As a Canadian I view baseball as my second favorite spectator sports after American politics. I enjoy the sport of it all. However, I am rarely moved or inspired by one of the players.Today, Bob Kerry moved and inspired me. Mr. Kerry told the truth. Not simply the factual truth. His personal truth. Vietnam is a painful and contorversial subject and Mr. Kerry will surely feel a backlash. I salute his courage.In matters of the human heart and soul as in my own life, 'simple truth' and 'convinient lie' are close neighbors.Paul
I saw the story this morning as well (via web, not 60minII). And I agree with you that it took a lot of courage to speak about his recollections of what occurred there. Kerrey has always presented himself, and been viewed by others, as a straight-shooter, and a man of integrity in a field where that may not be the norm.I was disappointed also, however, by Mr. Kerrey's admission that he has been struggling with this since 1969. ``This is killing me. I'm tired of people describing me as a hero and holding this inside,' he said.http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010426/ts/politics_kerrey_dc.htmlI regret that it was only following the story in the mainstream press that Mr. Kerrey decided to come forward with his story. Undoubtedly, it is a difficult issue under any circumstances, and the personal costs of publicly discussing the incident would have been crushingly punitive at any point since his return from the war. Woe be to any of us finding ourselves in similar circumstances. I do agree with Paul that he will probably suffer backlash, perhaps even elimination from the presidential race of '04, which would be regrettable. I hope that discussing it now will help to ease his emotional struggle. I am even more impressed with Vietnam's official response, which seeks not to incriminate, but urges healing and moving forward.``In the statements about what happened in the past in Vietnam, Mr. Kerrey had shown he was remorseful for his behavior,' Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said in a statement.``We think the best way for Mr. Kerrey as well as other Americans who used to fight in Vietnam to find peace of mind, is to have concrete and realistic actions to contribute to healing the wounds left by the war in Vietnam.'http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010426/pl/vietnam_kerrey_massacre_dc_2.htmlThanks for a Canadian view, Paul.ChimChim
<< Mr. Kerry told the truth. Not simply the factual truth. His personal truth. Vietnam is a painful and contorversial subject and Mr. Kerry will surely feel a backlash. I salute his courage. >>Nothing like a story coming out in the New York Times this weekend to make him see the light after all these years.
But did he really tell the truth? Others have different versions, as pointed out in the Yahoo story. We will probably not ever know the real truth, but there is no particular reason to believe the Kerry is telling the whole truth."But a surviving Vietnamese witness and a former squad member both contradicted that statement, with the ex-SEAL telling CBS 'we herded them all together in a group' and 'lined them up and opened fire' from very close range."http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010426/ts/politics_kerrey_dc.html
Nothing like a story coming out in the New York Times this weekend to make him see the light after all these years.Public figures worldwide have stories about their past revealed in the press frequently. Bob Kerry is dealing with this story openly and publicly.His reaction is to be celebrated and encouraged. If he is pillaried for 'keeping a secret' then every politician in the world will be encouraged to hide their secrets. Paul
I encourage everybody seeking the 'factual truth' in this matter to watch Kurosawa's masterpiece Rashomon. It is one of the most important films ever made.Gertrude Stein has some wisdown in this area as well.When I think back on my childhood home,I realize that there is no their their.Journalists are rushing to tell 'the whole story' and the news will be filled with various accounts of events. In the end, what will be learnt is 'there is no their their'.In all wars good men do horrible things. This condems war not the men.Paul
I wonder if he will travel to Vietnam and apologize in person to the relatives of the people he killed, I think it would be very healing...
In all wars good men do horrible things. This condems war not the men.How true! To the Kerry bashers that were never there, you have no idea what it was like there and therefore have no reason to judge him. Only his peers can.
