The war in Vietnam ended about forty years ago, but the pain of a war in which few understood the reasons for fighting let alone who were our allies or enemies, lingers on. Senatorial candidate Richard Blumenthal is under fire because he gave the impression in his description of service during teh Vietnam war that he actually was under fire. Perhaps, if one defines spending time in Washington D.C. dealing with political matters, one could argue they were under enemy fire. The latest example of mouths that run over with patriotic slop comes from Representative Gary Miller of California who has described himself as serving during the Vietnam War. In truth, he did enter the Army, but was honorably discharged after several weeks of service because he had ulcers and a wife and child. However, when asked to recollect his army service, the Republican Congressman wrote: “the leadership skills which I experienced in the U.S. Army allow me to take the lead on issues which promote a stronger defense.” As I recall my sixteen weeks of basic training, the only “leadership skills” I learned was how to dodge KP.
The war in Vietnam is long time gone. The debates about whether it was moral or immoral to serve in a war that was conducted in all too frequent ventures into immorality, exist in the realm of minds or in graves of the silent. The man who went to Canada to escape the draft has a right to yell “patriot” just as does the poor character who lacked connections to get him a soft tour of duty.
I await the Vietnam exploits of Dick Cheney, who got several draft deferments and when asked why he did not serve, argued he had better and more important things to do. I guess he could write a book about how to dodge the draft and live to tell about it.