I have to wonder what it takes to insult American war veterans. A year ago, BushCheney ridiculed John Kerry’s Purple Heart medals, questioning their integrity and demeaning him as some kind of faker. The Republicans didn’t just attack Kerry; they ridiculed America’s oldest military decoration. Delegates to the Republican National Convention gleefully wore band-aids emblazoned with little purple hearts. It was one of the ugliest smears in an ugly campaign, the kind of campaign that would be expected from the architects of smears against other veterans like Max Cleland and John McCain. All of this coming after BushCheney sent American forces into the meat grinder of Iraq based on lies and falsehoods, with no real planning for the inevitable post invasion chaos, with too little manpower and equipment to do the job. As a veteran, I cannot imagine any greater disrespect for the American military.
And yet the Military Order of the Purple Heart invites Dick Cheney to address their annual meeting and gives him a friendly audience of combat veterans. Why these veterans would have anything to do with a man who has shown nothing but contempt for military service throughout his life is beyond me. Dick Cheney, was unwilling to serve in the military and has never seen war for what it is, is quite willing to send Americans to fight and die in pursuit of “global leadership”. Maybe it plays to the veterans’ own militarism, their belief in the power of American arms and their own glory days. I don’t know. It just makes no sense to me that anyone who has served in combat (these guys did; that’s how they won their Purple Hearts) would give any credibility to a man who blindly and purposefully lead America into the Iraqi quagmire where the best we can expect now is the least bad of several ugly outcomes. All this at the cost of almost 2,000 American and tens of thousand Iraqi lives. So far.
Dick Cheney, speaking to men and women who should know what sacrifice really means, describes himself and George W as latter day George Washingtons.
The vice president cited the darkest days of the American Revolution, when the war was going badly and ragtag rebels were ready to go home until George Washington rallied them. "They stayed in the fight, and America won the war," he said. "From that day to this, our country has always counted on the bravest among us to answer the call of duty."
But Dick Cheney left out an essential part of the equation, the part about Americans also counting on leaders who are honest. The Military Order of the Purple Heart does not recognize the sheer dishonesty of Cheney’s words and the lies behind his call for others to serve. Whatever, their contributions to America in the past, these veterans are putting their honor and trust in the service of BushCheney's lies and deceit.
I guess it takes a lot to insult American veterans, if BushCheney’s disrespect and dishonesty do not. If history is any guide, what it takes to insult American veterans is the truth. John Kerry spoke the truth about Vietnam in 1971 and has been vilified for his words, which were based on the testimony of many who are eligible to join the Military Order of the Purple Heart, ever since.
Peter Townsend was wrong. We will get fooled again.