision. I would like to go
overseas and spend my time with soldiers who
really need help.
Is there any possible chance that I may write to
the soldiers or send them something to help them
along? I'm writing to two boys in Vietnam now and
would love to write to any soldier who is lonely.
Would you be able to send me any information,
pictures, etc. about the hospital in which you
I would appreciate any information you could
possible send me.
Well, I guess I've said everything I wanted to
tell you. Thank you for making me aware of our
Dear Dr. Helfant,
When I was a young girl (and even now that I am an
adult) I couldn't tolerate watching war movies - -
the real scars and human devastation and the pain
in being hurt were never really shown. I felt boys
grew up thinking that war is all bravery, courage
and excitement; I felt boys saw themselves as the
hero who was never hurt and who never died.
Perhaps films shouldn't be too real, but our men
deserve an honest picture of the price of war they
may have to pay if they enter the military. Now,
through articles such as yours, our husbands,
fathers and sons have the opportunity to see the
whole picture of what war means. They can decide
if the cost of the "Cause" and the procedure of
the war to win the Cause are worth what they and
the families involved might suffer.
In the Vietnam War, I agree with you -- our finest
men are giving too much for something not worthy
of them. South Vietnam needs help, but not our
Thank you for having the courage to write this
article and I hope that President Nixon will
remember the high cost of political (or any) wars
to those who patriotically serve as well as those
who refuse to serve and split our country
Dear Dr. Helfant,
With blurring vision and bleeding heart - I read
your open letter to the President. With some hope
- I ask - will someone really listen and hear what
you are saying?
Blessings on you for writing your letter and LOOK
Magazine for publishing it.
Dear Murray H. Helfant:
I read your letter to the President. I wanted to
write to you so that you would know I read it.
What can I write to you? All I can do is do what
you have done, write, to all anyone who can stop
or do something that will end this war and never
again happen. Write, write, write that's what
everyone should do. It's all we can do. I wish
with all my heart that I could do more. I have
three boys. God help me.
Yours very truly,
p.s.. Thank you
Dear Dr. Helfant,
The letter you wrote to President Nixon, which was
published in the July 28th issue of LOOK Magazine,
is the strongest and most disturbing statement
concerning the war in Vietnam that I have ever
read or seen. Nothing has had as much impact as
your letter. It brings some of the very real
horror of the war home to us. It is one thing to
be against the war, to demonstrate, to contribute
money to oppose it, and quite another to feel
physically sick about it.
I was pleased and shocked that LOOK Magazine would
publish your letter. That is encouraging.
My husband, who is a member of the BEM (Business
Executives Move for Vietnam Peace), told me that
you will be a guest at a dinner they are giving
this fall., If so I hope that we will be able to
One of the most impressive things about the letter
you wrote was the rage it expressed. I hope that
you will continue to make such statement sand that
you won't forget what you have seen but will
continue to get other people to see these things.
I can't say I enjoyed the article you wrote since
it wasn't meant to be enjoyed - but it was superb
- an excellent statement of the waste. I could
hear you talking - most people don't have the
ability to make written expression of their
thoughts sound like them - I don't, I know - but
if someone had handed me the article and asked me
who wrote it, I could have answered with no
hesitation. Gary was quite impressed also. What
will the book be about? If it will be an expansion
of the same sort of material I wonder if you could
get hold of some "before" shots - like high school
annual pictures - to help impress the layman with
the fact that these really were "boys next door"
before they were needlessly mutilated. Maybe
that's a silly suggestion - only thing I thought
of though - wonder if Nixon ever saw it before it
was published. I imagine his mail is pretty well
screened. My baby-sitter was very excited - she
actually met someone who wrote an article in LOOK
- now we have to get the next issue to read the
Letters. Will they forward all the comments they
get to you? It would be interesting to see the
Dear Dr. Helfant,
Thank you for your courage. It is appreciated.
Dear, dear Murray Helfant,
These words cannot express what I feel.
I have just experienced your heart through words
and photographs. I have just read your article
that appeared in LOOK.
I feel a sadness, a blue teardrop that my heart
gave to humanity.
