Letter: Spotlight on patriotism

Gen. Perry Smith, thank for your service!


I appreciated your assessment of the Ken Burns PBS series on the Vietnam War (“War torn,” Oct. 15). Your attention to detail was evident and well done. I agree with your assessment overall and was also disappointed with the prominence given to the VVAW and a number of American communists.

Having graduated from Artillery OCS class 1-67 in late 1966, and then voluntarily serving two consecutive tours of Vietnam with the 1st Cav Div (AM) from Oct ‘67-Dec ‘69, I have some firsthand knowledge of the war as well as an appreciation for our great nation and her military.

While the most vocal in our nation would shut down all praise for our military, I would call everyone’s attention to the Freedom Gallery, located on the campus of the Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton.

It was my privilege to attend the dedication of the gallery in 2016 that honors those American soldiers who have proudly served, and who continue to serve our nation. In particular, the gallery honors an OCS classmate, Second Lt. Harold “Pinky” Durham, who died on Oct. 17, 1967, in the battle of Ong Thanh, RVN. Second Lt. Durham is featured in the book by David Maraniss, They Marched into Sunlight, and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his selfless service to his country and his comrades in arms.

What a great privilege it is to be part of the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College annual celebration, to see American patriotism at its finest, and to be in the presence of like-minded men and women. Dr. David Bridges, ABAC’s president, deserves much of the credit and has been a driving force behind the gallery.

There is strong connection to the CSRA as well, with Lt. Durham’s niece, Dianna Blount, and Pinky’s boyhood friend, Pastor Bill Harrell, both living in the area.

I salute you, Gen. Smith, and all our fellow soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and Coast Guard veterans who have served, and who are yet serving our great country. May we all be united in prayer to God Almighty to direct the minds and spirits of those who lead us in the affairs of our government and the people of our land.

Michael Valadez




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