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Symphony for the Sons of 'Nam

Posted at 3:25 PM on November 11, 2008 by Fred Child (2 Comments)

James "Kimo" Williams was 20 years old when he was sent to Vietnam in 1970 as a combat engineer. He was in country for 11 months.

When he came home, he was reluctant to talk about what he had seen, and what he had done. For more than 15 years, he evaded those questions.

Williams found a way to process his emotions, and come to peace with his experience: write some music. He wrote a string quartet, which he then turned into a piece for orchestra. A piece that came to be called his "Symphony for the Sons of Nam," dedicated to the men and women who served in Vietnam.


Williams' symphony was a regular part of Performance Today programs on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in the 1990s. We're honored to bring it back for Veterans Day 2008.

Here's Kimo Williams talking about the genesis of the Symphony for the Sons of Nam.

The original CD releases of the Symphony for the Sons of 'Nam have been discontinued. But you can still get it on CD, directly from Kimo Williams' website. Look for the CD "Buffalo Soldiers."

By the way, if all you know about Kimo Williams is this symphony, you might be surprised to learn about another side of his musical personality. He's a rock and blues guitarist, and he devotes those talents to Veterans' causes, as well. Check out the Lt. Dan Band, with Kimo Williams and Gary Sinese, who played the character Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.


Gary Sinese front and center, Kimo Williams on the far right.

Comments ( 2 )


Thank you for your presentation of this work. Also, the original CD, Symphony For The Sons of Nam is actually available at my site: littlebeckmusic.com.
On the subject of veterans, I am giving The Nam symphony to any Vietnam Veteran for a penny at the site as well.

As a co-founder of the Lt. Dan Band I have performed all over the world for the troops and their families. Remembering my days in Nam, I know what it means to have a connection to home and how music can be the conduit not only as entertainment but also provide an emotional lift that helps a service member through the day. I will never forget the Bob Hope Show I attended and how he made us all feel so important to the folks back home. That was the goal of Gary and myself when we put this band together in 2004. We have been going strong performing for the USO and are set to continue in 2009.

Our veterans are the lifeline to the realities of freedom and we must never forget that. Thanks to you and NPR for bringing a special tribute to this special day. I am so proud to have my music a part of that tribute.

Kimo Williams

Posted by Kimo Williams | November 12, 2008 12:24 AM

Thank you for the show honoring America's Veterans. My father-in-law served in the early days of the Vietnam conflict. He, like Mr. Williams, never shared much about his time overseas. He passed away a little more than a year ago. Unfortunately, he never did open up much about this time. I wish he could have heard this Symphony, and been able to share with his family about his service days. I do know his time served made him a strong man, and great patriot. He went on to a 30+ year career in education, so his legacy will live forever through our family and in all the lives he touched as a teacher.

Thank you PT for the moving show, Kimo for the beautiful piece of music, and to all our Veterans. Most importantly, thank you David (my father-in-law) for being such a great man. We will love you forever.

Posted by Mark Steinbeck | November 12, 2008 1:07 PM

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