I haven't the words for what love is, what caring
is, but here is something from a now warm hand.
Bless you, bless you, this is for caring.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I read with interest and, of course, dismay your
letter to President Nixon that appeared in the
July 28th issue of LOOK. I have long been an
active opponent of the Vietnam War and militarism
in general and your letter could only serve to
reinforce my convictions on these matters.
At present I am finishing a doctorate in
philosophy at the New School for Social Research
in New York (though as you will note I live in
Belmont, Mass.) and am writing a thesis entitled
"Ethical Ambiguity and Political Violence." It
seems to me it would be helpful in my work if I
could meet you and talk with you about various
matters. I note your letter was written from
Boston and I wonder whether you live in this area.
I would also be able to meet you in New York as I
often visit there.
Perhaps it is of relevance to mention that I have
worked with the Committee of Responsibility and am
a friend of Dr. Bruce Gillette, the head of that
Dear Major Helfant,
This letter may go unnoticed in the flow of
praising mail that you undoubtedly received and
are receiving following your outstanding and
moving "Letter to the President" published in the
July 28th LOOK.
Millions of people - in fact the whole nation -
should be grateful to you for submitting such an
enlightening, well-written, first-hand report.
It takes courage, a clear mind and above all, a
deeply human heart to act the way you did and such
an article can only be written by a truly great
As you put it you owed it to all those men who
either died or, thanks to your care, pulled
through and kept on "living." It was indeed your
duty to them, to your country. I am convinced such
a letter was never addressed (and how regretful
that is!) to the President.
Such a piece of valuable information brought to
light should - and I hope it will- make those who
can do something about it think and hopefully stop
Congratulations and heartfelt thanks for telling
it like it is!
Most respectfully yours,
p.s. To conclude, may I only wish that those
indelible pictures blur and fade from your memory
to allow you the peace of min and serenity you
deserve. I know it is asking a lot but try to
concentrate of the "Lane of Peace" which you have
Dear Dr. Helfant,
As one who has been trying to mobilize anti-war
activities among his fellow professionals I can
only image the sort of letters you have been
receiving in response to your open letter to Mr.
Nixon. My own opinion is that it was one of the
finest and most powerfully relevant documents of
I have, to be quite honest, an ulterior motive in
writing to you. I teach anatomy (as a matter of
fact, mostly neuroanatomy) in the Department of
Speech Pathology and Audiology at Xxxxxx. It
happens that I am scheduled to chair a special
session at the Annual convention of the American
Speech and Hearing Association in New York City
this November. The session is entitled "The war
and social-moral-political involvement within the
profession," and one of its major purposes is to
force a relatively uninvolved (and conservative)
membership to an awareness the fact the Vietnam is
a matter of grave concern to the speech and
hearing rehabilitation specialist. Among others,
we will try to emphasize the same point that you
did, i.e. that CNS and maxillofacial destruction
is one major result of (or should it be generated
by?) our tragic involvement in Southeast Asia.
Maxillofacial and CNS trauma are out business too.
But, like most people, our members can blot the
ugly out of their collective mind. As part of our
convention program we hope to present audiovisual
reminders of the mutilation which this "non-war"
has produced; to present the repellent facts; to
force our complacent colleagues to take a stand
against such waster of human life.
Therefore, if possible, we would like to make use
of any photographs similar to those that appeared
in LOOK that you might be able to provide. We
require slides, but we will make them from prints
if that is what is available. Should you have
transparencies we will bear the expense of
reproducing them. The materials will be used with
a professional audience; we are not intending to
provide a sensational display for the layman. But
our members need a jolt back to reality, away from
the rhetoric of the Pentagon. Your photos are, I
think, "just what the doctor ordered."
While I am, of course, hopeful that you will
decide to lend us your support I appreciate your
consideration in any case. Congratulations again
on your letter.
I am a senior girl in high school and I need some
I was looking through the July 28, 1970 issue of
LOOK Magazine and came across your article "A
Letter to the President." I must say I have never
been so moved by an article. Maybe it was the
pictures but whatever it was it got through to me.
