Albert Ondrish Sr. [letters, Aug. 21] repeated the old lie that war protesters were somehow responsible for our defeat in Vietnam.

It was not dishonorable for veterans to oppose the war in Vietnam, nor did we spit on returning troops.

Among the many frighten- ing aspects of today's America is the attitude that peaceful dissent from government policy is somehow unpatriotic.

H.R. COURSEN

Brunswick, Maine

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Albert Ondrish Sr. said that John F. Kerry's antiwar activities "dishonored me, my brothers and all those in the military who served and sacrificed in this country's wars." I would suggest that the opposite is true.

If one reads the full text of Mr. Kerry's testimony on Capitol Hill, rather than just the snippets taken out of context by the current smear campaign, it becomes apparent that Mr. Kerry was defending his brothers in arms and asking Congress to bring an end to the unjustified presence of the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was asking that those otherwise honorable men and women not be required to participate in a conflict that brought out the worst in human behavior, because there was no reason for us to be there other than the egotistical chest beating of a few powerful men.

More than 58,000 names are engraved on the granite wall of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. How many more names would be there if there hadn't been opposition at home to the unwarranted sacrifice of our brave service men and women?

K. LAMONTE JOHN

Burke

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John F. Kerry's Vietnam testimony in the early '70s has embittered certain veterans, but for many of us who opposed the Vietnam War, his speaking out brought hope and perspective and added legitimacy to our concerns.

Even more important, it was because of Mr. Kerry that many of us first understood that the divide between soldier and protester didn't have to be deep or absolute. That's a message that still bears repeating.

SUZANNE FREEMAN

Charlottesville