||logomachy--1. A dispute
about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words.
2. A word warrior.
Kerry Lied Rally
Logomachon booted from the rally,
Washington, D.C. 12 September) The rally was in North Senate Park, on the North side of Independence Ave. as it goes up Capitol Hill, just opposite Union Station, where I got off the subway. I was four blocks from where I went to high school. As I walked into the rally, a man in a blazer (the only one I saw off the podium) came up and said hello. He had been an engineer attached to Special Forces in Danang and had retired as a colonel.
Makes young girl cry
As we were talking, two younger guys wearing green berets with civvies came over to say they liked my signs. They were from 3rd Group and had come up with a dozen others from North Carolina. As I moved farther into the rally, another man in a rally tee-shirt and beret--with 5th Group flash--introduced himself as Ted Sampley and complimented my sign.
PicturesI wandered around in the bright sun, reading signs and taking some pictures. The crowds never came close to filling the grassy plaza of the park, but it got to be much bigger than shown here, taken at 1348 hours. Several people came up to say they liked my sign or to take a picture of it. The sun was bright in a hazy sky, a lot of people, especially women and their husbands, stayed in the shade.
There was a line at the rally information table, where signs, buttons, and gee-gaws were for sale. A lot of unofficial signs were on display, including one that answered the question, “How is John Kerry like a poodle?"
Joy of our youth
The old Latin Mass that I learned as a boy begins Introibo ad altare Dei; ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum --"I will go to the altar of God; to God who gives joy to my youth."
Time takes God's gift of youth from every man, leaving in return what satisfaction and accomplishment he has earned, always at least memories.
We earned the right to take some satisfaction and joy in having expended some of our youth to defend our nation and protect the South Vietnamese from the groaning horror of Communism, to take some of God's joy in having turned our youthful vigor to the ways of honor, in having taken up tasks of hardship and even mortal danger to fight evil . . . and in having won. John Kerry with the lies he spread for the enemy stole that joy, stole a lot of it. We needed that joy then, Lord knows, and have missed it in the decades since.
At least we have had those decades. For those who gave their youthful lives in Vietnam, Kerry’s betrayal was much greater.
American soldiers are trained in accord with the ancient Judeo-Christian charge that the soldier exists to respect and defend the widow, the orphan, the bereaved mother. Instead, from the widows and mothers and children left by our comrades, John Kerry stole all the joy they had. He assaulted their belief that their soldier-love had served with love and honor and had died in pursuit of the good and the right. Kerry told them their lost one was a shameful butcher, debaucher, barbarian, who had died a worthless death in a hopeless, dishonest, criminal war. In his betrayal, he is truly guilty of spurning the soldier's sacred charge that he falsely accused others of desecrating.
The programThe master of ceremonies was a radio personality named “Moby”. I guess his heart’s in the right place, but he is one of these non-vets who becomes kind of a GI groupie. His appreciation was a touch on the effusive side. Also, when he led us in the singing of the Star Spangled Banner, he did some cutesy things with the melody.
The speeches were good, often eloquent or penetrating, but I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow recap. To tell the truth, I didn’t take good notes. I spent the middle part of the rally chatting with a cigar-puffing helicopter pilot from the 1st Air Cavalry Division and another vet from the 5th Special Forces Group. (The pilot told me “When I saw your sign, I thought ‘What’s he doing here?’ But then I looked again and realized what it was about.” For the record, none of the Green Berets I met tripped on the irony. Or maybe they just liked the balls of carrying a pro-Kerry sign at an anti-Kerry rally. All the way!)
Here a few things from the speeches that caught my ear. (You can stream the video of the rally from C-SPAN. ) There is a list of the speakers here.
In various ways, the speakers focused on the nature and consequences of John Kerry’s lies and betrayals: Defamation of his fellow soldiers. His fraudulent war record. The public disdain and ridicule suffered by veterans and their loved ones because of the image he created of the derelict, murderous addicted, psychologically devastated Vietnam veteran. The additional lives lost and the additional suffering by POWs caused by his alliance with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese enemy.
There were two other recurring motifs: Welcome home, Veterans, and thanks. I’m proud to be asked to address you, and you should be proud of what you have done.
