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Oh No! Vietnam Again? Shame On Us All...

Most Americans wonder why we're wasting time debating John Kerry's military record from 35-years ago. In this dangerous time when the U.S. faces an enormous challenge in responding to a new world, comparable to that we faced post-World War II, we should instead be seriously debating the future and what is best to do now.

I am a Marine Vietnam veteran, with a 4-year old son who is my life. I hugged him and cried on 9/11, and worry daily what the world will be that he enters. Who will lead him, and to what purpose, and at what costs? That is what we should be considering in this presidential year.

Senators Dole and McCain, who endured enormous suffering in previous wars, appeal to put the past behind us. So, why does Kerry's old record elicit such passions?

Unfortunately, while almost all Vietnam vets put Vietnam behind us, went on to build our lives, and are not activists, John Kerry chose to make his time in service the centerpiece of his campaign. Most Americans think this is a trivial issue. It's as if John Kerry's relatively minor credentials as a junior officer for a short time in Vietnam combat are all he can point to as his credentials for leading the most powerful nation on earth in the current challenges. No one should deny the valor of this service. But, is that what the American people and the citizens of the world should be focused on for the man who will significantly affect our lives and the lives of our children? John Kerry chose to create this election battlefield. So, he must answer for it, and be willing to face the music he wrote about himself.

Thirty-three years ago, I organized the Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace in reaction to Kerry's organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War. John O'Neill and others joined me, and with the support of tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans, we rebutted Kerry's charges that we were all war criminals. Literally, no one was defending us, many Americans were discouraged by the charges, and we young Vietnam veterans were suffering horribly from discrimination in our efforts to get on with our lives.

Thirty-three years later, the surprise emergence of John Kerry as candidate and his centerpiecing of his Vietnam service stirred many Vietnam veterans to reclaim the image and honor that Kerry besmirched. We knew better. John Kerry continued the past 33-years to consistently misrepresent his activities and the calumny he brought upon us. That led to an enormous groundswell among now middle-aged Vietnam veterans, emerging from every walk of non-political life that we had individually built, to set the record straight.

It is well documented that most of the claims made by Kerry and his Vietnam Veterans Against the War were fraudulent, none of his anti-war vets were willing to provide evidence, and many of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War members had not served in Vietnam. We now know that the true leadership of the vets against was extreme radicals, directed by a Vietnam vet impersonator. Yet, John Kerry has never apologized. Youthful excess and zeal is one thing. Mature hypocrisy is another.

But, clinching the need for our public stand for the Kerry truth is his deceptive pride in it, fouling the perception of us among a new generation of citizens, maybe my son, that enrages so many of us. In April 2001, Kerry wrote that, "We returned home to an America that was indifferent, even hostile. There were no parades, only nightmares. Veterans were spat upon, called baby-killers." Yet, he continues to not apologize for his leading role in creating just that hostile atmosphere or exploiting it now. Indeed, in a disturbing pattern, only in March 2004 after exposure by those who served with him did Kerry's current National Coordinator of Veterans for John Kerry admit that his own published charge of atrocities is false.

We are not Republican stooges, as Kerry accuses any who oppose him. The proportion of Democrat vets is similar to the general population. We are simply pissed off and, once again, we are forced to stand up for ourselves, by ourselves, and yearn to fade back into our hard-built peaceful lives. We merely ask that America demand honesty of John Kerry, honest consideration of who has really demonstrated the public integrity to lead us, and hope for meaningful debate over our challenging future. Getting the staged uniforms out of his campaign commercials immediately would be the first critical step. Shame on us all Americans if we do not unite to demand this.


Bruce N. Kesler
Sergeant, USMC
Vietnam 1969-70
Founder, Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace

Last Updated Thursday, April 19 2007 @ 12:43 PM MDT; 8,007 Hits View Printable Version