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August 26, 2004

Quotation of the Rotation.

Claire made this post at Sondra Ks which generated a very thoughtful response from a Vietnam Vet named Peter.

Like all veterans of all wars, regardless of branch of service or duty stations, we all lost friends there. Some of those we lost were closer than brothers. Unlike other wars in our history we didn't go over together and come home together, our individual wars ended individually.

Unlike other wars we came home branded by a large segment of our society as war criminals, by another segment as losers. Then, as most of us were already home, one of our own officers branded us all, including the dead that we were just beginning to mourn, as war criminals, murderers and rapists.

We later discovered that many of those that he was quoting as witnesses to our 'crimes' had not spent one day in uniform. Others had never served in Viet Nam. None of them, not a single one, would testify under oath, even if granted immunity. Yet our 'crimes' became part of the common knowlege. Our children were given that testimony as fact in their history classes. We all knew soldiers, sailors,airmen and Marines that had died, leaving children behind, we know that those children were taught those same lies as fact. Who sat with those children as we did with ours, explaining that those were lies told for political gain?

Peter's comment inspired this post from Dean Esmay (I'm doing you a favor here, folks, so you can read 'em in sequence!). Peter's response evoked a deep sense of shame in Dean.

Peter: I'm so sorry. I was only 7 years old when we left Vietnam. I used to believe those horrible lies about you and your brothers. I'm glad that, whatever comes of this year's elections, people like you will have had their opportunity to come forward into the spotlight and tell people how Hollywood, academia, and the mainstream media portrayed you as psychotics, losers, villains, and helpless victims. I'm glad that you got to come forward and tell people how they lied about you, and how they got away with it for decades.

Claire left this response to Dean. From which we get the "Quotation of the Rotation" for you Army Guys who know what I mean.

That war was lost here at home by citizens willing, hell, eager, to believe the worst about their own country and countrymen. We lost faith in ourselves and all that we stood for. That is a lesson that I am grateful to Kerry, in all his misguided intentions, for bringing up to us -- US -- today.

We need to take note of this particular bit of our history and just exactly how we allowed freedom of speech to morph into freedom of bullying and make us lose that war. We need to learn what is was that made us open to losing our focus and direction. We need to know how we came to believe we had lost our Honor. For in believing that we had lost it, we gave it up. We need to examine that part of our history closely for the lessons it has to teach us today.

We lost that war in Viet Nam and the Vietnamese people paid. Dearly. We cannot afford to lose this war through the same mistake of refusing to believe in ourselves and each other. This time, not only will we pay dearly, but the people of many other nations will pay, in turn.

Amen, Sister!