An ungrateful nation

'For shame', say the moralizers about the Swift Vets' vitriolic attacks on John Kerry, insisting on attributing dishonorable or politically inspired motives to the Swift Vets' actions. Perhaps, to be charitable, they simply are ignorant about the psychology of the surviving 2 million or so Vietnam veterans. With apologies to Don Corleone, 'it's not business, it's personal.'

These Vietnam veterans still harbor deep resentment of being greeted by an ungrateful nation that spat on and abandoned them, literally and figuratively, upon their return from a war not of their making, for which they coped and improvised under virtually impossible conditions. They did their nation's bidding and were vilified for it.  John Kerry's widely broadcast and well preserved videotaped public betrayals, while he was still in the US Navy Reserves and drawing service pay, accusing them of war crimes, atrocities and worse on a daily basis, to them, marked John Kerry as a traitor.

Since the early 1970s, for the most part, Vietnam veterans have found a way to suppress their rage and find reconciliation, if not peace of mind.  Many have never been able to jettison the heavy baggage completely; only store it up in the attic where it has been out of sight and doing no harm. Most veterans, including the Swift Vets, have been willing to overlook Kerry's use of his combat veteran status to garner credentials for anti—war political gains.  Except for John O'Neill, who took his outrage onto the Dick Cavett Show in 1971, the others had already moved beyond Kerry's manipulation of his military experience as a US Navy officer to obtain his invitation to give testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

For more than two decades John Kerry has profited handsomely from a clever juxtaposition of post—Vietnam anti—war syndrome alongside the portrait of himself as a war hero. A self—described reluctant hero, foisted on a gullible public in the most liberal state in the country. And years later the junior senator from a politically irrelevant corner of the Northeast couldn't possibly do any lasting damage laying claim to an undistinguished US Senate career in which he had neither sponsored nor led any piece of legislation, meaningful or otherwise. Twice marrying money, he enjoyed the Good Life in private, on a scale beyond the dreams of most.

So, what disrupted this bucolic indifference?  What changed this acceptance with equanimity? How was John Kerry able to stir up so many angry passions that had been lying dormant for over thirty years provoking the Vietnam veterans into retrieving their baggage from the attic?

To secure the Democratic Party nomination, not only did he conveniently sidestep and misrepresent his anti—war activist platform, John Kerry attempted a stunning makeover.  By using his Vietnam service, embellished and buffed, he manufactured foreign policy credentials and an image of 'toughness' for the current War on Terror. He and the Democrats either had previously denied the necessity of key battles of this war or opposed measures to carry it out.  It is John Kerry's brazen, cynical and disingenuous personal reincarnation that has so enraged the Swift Vets and now resonates with hundreds of thousands of other Vietnam veterans and millions of Americans who just wanted to put Vietnam behind them.

The charges against John Kerry brought by the Swift Vets, for the most part, have been well documented and hit their mark. Judge the reactions from his handlers: ad hominem attacks, attempts to deny the First Amendment, then backpedaling and even quietly and inconspicuously entering some guilty pleas. It isn't only Kerry's political opportunism, reinforcing the general belief that he has no steadfast convictions, that has been revealed.  Either John Kerry is deeply confused or devoid of integrity. Either way, he willfully carried out activities unbecoming of a US Navy officer, behavior far from inspiring for a would—be Commander—In—Chief. 'Unfit for Command' may be harsh, but it is apt.

It is entirely possible that John Kerry may still be elected President. Bill Clinton, a serial liar and fabricator, was elected in 1992 despite widespread knowledge of his proclivities.  The electorate gave him a second pass in 1996.  And if John Kerry is sworn in as the next President, he can give thanks to a form of voter nullification dismissing irrefutable facts presented through selfless efforts by an obscure group of Swift Boat veterans who refused to be betrayed any longer.

On the other hand, if John Kerry is denied his bid, a once ungrateful nation would have reason to appreciate a handful of Vietnam veterans and to make peace with the most divisive social era in our nations' history.