From my own personal experience. We slaughtered the non-combatants by the hundreds whether intentionally or unintentionally. When you place a automatic rifle and 300 hundred rounds in the hands of a million eighteen year olds you are going to find the the worst and the best of human nature. We established free fire zones. Translation. Don't leave home at night. The bomb tonnage was beyond belief and that doesn't include napalm and straffing. Vietnam was a mean,dirty and insane war and Bob Kerry and the rest of us have packed that suitcase around all these years. Regards, Scott McAleer RVN, 1/16inf. 1965-66
Vietnam was a mean,dirty and insane war and Bob Kerry and the rest of us have packed that suitcase around all these years.And it is past time to put it to bed!AD, thanks.
<< From my own personal experience. We slaughtered the non-combatants by the hundreds whether intentionally or unintentionally. When you place a automatic rifle and 300 hundred rounds in the hands of a million eighteen year olds you are going to find the the worst and the best of human nature.We established free fire zones. Translation. Don't leave home at night. The bomb tonnage was beyond belief and that doesn't include napalm and straffing.Vietnam was a mean,dirty and insane war and Bob Kerry and the rest of us have packed that suitcase around all these years. >>Amen...war is sanctioned madness:http://220.127.116.11/12_2_00/uncle_sam_blues.mp3"I'm gonna' kill somebody,won't have to break no kinda' laws."rex
As a Vietnam vet I can only say that my heart goes out to Bob Kerrey and the others of his team. I will also testify, it was not an abberation. RS
Lyndon Jackass Johnson, Robert McNamara, "McGeorge" Bundy... the Kommander in Khief, SecDef, NSA... THESE ARE THE FREAKING MORONS' NAMES THAT SHOULD BE SHOUTED FROM THE ROOFTOPS...Not a single vet, not one, should have a single bleeping thing to apologize over... 55,000 wasted in the most moronic non-campaign, non-win, give'em a good spanking, take the dirt, take the hill, hold it, fall back when overrun, take it again, don't go where they live, don't you DARE make a move we haven't approved in advance... Except in arcane academic tomes and debate, it is quite rare to see the appropriate blame of this treasonous, incredible folly and waste of America's youth and resources on this pointless, goal-less, struggle... jackass Johnson and his inept advisors...I genuinely wish for the greatest scorn, contempt, and ridicule upon all these individuals' identity, and the wealth of their progenies' families, who even now lounge in the wealth and fame that their names bequeath... the unannointed royalty of the USA...Good Lord Almighty... words cannot convey...BBVietnam, USN, 1965 - 1968If you want to express your OWN words of admiration in the visitors log, visit the LBJ library:[ONE day, I'll get there myself and show my OWN due respects... you bet I will. In spades.]http://www.lbjlib.utexas.edu/Lyndon Baines JohnsonLibrary and Museum2313 Red River St.Austin, TX 78705More:http://www.cnn.com/US/9610/15/lbj.doubts/
this was very typical of that war...not an isolated incident at all.....thousands of civilians where killed every week...the bombings alone.and grenades... killed a tonne..there is no glory in war...only murder and filth...the public is naive..they have no idea...hell..this was light stuff.....not being callous or flippant...but ordinary war-crap.....what do people think war is anyways?..it is organized murder...and folks get to like it..that's the real horror...t-rat
I wanted to kill them all...(truly)...These filthy, nasty people...this scum of the earth who were a part of a society in chaos.For me to have been forced away from my own family for nearly eight months just so I could help these low-lifes because they were incapabable of helping their own damn selves......this was for me almost unbearable.I remember going out on patrol on several occasions and having them watch you (staring)...Always begging from you...always wanting...always expecting...Their words still haunt me (even today)..."You!!! Give me...Please!!!""ALLEZ!!!!Was always my response in kind...as I would point my weapon at them or some other instrument of authority...to let them know that I was serious...That was my nightmare for at least four months until...until......until one day I was approached by two small children (a three year old boy and a girl who looked at least five or six). I remembered thinking to myself..."Oh boy...I bet these little bastards are going to beg for something"...They kept walking towards me, getting closer and closer as I was becoming even more angrier because I knew what they were up to. Finally, when they got close enough to me, the little girl (who was holding the young boy's hand) held her other hand out to me and smiled...And that's when I snapped... "ALLEZ!!!! MOVE YOUR ASSES OUTTA' HERE RIGHT NOW!"I knew that they had no idea about what the hell I was saying...but the hurt expressions on their faces signified to me that they got my point.Most of you would have been real proud of me...The big bad Green Beret yelling at a bunch of children (I was a real bad ass that day).So they immediately walked away and I simply turned my head away from them...ignoring them altogether. Until......until I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the little girl (still holding the little boy's hand) had pointed to the ground at something. The little boy reached down and picked it up...that was when I saw that he had picked up an old army cracker from one of those field rations. He handed it to her, she inspected it...wiped it on her dress and gave it back to him.He took a bite...and then he held it out to her while she took hers.I watched ever so coldly...