Before I go into this, a confession is in order. I was one of those who didn't go (legally), but opposed the war in Vietnam.
In retrospect, I was wrong on both counts. Cambodia alone proves that. This is a season for reflection and repentance, and a time for that thought.
The picture shows Sgt. Gell, who was killed in Vietnam, the last time he was with his family. His daughter writes:
I don't blame Kerry for my father's death, and I don't much care if he shamelessly chased after medals. But I do care that when he returned from Vietnam he gave aid and comfort to the enemy while our soldiers were still dying. I care that he smeared my father and a generation of our armed forces with false charges of war crimes while posing himself as a hero. I care that Kerry's false charges encouraged our enemy who was pressuring our POWs in inhumane ways to confess to imaginary war crimes. I care that he went to Paris to meet with the Viet Cong in 1970 while still an officer in the Navy Reserve, returning to publicly advocate for their position and against America's position.
This isn't about politics. It's about honor and betrayal and protecting our country. And for me it is deeply personal, as it is for countless vets. Thirty-nine years later, my mother still cries on Nov 14. Thirty-nine years later, we miss my father every day. Thirty-nine years later, Kerry poses as a hero. As children of Vietnam veterans, many of us feel an unwelcome emotional strain as the arguments about what really happened in Vietnam are tugged back and forth, often by people who were not there. We deeply resent the suggestion that our fathers were war criminals as that theme inevitably seeps into the argument.
We are educated and grown. We have children of our own, some in the service. We know in our heart and soul the scars of war that will never go away. But we are not weak, and we will not be silent. I will stand with the Vietnam veterans who speak out, and the voice of my father will be heard through me.
As long as I have breath and Kerry seeks the office of president, I will speak out against him. Others like me are too many to count.
This is gut-wrenching, and too strong to discount entirely. You can't make policy just with emotion, but you can't discount it, either. In focusing his campaign on his four months in Vietnam, Kerry stepped on a land mine.
And the pundits who dismiss the Swift Boat Veterans as just a Karl Rove smear must consider the feelings this piece expresses so well