As the nation recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, two veterans of that war are front-runners for high office: John Kerry for secretary of state and Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense. Unfortunately, neither one possesses the exceptional qualities of the typical Vietnam veteran. Both are willing pawns of a president who has no clue on foreign relations and is emasculating our military – our surest guarantor of peace and the one governmental institution that still works.
Hagel, who once denounced the ambassadorial appointment of a homosexual and homosexual conduct in the military under "don't ask don't tell," now supports a quad sexual (homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual and transgender) military. As a tribute to his loyalty and military prescience, he turned on his commander in chief, President Bush, denouncing the war in Iraq, which he voted for, and called President Bush's successful surge "the most dangerous foreign-policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." He also said, "Our relationship with Israel is special and historic. ... But it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships." Our relationship with Israel, by definition, affects our relationship with Arabs and Muslims. Change one and you change the other, which may be Obama's goal.
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Hagel joins political turncoats such as Sen. James Webb who sniff out media opinion and polls to determine what they believe and to fulfill their selfish ambitions. This man is an opportunist and a mediaphobe low on character and conviction.
But with all his shortfalls, Vietnam veteran Hagel cannot match the duplicity and dishonor of our most infamous Vietnam veteran, John Kerry. Kerry once defined patriotism as "keeping faith with those who wear the uniform of this country." By his own definition he is not a patriot. In his bid for the presidency, he often played the "hero" card – but 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 terrorist-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.
The very day 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.
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Kerry 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. 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 goodness and 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 one's 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. What Kerry/Fonda and the media elite did to the Vietnam veteran and his family is deplorable. 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.
Sen. 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 whom 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 four months for three 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.
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All the commanders I know would get out of a hospital bed to be with their men. Today I see limbless troops, struggling to recuperate, with one goal – return to their fellow warriors. Someone had to take Kerry's 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 witnessed Kerry's actions, and served their time, deplore his desertion of his command. His abuse of veterans and misuse of his medals should bring into serious question his loyalty, integrity and character, all of which equal leadership. He is not fit for high office.
Sadly these are exactly the kind of men one would expect President Obama to select, men lacking leadership qualities, political grovelers who fit perfectly with the Obama/Panetta doctrine defined by Panetta to excuse the disaster at Benghazi: "(The) basic principle is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on; without having some real-time information about what's taking place. …" That statement is a contradiction of the ethos of this country and every warrior who ever fought for it.
By that standard there would have been no Normandy or Inchon. In fact I cannot think of a war we fought in which we did not go into harm's way without real-time information; or to save lives – something the president and secretary of defense refused to do in Benghazi. It contradicts the essence of compassion and courage, the foundation of all our wars – indeed, even of policeman and fireman.
We need a secretary of state who denounces the Obama/Panetta doctrine, who would not have abandoned the Americans at Benghazi. Kerry is not that man; he abandoned his command in Vietnam. We need a secretary of defense who reflects the character and conviction of the warriors in the Department of Defense, Hagel is not that man.