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Gloria Emerson (1929-2004)

August 14, 2004

When I decided to drop out of West Point and become a writer, I had no idea how to do what I had determined to do--which was to write the unvarnished truth about our military misadventure in Indochina. A tremendous influence on my bumbling transition from warrior to writer was Gloria Emerson, the legendary reporter on the Vietnam War, who died in New York on August 3.

Gloria swooped into my life, virtually from the war zones she covered for The New York Times, to see what an offbeat little group of veterans was doing compiling a poetry anthology.

Her enthusiastic support and networking helped launch Winning Hearts & Minds: War Poems by Vietnam Veterans to a national audience.

When making a living as a newly minted poet quickly collapsed, I was lured by Gloria's dead-on brand of war reporting into an affair with journalism that grew into a career.

As a flurry of emails and phone calls flew in the wake of her death, I discovered how many lives of poets and writers and other folks she touched. And with a swooping sensation of grief and insight, I realized another legacy from Gloria (and that it's been a good calling)--assisting others struggling with the demands of writing as best I can.

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