‘‘For us,’’ he said, ‘‘they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sanh.’’
The siege of Khe Sanh, in the first months of 1968, was one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. It lasted 77 days and claimed about 200 American lives, according to official U.S. figures. Some accounts put the death toll much higher. The siege, and the Tet Offensive that started around the same time, helped turn American public opinion against the war.
Obama’s reference to Khe Sanh was brief, but it was probably noticed by millions of Americans some who fought in the war, some who protested against the war, and some who just remember that agonizing time in American history.
In listing Khe Sanh with three epic battles for American freedom, Obama as much as said: We’re past one generation’s long political divide over Vietnam. What we remember, what we honor, is the sacrifice of more than 58,000 American soldiers who died and tens of thousands who were wounded.
That was a nice touch in a fine speech summoning Americans to find courage for the days — and battles — ahead.