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Why We're in Vietnam

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"Why We're in Vietnam" is a short story written by Stephen King that was first published his 1999 collection Hearts in Atlantis.

The title is a reference to Norman Mailer's 1967 novel Why Are We in Vietnam?


The story describes a reunion of two veterans, one being John Sullivan, at the funeral of a third and recounts an incident that almost escalated into a My Lai Massacre involving a former student and player in the Hearts game in "Hearts in Atlantis," Ronnie Malenfant. Throughout the story, Sullivan sees an old Vietnamese woman, "mama-san" whom Ronnie killed during this incident. In the end Sullivan dies of an apparent heart attack during a traffic jam on the way home.

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