A band of Vietnam-veteran Special Forces have signed the following letter.
The undersigned Special Forces Vietnam Veterans support our Swift Boat brothers-in-arms and believe that John Kerry is unfit to be our Commander-in-Chief or to lead our nation as President. The Kerry presidential campaign has raised the significance of this deeply-felt and long-standing issue. While many, if not a majority, of the signatories of this request are Republicans and Bush supporters, many are not. Those who are Democrats have been effectively disenfranchised by Kerry's candidacy.I gather from the NY Times' review of "Stolen Honor" that it is finally starting to sink in with the left that those of us who oppose Kerry on these grounds really mean it -- that it's not just an attempt to slur a political opponent, but genuine rage at a man who violated the code expected of military men, and then had the audacity to slander the honor of those who kept it.
For most of us the question of his fitness to serve as Commander-in-Chief, or in any other office of honor and high public responsibility, was settled permanently in the negative thirty-three years ago. He slandered and dishonored all Vietnam Veterans in false and exaggerated testimony before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. By throwing away the symbols of his honors, he insulted all veterans of all wars by debasing the milestones of their valor.
He has unrelentingly opposed issues vital to veterans. He has supported measures that have led to genocide of our former allies, the Montagnards, and the enslavement of the people of Vietnam. He has blocked efforts to enact Human Rights legislation to help alleviate their condition. He has taken action which led to the abandonment of American POWs in Vietnam that most of us believe were left behind. His stated plan to double special operations forces rapidly in response to today's threats demonstrates his lack of understanding of what makes a Special Forces soldier and his failure to understand that the available conventional armed forces manpower pool is insufficient to provide the necessary qualified personnel without seriously degrading standards.
By Lieutenant Kerry's own request, he returned to the United States after completing only one-third of his tour. He did this by seeking and receiving three Purple Hearts for wounds of questionable cause and severity. He was the commander of a military unit, in this case a Naval combatant craft, and he abandoned his crew to the fight to return to a life of ease. By the standards expected of a Naval line officer of the United States, even with the most charitable interpretation, this is contemptible.
There are serious questions concerning the circumstances of Lieutenant Kerry’s first Purple Heart, and perhaps about his other decorations, as well. These questions prompt us to call him to sign Standard Form 180 to authorize the full release of all records pertaining to his service. If his awards failed to measure up to the standards required, he should formally request that these awards be rescinded and removed from his record.
No apology, especially a Jane Fonda-type, insincere or tepid apology is acceptable. No legislative abridgement of our freedom of speech or because one candidate or the other does not wish to discuss the matter will halt the discussion of these issues. We have the American right to discuss these issues. We fought for that right.
We call upon the American people to reject his effort to become Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces and we urge other Veteran groups to join our solidarity with the Swift Boat critics of Senator John Kerry.
I gather from Ms. Stanley's review that she is moved by the pain the POWs for Truth suffered, but unmoved by questions of honor. They don't interest her. Certainly she expresses sympathy for these men who were tortured in their nation's cause, and who had Kerry's words thrown in their faces by their captors. It will not, however, translate into a vote against Kerry, now or ever. Questions of honor don't matter as much as other things.
Probably there are quite a few people like that, and if all of them come to the same conclusion, "Stolen Honor" will have still be a great victory. If these people only recognize that the attacks on Kerry by veterans and soldiers are the result of an aggreived and deeply felt code of honor, rather than political smear, it will be both clarifying and soothing to the national discourse. Though they may choose to support him for political reasons, we might have their respect; and it is easier to live with those who respect and understand you, even if they do not agree, even if they do not care about what moves your heart.
So much for the urban liberal class, for whom honor is a quaint, even an amusing relic from an earlier age. There are others across this country for whom it is a living thing. Not all of them have heard what these Green Berets have to say, what the POWs said before them, and the Swiftees before them. There are ranks on ranks of honorable men ill-disposed to see a man of Kerry's character given command of anything or anyone. He is unfit, honorless.
Perhaps this time they will hear. Perhaps this time, they will listen.
I got a letter from my friend and former SEAL, Tiny Robinson, about whom you read earlier. He became a SEAL in 1971. At the end of his letter, he signed off: "Thank you for caring."
I share his pain. It hurts to know how few people do.