(failing to realize that I had stopped breathing as I witnessed this simple display of human kindness towards one another)...they finished the cracker and began to walk off (with the little boy insistent on her holding his hand...which she did obligingly)...I watched their hands as they touched (holding) each others...grasping with the tenderness that one feels...she was trying to protect him in this world of chaos...loving him...(children protecting children)...<I'm still not breathing>And that's when it hit me...their skin color changed...they became my children...my two boys...(as I remembered my oldest son holding his younger brother's hand as they were going on an "adventure"). I tried to block it out of my mind but their was no denying the fact that I was experiencing something that had taken the US Army a few short years to remove...It was compassion...Frantically, I searched in my vehicle to give them something (anything)...looking...looking (God please help me)...but there was nothing...The only thing that I could find was a piece of chicklet's gum still in it's plastic wrapping.HEY!!! Come over here!!!I yelled hoping that it wasn't too late...they began to run away and never came back...(I believe that both of them had heard me but were only too scared to come back after the way that I had treated them)...That was pretty much it...Nobody died...nothing morbid or such...It was just that after four months from that incident I came home from that hellhole and was telling my wife about the story of the two kids...it was kinda off the cuff...like..."Hey honey, you wouldn't believe one of the things that had happened to me..."And that's when I lost it (I mean literally)...as I described it to her about the events that unfolded. I not only showed her a side of me that she had never seen...but one that I had never knew that I had had...I cried with such pain and heartfelt compassion when I tried to explain it to her, tears flooding my face as I acted surprise because I couldn't explain what was happening to me...that my point to her was inexplicable...incomprehensible...I knew that she could never understand the specific point that I was trying to make...but what she did understand from me was that deep inside...She knew that I was hurting worse than any man could possibly imagine. Here's what I tried to tell her (and yet could never find the words):It's true ...war is hell (just like life)...but it goes beyond that...it goes beyond any realm of sensibility or common decency...the American Goverment will never tell it's public that it's a war (not since Vietnam)..."Tell them that it's a... Peacekeeping Operation...let the good people of the USofA think that we are actually doing some good, helping the unfortunate, and blah, blah, blah...But never tell them that it is a waste of our time or effort...nor that the result will be that we as the United States will unleash our broadsword (the military might) as we see fit so that other countries will fall in line with our ideology. Never mention to our people that with this might comes an army of soldiers whom we have ripped out their hearts (their emotions) so that they cannot feel compassion and will only do what they're told to do. Whether they like it or not...What I was just describing to all of you had nothing to with Vietnam...but you could have just as easily confused it with "Nam" or perhaps Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Haiti, or sadly Somalia (where I lost some good friends)... <Breathing again>This is only a fraction of the pain that I endure (if you are to believe that I am who I claim to be)...what Kerry did took balls, but my respect for him would have been even greater if he had only come clean a lot sooner.My only hope for him is that he had found a way to seek forgiveness from God and from his fellow man...One last thing, before any of you start throwing stones at me (for anything that I wrote here), I got one question to ask:How many of you here want to walk a mile in my shoes? Draegerman(Excuse the ranting)
Terry (Draegerman),Once again, you confound me, and amaze me. Your post on this board was one of the most poignant and moving things I have ever read. I am at a loss for words, literally. Most people do NOT understand what a sacrifice it is to leave friends and family to go and fight for a country and people (and possibly ideals) that you have NO personal interest in. They also have NO idea the kind of resentment it can lead to in ourselves, and the type of cynicism it can foster. You not only understand, but are able to express yourself in such a way that we get it, too. Don't apologise, and keep ranting, I think we could use a little more of it, my man. :-)Once again, your post has caused me to look back on my life, reflect on my mistakes, and revisit my feelings and priorities. Thanks for being human, and thanks for showing me that, quite possibly, I am, too. How many of you here want to walk a mile in my shoes?Keep the shoes, my friend. I have no doubt they would never fit me.Burley
