Historical Highlight for July 9, 2023

Historical Highlight for July 9, 2023 – “It’s Time to Go Public” – here’s a short historical fact from the history of the Vietnam war and the POW experience shared in the new Captured by Love book. In each of these nuggets of history are personal and professional lessons that can be applied today:

“In early 1969, it became clear that the incoming Nixon administration would stand beside the POW/MIA wives who were stepping up and speaking out. By March the new Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, began addressing the POW/MIA issue. President Nixon joined in and very shortly our government began working on initiatives to encourage the wives and families and to hold the North Vietnamese accountable for their non-compliance with the Geneva Conventions.


Within a few weeks Laird’s staff was meeting with the POW/MIA wives to hear their concerns. And by late spring he and his team held a press conference to clarify a new DOD and State Department position regarding POW/MIA treatment.


There was a new game in town—to the delight of the wives and families, it was no longer unofficially “Keep Quiet.” It was now officially called “Go Public.”


Dr. Roger Shields was appointed Chairman of the DOD POW/MIA Task Group, and he immediately developed a strong bond with the National League of POW/MIA Families. His leadership contributed greatly to the success of the Go Public efforts to get awareness and support for our cause.


As the Paris Peace negotiations dragged along so did the war, but by 1972, US troop strength was down from 535,000 to just 25,000. At this point, the wives and families had a mounting concern that the war might end without their men coming home.


So, in 1972 when the negotiations stalled, Sybil Stockdale, Phyllis Galanti, and MIA wife Maureen Dunn met again with the president to reinforce the need for POW/MIA release to be one of the highest priorities in any negotiations.


Fortunately, President Nixon listened and agreed. When negotiations did not work, he launched the Christmas bombing campaign of 1972…and 11 days later the communists agreed to end the war and release the POWs.”


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