WASHINGTON — For years, Patty Lee didn’t speak about her father; her mother never discussed him with her six children.
But Sgt. 1st Class Delbert C. Totty hadn’t done anything wrong. The unspoken truth was that he was killed in action in Vietnam when Lee was 12 years old.
“We all grew up in silence,” Lee said of a generation of children whose fathers died in a war many wanted to forget. “We didn’t talk about Vietnam, we didn’t talk about our fathers.”
It’s difficult to fathom in this age of solemn homages to troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and warm welcomes when they come home safely, but for the children of Vietnam veterans, the fate of their fathers was often a dark secret.