to Lisa Lyden, of KOAA-TV News 5 in Colorado Springs.
I am writing to you regarding our local author, W. Tom Gleeson,
a Vietnam War Veteran. I believe his works are timeless, relevant,
and necessary. They should be required reading for not only every
American, but most importantly, should be shared with the many
military families living in our community.
His historical-fictional novels, “Warriors and Widows”
and “The Indomitable Spirits of 43C” (released last
year), were shared with me by my oldest sister, Dianne, who had
gone through grade school and high school with Tom. Before reading
these two works at the age of 57, I had never read a book about
war of any kind. I chose to read these two in particular because
I wanted to understand Vietnam from the perspective of someone
I would trust.
The insights shared in these pages are invaluable in explaining
how and why so many of our veterans come home unable to communicate—at
times even marginally—with their loved ones. My hope is
that through Tom’s words, loved ones will come to know their
veterans, and our veterans will come to know that they are not
alone in their anguish. Tom’s story is easily their story.
The years of silence and heartache experienced by our veterans—their
inability to explain the atrocities they have witnessed—must
be better understood by each American. War makes no distinction
of time and place in the marks it leaves on the psyche. These
stories allow for a greater understanding –a knowing, for
everyone—veterans, their loved ones, family and friends…from
a voice from deep within.
Part of my email to Tom might better describe their impact on
Dianne offered to share Warriors and Widows with me, I became
interested in knowing about your personal experience of Vietnam.
I recalled memories of you from a child's perspective, as I was
9 when you were in Vietnam. Prior to reading your books, my thoughts
and memories about Vietnam were related mostly to friends of (my
sister) Laurie's in the late 1960's--many of whom were soldiers
returning from the war. I remember how stressed they seemed. I
also remember receiving letters without stamps, creating a few
"care packages" to send with ‘Funny Face’drink
mix, and cookies in them, seeing horrible things on the nightly
news, and wearing a POW/MIA bracelet for quite a while when I
was a bit older.
Reading each of your books, I was conflicted with really wanting
to know and understand how you perceived that whole experience,
and being saddened by everything that had to be endured. I really
believed that the men would be triumphant in their own way--at
least I hoped they would, and I found myself anxious to know sooner
than later--I could hardly put the books down...
Your story has had a profound effect on me and the way I now understand
the very personal parts of that historic event through your eyes.
The personal sacrifices were monumental to each of you who served
What I thought would be reading a few books and sharing some thoughts
with my sister, became a personal journey of acknowledging the
reality of what you and so many others experienced, and how it
has shaped your lives and the lives of those you have loved. It
ultimately taught me that in this life I must look at the hard
truths and stark realities that affect each one of us...not just
through my eyes, but through theirs. I can't turn a blind eye
to the things that I feel are sad or tragic and pretend they don't
exist in my world...because they do.
I find it difficult to fully express how deeply your story has
impacted my soul. It is a welcome and necessary awareness.”
Lisa, please find a way to share these wonderful books with your
viewers. These stories are not only timeless, but also relevant
to our Veterans, their families, and to the American people. They
are told simply and eloquently, and they truly spare undue trauma
to the reader. They had neither sensationalism nor unnecessary
violence within them, however, the realities and sentiments were
Tom’s insights bring clearly to the forefront the psychic
toll that comes from fighting for our Country. My hope is that
the multitudes might not only appreciate our Veterans, but also
better understand them and embrace them—helping them heal
through our compassion, understanding and gratitude.
You can find more information about Tom and his books at: www.wtomgleeson.com.
I have copies of both books that I would gladly lend you if you
would like to read them. Your help with this enlightening message
would be greatly appreciated.