widow, and I am appalled at Mr. Kerry's latest assertions that our president
"has reopened the wounds of Vietnam." For months, I've heard
President Bush talking about the present, while Mr. Kerry and the media
want to focus on the past. I think we need to see the whole picture.
critics of American foreign policy have claimed they "support the
troops"--but they're obviously hoping we have short memories. Many
of us will never forget the hundreds of lawyers they dispatched to Florida
in 2000 to make sure military absentee ballots did not get counted (some
sources say that two out of three military voices in Florida were never
heard). That was after the Clinton administration initiated rules making
it more difficult to vote on overseas military bases.
Mr. Kerry and his party overwhelmingly oppose Pentagon funding and equipment,
and make life miserable for our services on Capitol Hill. The liberals
who sneered at the concept of duct tape keeping us safe last year are
the same congressmen who find it acceptable when our brave and resourceful
Marines must use it to hold together 40-year-old helicopters in combat.
My brother Jay, a CH-46 pilot, used it during the first Gulf War, and
our guys are still flying those same helicopters a decade later. Mr. Kerry
has tried to distance himself from some anti-war activists and surround
himself with veterans, yet his anti-military voting record speaks much
louder and resonates with those of us who are affected by the results.
Kerry supporters are the ones who would applaud my high school social
studies teacher, a draft dodger who in 1976 banished me to the library
for the duration of our Vietnam unit because I questioned his one-sided
presentation of our troops as baby killers. Dare I say, these are the
same people who spat on our guys back in the 1960s and disdained them
in the '70s. These were the people who in 1992 mocked Ross Perot's running
mate, Adm. James Stockdale, a true hero and former prisoner of war, after
his hearing aid (legacy of Viet Cong torture masters) gave him trouble
during a televised debate. They downplayed Bob Dole's military service
in 1996. And these are the same people who just last year yelled antimilitary
slurs at dependents driving vehicles with Defense Department stickers--even
picked on military kids about what their daddies did for a living. These
are the Americans who love to enjoy the liberties of our land, yet have
little understanding about those who actually risk their lives to ensure
they exist. Until, of course, their candidate can claim that service on
his résumé, and then they know all about us.
As the kid of a real war hero who did not come back, I'd like to comment
not on Kerry's service, but his postservice activities. Vietnam Veterans
Against the War, Mr. Kerry's organization of choice when he returned from
his shortened tour of duty in Vietnam (and his springboard to fame), was
known to me even as a child. The organization, while providing a place
for angst-ridden vets to land after coming home, had an awful effect on
those of us who lost our fathers.
It was bad enough to hear our dads criticized by those who hated the military,
but to hear vets allege rampant war crimes and call their fellow soldiers
evil before all the world really twisted the knife. Mr. Kerry led the
way, proud in the company of Jane Fonda and others we believed had caused
the deaths of good men. This group's testimony tarnished honorable actions.
After taking the oath to preserve and protect, they grandstanded, throwing
service awards in a show of defiance that diminished each sacrifice. Their
stories dominated while the stories of thousands of honorable vets went
untold. I don't hold it against them after so many years, but I'm dead
sure I don't want their darling Kerry, the man who voted against funding
our guys in Operation Iraqi Freedom, to be our next commander in chief.
In 2004, nothing is more important than continuing to protect America
and fight terrorism. President Bush has led, not perfectly but earnestly.
He has put much on the line to do what he believes is right. And he needs
our continued support in the months to come. Ms. Armstrong is a freelance
writer in Atlanta and mother of two.
Copyright © 2004 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
to T.O.C. 3