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Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold
By Barbara Stock
September 1, 2004
Over 30 years ago they put away their medals and their uniforms. They buried their anger and bitterness and moved on with their lives--and they waited.
Revisionists are trying to change history, claiming the returning Viet Nam veterans didn't suffer all that much when they returned home. All that talk of being labeled animals has been exaggerated over the years. But the veterans know better. They were there.
On the radio last week, one man related that he had unpacked the uniform that he wore home from Viet Nam all those years ago. It had not seen the light of day for over 30 years. He showed it to his children and grandchildren and, for the first time, spoke of the day that he returned home from war and was spat on, cursed at, and literally had to run a gauntlet of protesters who threw human waste and rotten fruit on him and his fellow vets. With the words "baby killers" ringing in his ears he was warned by laughing policemen not to retaliate or he would be arrested. So he ran. The able-bodied helped the wounded as they do on any battlefield because those on crutches or in wheelchairs were not spared the profanity and bags full of feces that were thrown at them by the raging anti-war protesters.
This now middle-aged vet went on to tell his family that he had hid in the bathroom at the airport for over two hours, bewildered and afraid. He wondered if he had landed in some foreign land where Americans were hated. Finally, he cleaned up the uniform he was still proud to wear as best he could and made his way to his plane, where he suffered more insults from the passengers. When he got home, he packed up his medals and his dirty uniform, just as it was, and he knew that one day, he would take it out again and he would have his say. That day has come.
One POW stated that he had never put a face to the name until he heard the words "Genghis Khan" pronounced only as John Kerry does and suffered his first flashback to the time he was being tormented by Kerry's words in a North Vietnamese prison camp.
They buried their anger and the bitterness --and they waited. Most of them didn't know who or what would be the signal to make their move, but they knew they would recognize it when it happened.
On July 29, 2004, it happened. John Forbes Kerry came to the podium at the Democratic Convention and uttered three words that made many Viet Nam vets skin crawl: "Reporting for Duty!" At last the time had come for these long-suffering veterans.
The past was staring back at these wrongly disgraced vets from their television sets. The face it bore was that of John Kerry, the man who had shredded their honor without a thought and climbed over the bodies of their fallen friends to launch a political career. Kerry had stripped them of their dignity the day he sat before Congress in his fatigues and portrayed them as "baby killers" and "murderers." Kerry did the unspeakable. He had publicly turned on his fellow vets while they were still in harm's way and American prisoners were still in the hands of the enemy. Kerry accused them all of being out-of-control animals, killing, raping, and pillaging Viet Nam at will. The anti-war movement--the protesters--had their hero and he was a Viet Nam War veteran, an officer, a medal winner, a wounded warrior: John Forbes Kerry.
Many Viet Nam vets buried the memories of their less-than-welcome homecoming, and John Kerry moved off the national scene. The feelings of betrayal had faded, but they were never resolved. The unprecedented injustice inflicted on the Viet Nam vets has always lain just under the surface, waiting for a chance to be uncovered. The war had stolen their youth and innocence and John Kerry stole their dignity and rightful place of honor in history.
Like an unlanced boil, the anger festered but there was nothing that could ease the pain. These vets didn't ask for "forgiveness" because they had done nothing wrong in serving their country. They never asked to be treated as heroes, just good soldiers. All they have ever wanted was the respect due all the men and women who have worn the uniform of this country. Being allowed to march in a few parades wasn't enough. A long over-due memorial was not enough. The Viet Nam Veterans moveable wall only brought back the suffering as they searched for the names of their fallen friends whose memory had been defiled and disgraced by people who considered them rampaging killers instead of men who died with honor for their country.
Now before them stands this man who would be president--this man who holds his service in Viet Nam up as a badge of honor now that it suits his purposes. This man Kerry brags about his medals and his tiny wounds and demands the respect they were denied, yet he offers no apologies for what he did to them. "I will be a great leader!" Kerry proclaims, because of his brief and self-proclaimed valiant service while wearing a uniform--the very same uniform that they wore and were spat upon because of it.
All across America, soiled uniforms and memories of being shamed and humiliated have resurfaced and Vietnam vets demand their rightful place in history. John Kerry seems bewildered by the reaction of his "fellow vets." He has become defensive and angry because now his service and honor are being questioned. Kerry seems oblivious to the pain he caused three decades ago when he stole all honor and dignity from those same "fellow vets" for personal gain. Now he wants to use them again, for the same reason.
All across America, Viet Nam vets are smiling. At last, perhaps they can bury their demons. These angry vets are demanding that this man who sentenced them to being shunned as criminals, tell the world that he was wrong and that he is sorry for what he did to them. Kerry must admit that he lied about them.
For many, it would still not be enough. Satisfaction and hopefully peace will come when Viet Nam vets see and hear John F. Kerry give his concession speech the night of November 2, 2004 with the knowledge that it was their votes that helped defeat him. There are approximately 2.5 million Viet Nam veterans in America and they have not forgotten.
Kerry denied them their rightful place as heroes and they will deny him his dream of the presidency. Angry Viet Nam veterans, silent for so long, will finally have their say. Payment in full will be delivered to John Kerry on November 2, 2004. Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold.
Note -- The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, and/or philosophy of GOPUSA.