<< It's true ...war is hell (just like life)...but it goes beyond that...it goes beyond any realm of sensibility or common decency...the American Goverment will never tell it's public that it's a war (not since Vietnam)..."Tell them that it's a... Peacekeeping Operation...let the good people of the USofA think that we are actually doing some good, helping the unfortunate, and blah, blah, blah...But never tell them that it is a waste of our time or effort...nor that the result will be that we as the United States will unleash our broadsword (the military might) as we see fit so that other countries will fall in line with our ideology. Never mention to our people that with this might comes an army of soldiers whom we have ripped out their hearts (their emotions) so that they cannot feel compassion and will only do what they're told to do. Whether they like it or not... >>I'm surprised to read comments like these from a career military guy. Are you saying that our soldiers are stripped of their individuality and compassion by design, and do you feel that our Armed Forces would be better off if they weren't?It's interesting that Bob Kerry himself alluded to this same topic, indirectly, in comments made to Tom Brokaw last week:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Brokaw: “No one wants it to happen it doesn't fall within the rules of war as they are written but everyone knows that it happed a lot in Vietnman probably, happened in every war that America has been involved with.” Kerrey: “Yeah it has. I mean it's very important for citizens to understand that. I had a argument once — not an argument — a friend of mine was in the army, a career Army officer, six or seven tours in Vietnam, Medal of Honor recipient, which is how I knew him and after I had protested against the draft in 1981, saying that we shouldn't draft 18-year-olds we oughta raise the age to 30, if we wanna find out how good our cause was. He explained to me — quite correctly — that it wounld't work because it's 18 to 25-year-olds that we need because they don't ask many questions. They will do whatever you tell them to do if you have control over their food and their sleep and what that means is that for us adults, us older people, as we talk about sending our army, our Airforce, our Navy our Marine Corps off to do something, we'd better be darned well certain that we're willing to morally sanction all kinds of horrible things because even killing in the so-called right way is still killing and it can leave you with a horrible memory, especially if the moral approval has been removed, which it was in Vietnam.”http://www.msnbc.com/news/564462.asp#BODYI think that before anyone toasts Bob Kerry as having "balls" for what he did [in *coming out*], they take the time to read the transcript of his interview. I did think Brokaw had balls to repeatedly ask the difficult questions, even as Kerry was repeatedly side-stepping them.Just one question, Draegerman...<< I wanted to kill them all...(truly)...These filthy, nasty people...this scum of the earth who were a part of a society in chaos.For me to have been forced away from my own family for nearly eight months just so I could help these low-lifes because they were incapabable of helping their own damn selves......this was for me almost unbearable. >>What made you pursue a career in the military after your dis-illusioning experience with the Army in Vietnam?rex
Hi Rex,Notice that it's 5:00 AM and that I'm actually out the door as I respond to this...I'm surprised to read comments like these from a career military guy.First off, I resent the fact that you infer that I'm a career military guy. I've only got eighteen years in the service and as soon as I can perfect my singing and dancing skills...then I'm outta here!;)Are you saying that our soldiers are stripped of their individuality and compassion by design, and do you feel that our Armed Forces would be better off if they weren't?Yes and no...and sorry if I don't expound on this. I am, afterall, short on time here. You might start (in your pursuit to better understand our military) by reading a book by LTC Grossman called "On Killing"...he actually goes into great detail about what it takes to transform a snot-nosed eighteen year old kid into a robotic killing machine whose reactions are based on muscle memory rather than thought and reason.What made you pursue a career in the military after your dis-illusioning experience with the Army in Vietnam?There you go with that career word again, huh? <g>...To be honest I was actually talking about Haiti (a subject that I've only scratched the surface on and one that has caused me tremendous grief)...I would really love to have more time to explain all of this to you but I'm really strapped for time...if you're still interested in my views regarding the military, then I'll be more than happy to continue this through private e-mail once I get back in a couple of weeks.Until then...peace to all,Terry