Geoffrey P. Hunt is an executive of a multinational electrical and electronics manufacturing company

'For shame', say the moralizers about the Swift Vets' vitriolic attacks on John Kerry, insisting on attributing dishonorable or politically inspired motives to the Swift Vets' actions. Perhaps, to be charitable, they simply are ignorant about the psychology of the surviving 2 million or so Vietnam veterans. With apologies to Don Corleone, 'it's not business, it's personal.'

These Vietnam veterans still harbor deep resentment of being greeted by an ungrateful nation that spat on and abandoned them, literally and figuratively, upon their return from a war not of their making, for which they coped and improvised under virtually impossible conditions. They did their nation's bidding and were vilified for it.  John Kerry's widely broadcast and well preserved videotaped public betrayals, while he was still in the US Navy Reserves and drawing service pay, accusing them of war crimes, atrocities and worse on a daily basis, to them, marked John Kerry as a traitor.

Since the early 1970s, for the most part, Vietnam veterans have found a way to suppress their rage and find reconciliation, if not peace of mind.  Many have never been able to jettison the heavy baggage completely; only store it up in the attic where it has been out of sight and doing no harm. Most veterans, including the Swift Vets, have been willing to overlook Kerry's use of his combat veteran status to garner credentials for anti—war political gains.  Except for John O'Neill, who took his outrage onto the Dick Cavett Show in 1971, the others had already moved beyond Kerry's manipulation of his military experience as a US Navy officer to obtain his invitation to give testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

For more than two decades John Kerry has profited handsomely from a clever juxtaposition of post—Vietnam anti—war syndrome alongside the portrait of himself as a war hero. A self—described reluctant hero, foisted on a gullible public in the most liberal state in the country. And years later the junior senator from a politically irrelevant corner of the Northeast couldn't possibly do any lasting damage laying claim to an undistinguished US Senate career in which he had neither sponsored nor led any piece of legislation, meaningful or otherwise. Twice marrying money, he enjoyed the Good Life in private, on a scale beyond the dreams of most.

So, what disrupted this bucolic indifference?  What changed this acceptance with equanimity? How was John Kerry able to stir up so many angry passions that had been lying dormant for over thirty years provoking the Vietnam veterans into retrieving their baggage from the attic?

To secure the Democratic Party nomination, not only did he conveniently sidestep and misrepresent his anti—war activist platform, John Kerry attempted a stunning makeover.  By using his Vietnam service, embellished and buffed, he manufactured foreign policy credentials and an image of 'toughness' for the current War on Terror. He and the Democrats either had previously denied the necessity of key battles of this war or opposed measures to carry it out.  It is John Kerry's brazen, cynical and disingenuous personal reincarnation that has so enraged the Swift Vets and now resonates with hundreds of thousands of other Vietnam veterans and millions of Americans who just wanted to put Vietnam behind them.

The charges against John Kerry brought by the Swift Vets, for the most part, have been well documented and hit their mark. Judge the reactions from his handlers: ad hominem attacks, attempts to deny the First Amendment, then backpedaling and even quietly and inconspicuously entering some guilty pleas. It isn't only Kerry's political opportunism, reinforcing the general belief that he has no steadfast convictions, that has been revealed.  Either John Kerry is deeply confused or devoid of integrity. Either way, he willfully carried out activities unbecoming of a US Navy officer, behavior far from inspiring for a would—be Commander—In—Chief. 'Unfit for Command' may be harsh, but it is apt.

It is entirely possible that John Kerry may still be elected President. Bill Clinton, a serial liar and fabricator, was elected in 1992 despite widespread knowledge of his proclivities.  The electorate gave him a second pass in 1996.  And if John Kerry is sworn in as the next President, he can give thanks to a form of voter nullification dismissing irrefutable facts presented through selfless efforts by an obscure group of Swift Boat veterans who refused to be betrayed any longer.

On the other hand, if John Kerry is denied his bid, a once ungrateful nation would have reason to appreciate a handful of Vietnam veterans and to make peace with the most divisive social era in our nations' history.

Geoffrey P. Hunt is an executive of a multinational electrical and electronics manufacturing company