I intended to post this on Memorial Day, but I’m a bit late, having just gotten back from my little stay in the hospital. But I think it’s still worth a moment of your time.
John Kerry was sworn in as Secretary of State on February 1st, and I feel this is a kind of redemption for the "Swiftboating" allegations that were made against him when he ran for President in 2004.
The attacks against Kerry were heavy-handed, but what really bothered me about them was that, in questioning the medals he won, his critics called into question the medals and honors that EVERY soldier has won in war–something that we must not let happen.
In 2004, Whitley wrote: "The mastermind behind the Swiftboat commercials presently causing such controversy is Houston lawyer John Ellis O’Neill. John and I were close friends at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio, between 1960 and 1963. We were debaters and often debated as partners, sometimes as opponents."
"In our senior year, John got appointed to the Naval Academy. He left for the Academy, as I recall, with plans to follow his father into a naval career. He acquitted himself well, and was soon posted to Vietnam. He was in Swiftboats for a time, and it must have been dangerous, difficult fighting. As it happened, he served in the same Swiftboat that John Kerry had previously commanded."
"It is important to note that John commanded the same boat, not, as far as is known, the same crew."
"John was changed by Vietnam. When he came back, the joy was gone out of him. Mutual friends reported that the bubbling, delightful human being we had known was gone, replaced by somebody sadder and quieter, and very different."
No matter what these warriors’ motivations were when they joined up (or, in the case of Vietnam, were drafted), they fought valiantly, and we must not let that be forgotten. And especially, it must be remembered that decorations are earned for real valor, and awarded only after careful consideration of what the recipient did for his (or her) country.