As an Australian I have often felt a deep sense of shame over the way our returning Vietnam veterans were treated. They were met with abuse and disgusting slogans by virtual rioters, while the government who sent them there was generally too craven to associate itself with them.
Added to this was the image of opposition shadow ministers marching under North Vietnamese flags along with the ‘protesters’. Their treatment was disgraceful and in my mind contributed to the deep sense of alienation many of them still feel today. I hope the US veterans fared better although I doubt it.
My support for John McCain is based on the belief that he is the best candidate, but his election would also provide a silver lining. A President who is a Vietnam veteran would be some recognition of these people. I hope you get one of your own for President fellers.
On Libertarian Republican today was one of the best editorials I have seen in a long time, “Mccains struggle as POW should inspire as all to Fight for Liberty,” by Adam J. Bernay, which I am reprinting here.
I finally got around to watching the Republican National Convention today; I was busy last week and so recorded the nightly speeches on DVR. While I dearly loved Sarah Palin's speech, I was deeply moved by parts of Fred Thompson's and John McCain's. Specifically, those describing a young Commander McCain's capture, imprisonment, and torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese.
I don't think most of the public - especially my generation and the generation following mine - had a real and true idea of what happened to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines captured in Vietnam. We know they were tortured and held for years, but our country and people are so far removed from suffering, we don't have a full comprehension of what it means. We have become inured to violence in our popular culture, to the extent that we see a man killed one day and alive the next (in another role) and our subconscious doesn't get what real violence and suffering is. I'm not inveighing today against violence and coarseness in the media, but that is a topic worth discussing.
To hear what McCain - and others - really went through is discomforting. You could see it in the faces of the Republican conventioneers when his torture was described. The anguish is palpable. And if you know what you are looking at, the stiffness of McCain's movements flesh out the story. If elected, McCain will certainly be our most physically disabled president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But McCain's limitations are the scars gained from service to his country. To us as a people.
If McCain's candidacy can help us remember what it means to serve a cause greater than ourselves, to put the thing most people love most - themselves - on the line for an ideal, then it will have accomplished something great for us as a people and our souls. Maybe it can snap my generation out of our shared stupor; we have no idea what true achievement and striving is.
The truly great man in this race is John McCain. As Governor Palin put it, only one man in this election has actually fought for us. Maybe his candidacy will teach us what that really means.
Note - Adam Bernay is a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, part-time local radio broadcaster/producer and longtime libertarian Republican from Fresno, California.