A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America

By William H. Chafe; Harvard Sitkoff et al. | Go to book overview

We Were Soldiers Once …
and Young

Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore

Joseph L. Galloway

The Vietnam Memorial, a wall of polished black granite bearing the name of each and every American who fell in Vietnam, graphically illustrates the toll of the war in loss and heartbreak. The names are listed in the order that the men died, and the wall begins low, with just a handful of names from the years before 1960. It rises to tower above the people who stand reading the names before tapering down again with the names of those who died toward the end of the war.

It was on November 14, 1965, in Vietnam’s Ia Drang Valley, that American servicemen began dying in large numbers. In the following excerpt from We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry and the only journalist with the battalion tell the story of the first major battle of America’s Vietnam War. Writing from hindsight, they attempt to show us a moment in time, a “watershed year when one era was ending in America and another was beginning.”


PROLOGUE

In thy faint slumbers I by thee have watch’d And heard thee murmur tales of iron wars …

—Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, Act II, Scene 3

This story is about time and memories. The time was 1965, a different kind of year, a watershed year when one era was ending in America and another was beginning. We felt it then, in the many ways our lives

-250-

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