Terry,You are a good man. I know its hard to look back at your experience, and know that fact, but its true - you are a good man.I imagine you'd like a "do-over". We all would. Everyone can look back at their lives, and find that experience. Yours was more stark, and perhaps in greater focus because you carried a gun, and the children were part of this world's poorest of the poor. But everytime one of us overlooks the less fortunate, everytime we turn our back on someone in need, we do what you have done. And everybody has done it at one time or another.I realize that you are not looking for absolution from me. You need absolution from yourself. If you have not already done so, give it to yourself. Make it a gift to yourself. Even if you don't feel worthy of it, give yourself that absolution.Its right for you to rail against the machinery that put you in that situation. You have given me a new perspective. Haiti is a country my wife and I often talk about. She has done missionary work there. The organizations she belongs to often tout what the US has done, and not done, all of which points to why the US is responsible for what has happened there. I fume when this is conveyed to me. We sent good men and women like you down there, trying to give them some hope. These organizations did not appreciate it. They still don't. They conveniently forget about all the good things you did down there, and they also conveniently overlook the responsibility the average Haitian has for the situation. They have no phones and electricity. This is because they can't afford it. And because theives have torn down and stolen all the copper in the transmission lines. They sell gasoline out of their houses, to make money, and there are terrible accidents as a result. Most of the people live in squalor. I don't have to tell you about it. I have often pointed to this in my debates about the topic. I have tried to lay responsibility evenly. But your story reminds me that these are people, hungry people, who need food. While I am firmly a "teach a man to fish" kind of person, your story has given me pause. The Haitian situation won't get better until certain cultural attributes down there change. I will continue to fight for that. But I appreciate you giving me a perspective on the "real world" situation, and the story of you and those two children.CoolMoose
<< There you go with that career word again, huh? <g>...To be honest I was actually talking about Haiti (a subject that I've only scratched the surface on and one that has caused me tremendous grief)... >>Well, then I'm admittedly baffled...I can't figure out where you're coming from, exactly.Regarding Bob Kerrey and his role in what has been described as everything from a mistake to an atrocity - I found his responses to Brokaw's questions to be ambiguous and circuitous. Regardless of whose account one chooses to believe, the fact remains that Bob Kerrey accepted a Bronze Star for his role in the incident and never divulged the truth of the matter. He states now that the report his outfit filed about the incident was not the report the military cited when they awarded that medal; in effect, Kerrey is saying that the military insisted in awarding him a medal he knew he didn't deserve, but had no choice but to accept. Brokaw: “There you were on a dangerous mission, dark night, no moon in the middle of the jungle and you came across people you thought were an outpost of some kind.” Kerrey: “That's correct.” Brokaw: “And before you took fire, you fired on them.” Kerrey: “Yes.” Brokaw: “And you later discovered about those people what?” Kerrey: “Well, I'm not sure — it's been reported to me now through one of the men that were there that night that they were women and children as well. That it was — two older guys and — but so I don't know. I don't know what the details are. We just got it from — it's different from what I thought that night. That night I — they came back and said there are outposts out here and we either kill them or we can't continue on the operation. And I thought the operation was officially important and that was an appropriate action to take.” Brokaw: “And one of the squad members has now said that they were killed at point blank range by your men.” Kerrey: “That's correct.” Brokaw: “Is that true?” Kerrey: “No, that is not true. I mean we were fired upon and we returned fire...I'm hearing two different accounts...and as far as it being "reported to me now through one of the men that were there that night that they were women and children as well", that sounds like Nixon before the tapes confirmed that he knew exactly what went on during the Watergate cover-up, and in fact orchestrated the whole thing himself.I don't say that Kerrey is Nixon - geez, for all I know Nixon's a hero to the denizens of these boards - but I find it hard to