Dear Urban Outfitters:
I was nine years old in 1966 when my father, Staff Sgt. David P. Spears, was killed in Vietnam Ia Drang Valley. I can’t tell you all the ways in which his death altered the course of our lives, individually, and as a family. I tried to sum it up in my memoir AFTER THE FLAG HAS BEEN FOLDED (Wm. Morrow/HarperCollins). Perhaps you and your staff will take the time to read the book because it is clear that you do not have an institutional knowledge of the Vietnam War and its impact upon this nation.
Your Kent State top is done in such poor taste. I am stupefied by the sheer callousness that went into the marketing of such an item. What’s next – sweatshirts depicting the bloodbath of Sandy Hook?
I have taught the history of Kent State to students at university as part of a First Amendment course. Most of the students I’ve taught have no knowledge that protests against the Vietnam War led to deaths at Kent State. I assume this is the demographic you intended to “target” for your marketing campaign.
In so doing, you have taken a very sorrowful part of our nation’s history, and my family’s history, and the history for millions of Americans who served during the Vietnam War and trivialized it. Like a trinket hawker at the county fair, you have taken the bloodshed and turned it into blood money.
I hope you will reconsider your poor decision-making. I hope you will donate those proceeds to the Vietnam Wall Memorial Fund Education Center:http://www.vvmf.org/education-center. For it is clear that we need to teach future generations the history of America’s War in Vietnam so they can avoid the type of embarrassing and hurtful missteps you have just made.
Karen Spears Zacharias
author/journalist/speaker Gold Star Daughter. Line 71 Panel 9E