Guest Op-Ed by Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady 16 Aug 04The rest is continued in the Extended Section.
America has no kings or queens but we do have nobility – our nobility is called Veterans. That nobility is responsible for the bounty that is America but tragically their influence has faded in recent years and the values they died for are under attack. But this election year they are back in demand and some have said the veteran vote could decide this election. It may have put Bush in the White House. With this in mind, John Kerry is seldom seen with out his band of brothers and constantly plays the” hero” card as a cornerstone of his bid for president, indeed, as the definition of who he is. Kerry defines patriotism as “keeping faith with those who wear the uniform of this country. He also brags that he “defended this country as a young man”. If Missouri is the show me state, Veterans are the show me voters – we are not much for words, deeds are our stock in trade. Lets look at Kerry’s deeds.
Before Kerry played his “hero” card, he played the atrocity card. When Kerry came back from Vietnam he joined with Jane Fonda and in 1971 denounced “those who wear the uniform” as terrorists-like rapists and assassins who “cut off heads, taped wires … to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, shot at civilians, razed villages, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks” … and said he “committed the same kinds of atrocities as thousands of others”. He made these charges under oath. Kerry says today that he would have framed some of what he said in 1971 differently. But he does not say he lied, which he did, nor does he apologize. How can one properly frame the denunciations of ones comrades in arms as modern day Genghis Khans?
The very day that Kerry was calling Vietnam veterans’ war criminals the family of one of those “war criminals”, Michael Blanchfield, was posthumously receiving the Medal of Honor for Michael who had thrown himself on a grenade to save the lives of his comrades. How different from Kerry was the way this man kept faith with those who wore the uniform with him. How different from Kerry was the manner Michael defended his country.
He could have attacked the war without attacking the warrior. He could have questioned policy without supporting the communists’ claim that our soldiers were war criminals. He could have kept faith with those who wore the uniform with him. But he did not and he should be held accountable...
By every measure, the Vietnam veteran has been an exceptional citizen; but there is one disturbing statistic -- their suicide rate. In the first 5 years after discharge the rate was 1.7 times higher than non-veterans. After 5 years it was less. This may have been due to the treatment the Vietnam veteran received from the media – and the anti war movement led by Kerry -- in the early years after the war. Living with the scars of war is difficult, for some unbearable, but all veterans suffer. The Vietnam veteran suffered physically as much, perhaps more than any veteran of the past century, but no veteran has suffered the mental agony of that veteran.(Newsletter link courtesy of Bill T.)
What Kerry/Fonda and the media elite did to the Vietnam veteran and his family is deplorable. They opened a gash in his psyche and then rubbed salt in it. Not just the living but also those who died and their families who questioned if a loved one is a war criminal. And the POWs some who believed the Kerry/Fonda cartel extended the war, increased their torture and filled more body bags. Whether Kerry and Fonda have blood on their hands is debatable but there is no doubt they have salt on them.
Kerry’s “hero” card is based on medals he received in Vietnam and is much celebrated, and unchallenged, by the mainstream media. I know many Medal of Honor recipients who have received less publicity for their medal than Kerry has for his. But medals don’t make a hero. It is how one uses medals that make a hero. Every honest soldier knows that medals are a function of circumstance, even happenstance, but most of all the support of ones fellow warriors.
I was awarded the Medal of Honor; but my fellow soldiers who supported me in the actions and took the time to write it up earned it. I wear it for them, they own my medals. And every Medal of Honor recipient and hero I know believes as I do. Medals should be a sign of patriotism, a symbol of sacrifice, support and defense of a great nation. The highest form of patriotism is service to our youth; heroes also wear their medal for them to signal the importance of courage. Heroes do not use their medals for personal political gain. As I said they are not theirs to use.
Senator Kerry threw his medals away (or ribbons, they are symbolically the same), a political act very difficult for any veteran to understand. He must have been proud of them for he wore them even on his fatigues, in violation of all regulations. But they were not his. They belonged to those who he served. By that act he symbolically denounced his fellow veterans -- again. Does one keep faith with those who wear the uniform by throwing away their medals?
But perhaps most telling of his leadership qualities is his use of his Purple hearts to abandon his band of brothers, his command, on a technicality. Kerry may be the only person in history who took advantage of a Navy regulation that allowed him to leave his command after 4 months for 3 purple hearts none of which ever caused him to miss a day of duty. In my experience men fought to stay with their band of brothers, especially commanders. All the commanders I know would get out of a hospital bed to be with their men. Some one had to take his place; someone probably less experienced who would have to learn the ropes. That put his command more at risk than if he stayed. It is not hard to understand why those who stayed in combat for the full year are upset with Kerry.
And veterans today would be upset with Kerry’s support of Flag Burning his non-support of weapons systems and his 12 votes against military pay raises. But his use of veterans and mis use of his medals should bring into serious question his loyalty, integrity and character all of which equal leadership.
He is not fit for command.
Update: Cassandra at I Love Jet Noise has another hero's words about Kerry (and a Senator, too). Thanks to Greyhawk for the link.