Therefore I have decided to do some research on
In my psychology class we are required to do a
project and mine is going to be on the
psychological effects of losing a limb or sight or
any other essential part of our anatomy. I can
only imagine the suffering that these men go
through and I know that maybe my project will not
help these men directly but I would like to make
more people aware the situation. Although my
project will play a small part in fighting this
war my plans for the future are to graduate from
nursing school and join one off the services where
I will be able to help more directly.
You therefore, Dr. Helfant, can help me in this
way. I know it is impossible for you to come and
speak to my class so I'll have to settle for the
next best thing. I would like to know anything and
everything about these men that you can tell me. I
realize that is asking a lot from you and if you
feel that this is not worth your time please do
not hesitate to disregard my letter. However, I
feel you must be interested or you wouldn't have
taken the time to write your "letter." I really
appreciate your time and help and I assure you
that it won't be wasted because I think it is
about time that some people started waking up to
I think you know better than I what information
will be of most benefit so I will leave that up to
you. I cannot tell you how much it will mean to me
and maybe other people too. I thank you sincerely,
Very truly yours,
Dear Doctor Helfant,
Your "Letter to the President" has vividly
depicted the tragedy of seriously war-damaged. In
some communities traffic violators are forced to
watch motion pictures showing accident victims.
Perhaps we should expose war-lovers to the
mutilated existing (not living) in back wards of
VA hospitals and custodial care units. More voices
must be raised and more "horror" military hospital
pictures must be shown to overcome our apparent
tolerance and indifference to violence and war far
away. Thank you for having the courage to speak
Dear Major Helfant:
I read your letter in LOOK Magazine. It was a
letter to the President. I'm thirteen years of age
and have for the last year or so wanted to be a
nurse in surgery. There are two reasons, the main
reason is to help other people, the other is I'm
interested in the human body. I think it is the
most wonderful thing for you and other men going
over there and helping these men. And I'm sure
they (the patients) are most grateful to you. I
was very impressed with your letter. I seemed to
stop and look at the pictures forever, especially
the one where the leg is amputated. I have read
the letter more than once, because I found it so
interesting. I also found some things I missed the
time before. What I'm really asking you is if
could write and send me some more pictures, if
this is at all possible. I don't want to force
you, but I'm really really interested in this kind
of stuff. I'll say it again I think it is the most
wonderful thing you could do. I can hardly express
my feelings, but I think you understand.
Thank you for taking time to read my letter.
p.s. In one of my classes we (our class) are
studying first aid. This will be very helpful in
the near future.
Dear Dr. Helfant,
I read with marked appreciation your recent letter
to the President. Perhaps appropriately, I read
the article while in Vietnam where I served as a
Medical Service Corps officer assigned to an
infantry battalion of the Americal Division. It is
not beyond the realm of possibility that our
battalion "generated" a number of the casualties
about whom you were writing, since the 249th
General Hospital was a frequent layover point for
many of those who suddenly found their tours, and
in many cases, their life-expectancies shortened.
It would be no great distinction, in this age of
dissent, to proclaim my opposition to United
States involvement in the Republic of Vietnam or
her neighboring countries. Indeed, dissent and
"causes" of one type or another are enjoying
unparalleled popularity. Unfortunately popularity
is sometimes quite costly -- it often obscures or
is a detriment to the cause to which the movements
are dedicated. But a discussion of the relative
merits of cultural fads is not the purpose of this
The point I wish to make is that my attitudes have
changed somewhat as a result of my personal
involvement in the war, though certainly not in
the direction of approval. Prior to my assignment
in Vietnam my opposition to the war was primarily
predicated upon a loose collection of attitudes
and impressions I had gained, unsystematically,
from ingesting public information. It was not
especially difficult to toy, in relative
isolation, with abstract principles, opinion, and
obscure facts. It was more difficult, however, to
become wholly committed to a stand derived from
abstraction. A year in Vietnam transformed
abstractions into reality. Here, I think, is the
major contribution made by your article. It is one
thing to be familiar with casualty figures; it is
yet another thing to grasp their full meaning and
significance. Death in abstraction is not so bad.