believe that a guy can be tormented for a lifetime by an event, the actual details of which he cannot recall. And, despite Kerrey's assertion that he has never "bragged" about his medals, they were used by his campaign staff, with his full knowledge, to promote his various campaigns for office. There are many "war heros" in public office, and Bob Kerrey certainly isn't the first to parlay his wartime exploits into a successful bid for public office.As I wrote in another post, I think war is practiced, sanctioned insanity with lethal consequences. I find it tragic that so many lives are taken on both sides, and so many other lives are wrecked by the experience...and that none of those lives ever belong to the men who conceive and direct the horror. Never has this been more evident than during and after our involvement in the Vietnam War.There are many Bob Kerreys out there.rex
There are many Bob Kerreys out there.And thats why guys like you and I can sleep soundly at night. We do not need to face the very real dangers of a combat zone, somebody else is doing it for us. Only Bob Kerrey and his colleagues will ever know what happened that night, and as you point out the sheer terror of the situation may cloud his recollection.I only know given the same circumstances I might shoot first and ask questions later and I would not consider that cowardice.Bob Kerrey is descended from a fine national character, one that is prepared to take on the hard and dirty tasks to keep this world safe even when their nation is not implicitly threatened. They are the good guys who step between the bully and a third party who they barely know. And for the most part they are young - 18 to 22 years old.God bless America and men like Bob KerreyFrom a grateful Canadian, who understands which country keeps this world a safe place.Alkan
<< Bob Kerrey is descended from a fine national character, one that is prepared to take on the hard and dirty tasks to keep this world safe even when their nation is not implicitly threatened. They are the good guys who step between the bully and a third party who they barely know. And for the most part they are young - 18 to 22 years old. >>In Bob Kerrey's words:..."I had protested against the draft in 1981, saying that we shouldn't draft 18-year-olds we oughta raise the age to 30, if we wanna find out how good our cause was. He explained to me — quite correctly — that it wounld't work because it's 18 to 25-year-olds that we need because they don't ask many questions. They will do whatever you tell them to do if you have control over their food and their sleep..."In other words, they'll take on all the dirty tasks you credit them with and ward off those bullies if our government properly manipulates and coerces them.Suppose that, prior to Vietnam, the people of this country had been given the opportunity to vote on whether or not our government should send their children to war in S.E. Asia, where many thousands of them would be killed...which is what actually happens in war. That bullets would slam into the brains of our 18 year olds, that arms and legs would be blown off, all in the name of a freedom that our leaders believed would be preserved by this war halfway around the world, against an enemy that had not attacked the United States...how do you think Americans would have voted? Of course, we would never have gotten that opportunity, because life and death decisions can't be left to those who might be killed...they must be made by men who have no intention of going to battle...men whose sons will also be protected from the inevitable carnage.As for that "Domino Theory"...it was wrong. Those 55,000 Americans died for nothing. 25 years later, our children know nothing of Vietnam, and care even less. But hey, that "Platoon" was a pretty good movie, wasn't it?I know you remember the "My Lai Massacre"...Lt. William Calley was convicted of murder in an event eerily similar to what has been alleged to have occured in Kerrey's case. Does anyone think that Bob Kerrey has a snowball's chance in hell of being tried for murder?For those here who might be unfamiliar with the My Lai Massacre, here is a link...there are many:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/vietnam/trenches/mylai.htmlrex
As long as we're OT, and this one's dying down anyway.....I came across this quote from Hemingway the other day:"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain.....I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.....Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates."He wrote that about WW I (in Farewell to Arms), but it's turned out to be true of every war since, and, I expect, of all the ones to come.
Draegerman, Thank you again. One of those little girls in Vietnam grew up to be my wife. She's told me how strange is was as a little girl to see blond haired, blue eyed, sun burned soldiers. She also is appreciative that the Americans arrived. Terry, if the brave bastards like you hadn't been there and made sacrifices, I wouldn't have my family. I appreciate you and them. Let there be no mistake. Take CareZep83
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