The "winter soldiers" were heroes ofthe Vietnam War. Public testimony was part of an effort to recover from combat trauma, and perhaps there was a hope for atonement as weIl. But the hearings were primarily an act of citizenship, an attempt to force on the American public a recognition of what was going on in Vietnam. As one veteran put it, the willed incomprehension offriends and family and ofparticipants in public discussion ofthe war impelled him to speak. "The fact that they didn't want to know," he dedared, "told me they had to know."1