In this light it can be thought of as a sporting
event, the score or numbers representing the final
outcome -- "killing by the numbers kills no one in
particular." It's O.K. as long as we score more
than the opposing team. It's entirely too easy to
fail to realize that each digit in a casualty
figure represents a human being -- a living,
breathing, thinking, feeling creature whose life
may have been tragically altered or abruptly
terminated by another human being who wore a
different uniform. While in Vietnam four of my men
were killed. I knew them. I wonder if they knew
for what they were dying and if they would feel
proud to know that they gave their lives so that
President Nixon could continue saying that America
has never lost a war. I wonder about the others
too -- those who went home with something less
that that with which they started.
We who experience at some level the realities of
this war, we who have seen the waste, the pain,
the utter futility, perhaps have an obligation to
impart to others the realities of our experiences.
I applaud your efforts in this area and encourage
you to continue. As I am now personally committed
in opposition to the war, I would be most
interested in participating in any constructive,
responsible activities whose end it is to bring
about our disengagement. Any information or
suggestions you may care to impart would be most
With best regards,
Dear Bud -
A few days ago as Tony was waiting to see a doctor
he read a July issue of LOOK and recalled your
name as the only one to send him a follow-up while
in Vietnam. He brought the article home to show
me. I've just finished reading it and feel the
familiar ache in my jaw. Tho' the crying out I
prevent thereby is not for the wounded you
describe - more it's you, and Tony, and
remembering the terrible bitterness and horror and
the never getting well. The rest I know, have seen
and heard and somewhat felt but reading that with
your name on it I can't get beyond you, and so
It's a bit difficult to go on with - new paragraph
- news of the day - but it is as follows.
We live twenty miles from Xxxx, where Tony has a
fellowship with the transplant service at the
medical school. I'm teaching English at a college
nearby. We're living in an old two-room house (old
- as in heat being a Franklin stove) with a
beautiful view of Mt. Hood, Rainier, St. Helen's
and Adams. We keep two horses and other beasts on
our twelve acre hilltop. We've just fixed up a
rented cabin at the base of Mt. Hood - since after
the year before last in Colorado we are hooked on
skiing. We'll probably move again when Tony's
fellowship is over in September - but haven't made
any plans as to where. We still have a feeling
Maine is home, tho' it's beautiful here.
Perhaps the difference in the two parts of this
letter is an indication of a reaction to Tony's
years in the army.
I really don't know you anyway, but today I think
I do, or did once. If not - still - I admire your
courage in writing that - very much.
I've been meaning and meaning to write - but, of
course, haven't. I read your article in LOOK - and
if I had the prestige would have endorsed it.
Thanks so much for writing words so well. I hope
by now you have been able to satisfy those
frustrated feelings and rectify the hurt - in some
Was discharged from our Uncle's service in Sept.
(15th) and spent a month of so traveling. Landed
home in order to earn some money before traveling
again. Am presently in respiratory intensive care
- mostly because they have no neuro in Xxxx.
Gosh, how I love our field - and am anxious to get
back to it.
The man I work for (Dr. Brian O'Sullivan) is so
much like you that I call him "Murray" just for
the heck of it. Dry sense of humor - and sarcasm -
coupled with obvious sensitivity.
Hope all is well with your wife and children. I'd
like to stop in to see you and your hospital some
time in future,
p.s. Bernice is on her way back from the Army and
RVN - and has suggested we start our own hospital.
Have you any opening thereabouts for neurosurgical
We were all going to write that letter when we
got home, but only you did. Everyone I've talked
to all agree 100%, but none of us could have been
so eloquent. You got an audience and I'm sure are
responsible for the oh so small changes. Let's
hope the changes mushroom in '71 so there is no
need for a 249th or another war victim.
We were in Boston and wanted to call to pay
respects but everything happened quickly and
called no one. Had talked to Lewis before the
meeting and did get to have dinner with him. Next
time we will at least call to say Hi, and if you
come this way don't pull a "no time to visit.".
Hi to all and keep in touch.