As a former POW from the Vietnam War incarcerated in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison system for more than six years, I felt, first-hand, the results of the anti-war protesters’ misdirected efforts.
The rigors and hardships of being a POW aside, I remember the so-called “peace movement” marches and rallies that were taking place back home in the U.S.A. Our captors were more than willing to provide us with any and all anti-U.S. and anti-Vietnam War propaganda. Without a choice in the matter, we listened to the “Voice of Vietnam” broadcasts by “Hanoi Hannah,” and were shown photos and articles about those opposing the war back in the states. The peace marchers’ standard slogan was, “Bring our boys home now and alive.” The warped thinking of such people was that by demonstrating against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, they’d be shortening the war and reducing the number of American casualties. These demonstrators would also try to make one believe that their efforts would bring POWs like me home sooner. They were utterly wrong on both counts, not to mention the detrimental effects on the morale of our troops and our POWs.
Instead of shortening the war, the “so-called peace movement” served only to protract the conflict resulting in a vastly greater number of Americans killed and wounded, greater economic burdens and longer periods of incarceration for Americans held captive in Vietnam. The war would have been over much sooner and with a much more favorable result if those in the so-called peace movement would have instead rallied behind the commander-in-chief to accomplish our mission and then, withdraw.
It is inescapable to think of the so-called peace movement and the anti-war demonstrators without also thinking how many fewer names there would now be engraved into the black granite of the Vietnam Wall if these same people had supported our efforts instead of trying to derail them. Such is the eternal sorrow of the misdirected actions of John Kerry and “Hanoi Jane Fonda.” According to published figures, there would have been 9,947 fewer KIAs if the war ended in 1969 and 21,722 fewer if it had ended in 1968. This is the shameful, notorious legacy of the John Kerrys and the Jane Fondas.
After the war ended, some of the war protesters hung on to their anti-war postures for a while. Some of them realized the errors of their ways almost immediately, while for others it took 20 to 25 years.
But some, like John F. Kerry, have not realized there was anything wrong with what they did. Or, perhaps he was not able to muster up the courage to admit his actions were wrong. Ask yourself which of these two alternative explanations is more unacceptable for a presidential candidate.
Now, for reasons that are obvious to even the most casual observer, Senator John Kerry has the military medals awarded to him on display in his Senate office in Washington. Wait a minute, I thought he made a spectacle of throwing them away over the fence onto the White House lawn. Did he get two sets of medals? I only got one set.
In the present context John Kerry hopes that we will see him not as a war protester, but rather as a courageous Vietnam veteran. I do not. He hopes we will admire his bravery. I do not. I still remember him much more clearly for his un-American misdeeds upon his return from Vietnam.
However, in the present political arena, he evidently has succeeded in gaining the support of some well-meaning but misled Americans. Given his past record, it is just astonishing that he has garnered any support from our nation’s veterans.
I hope you will reconsider your support for Senator Kerry in light of his actions, which were so detrimental to our Vietnam combat soldiers, sailors and airmen, so many of whom are not here today to tell you themselves.