Navy Captain Larry Bailey (President —VVT): The rally is not about medals, or Iraq. It is about the Truth.
Dexter Lehtinen: Kerry has said his war was one of horror, atrocity, and defeat in order to build his career. Now it is politically advantageous for him to adopt a war of medals and defending his country. His “hope is that he can change his history . . . change his war to our war”.
B.G. Burkett (author of Stolen Valor):
Benedict Arnold . . . U.S. allies in RVN had 500,000 troops killed. Kerry told the Senate that our allies were worthless. “I’d like to see John Kerry go to the French and the Germans and say, ‘We don’t want Americans to die [in Iraq], we want you to die, just like [those whom] I said were worthless in Vietnam’ ”. . . Dan Rather’s “National Guard memos” . . . Years ago, when Burkett showed that “Vietnam vets” in a CBS documentary were frauds, Rather and CBS refused to admit error, but they quietly withdrew the video from circulation. . . . Rather, by the way, has claimed to be a two-tour Marine, but he was “kicked out of the Marines after four months” because he couldn’t handle the physical demands.Speaking of being kicked out, there was a small group of shouting protesters on the street behind the stage. The occasional Kerry supporter--or Bush hater, actually--who slipped in, like this guy in a Moveon.org tee-shirt, was removed by the Hill police.
Claude Newbie, Chaplain:
Asked for and got respectful silence for his tribute to both the fallen and the ones who came back . . . . Those who “answered the call of their friends and neighbors, and chose to serve rather than flee, to fight rather than hide . . . laid their life on the altar of sacrifice” . . . their wives, and mothers “laid their hearts on the altar of sacrifice”. . . Looked up the mothers and widows of men whose names are on The Wall. Found that the “character that made the guys what they were then came from their background and their heart”.
The helicopter pilot told me that when he got back from ‘Nam to his home town in Georgia, his friends, and neighbors who had known him all his life, looked at him funny and made excuses to break off any encounter. He had a month’s leave, but he went back to duty after a week. He also thought he had been turned down for jobs because he was a Vietnam veteran. Just recently, a woman at work told me about her first job out of college. She had mentioned at a meeting that her fiancé had been killed in Vietnam. A company vice-president had said “Served him right”. She slugged him.
. . . You who survived are the same kind of person you were then. “It took far more courage to go to Vietnam than to go somewhere else . . . it took far more courage to come home, knowing--because of what was in the media—what to expect. No parades, no welcome-home signs . . . might have to wipe some spittle from your face, some feces from your uniform; or get out of that uniform just as quickly as you can, so you don’t have to kill somebody.” [applause] . . . Recently met the widow of a medic he had known in the 1st Cav. Their daughter still suffers from the trauma of being teased and ridiculed because her father had been so stupid as to get his head blown off . . . “Greater love hath no man, than he that lay down his life for his friends.“ [applause] Moment of silence.
Heave-hoAt about 1530 hours a policeman came up and told me to get out. He took my elbow in a firm but Geneva-convention-approved grip, and we headed for the North end of the park, away from the Capitol. He seemed to think I should have been expecting the ejection, but I managed to convince him that I really was puzzled.
He said something about my sign, so I showed it to him. That wasn’t controversial, so I showed him the other side of my placard.
“Do you really think that’s a pro-Kerry sign?” I asked him.
He must have started to see the point. When I asked who his supervisor was, he said his lieutenant wasn’t there and volunteered that the rally Marshal had asked that I be removed. Then he added “If there has been a mistake, I apologize”.
I sat down on the group-X bench, one down from the group-W bench where a guy with a “Bush lied” poster was talking on a cell phone. The man I had been talking to in the rally had followed us. His opinion was that I had been expelled because the irony was “off message”. I think Marshal Numbskull really thinks that John Kerry is campaigning for the war criminals’ vote, or else Marshal Numbskull is a Kerry mole.
I went around to the South end of the park. I thought I might be able to find Marshal Numbskull and at least find out what he was up to. It turned out that there was a whole platoon of rally marshals, so I tried to listen to John O’Neill’s speech. John was definitely the crowd’s favorite son. He ripped into Kerry:
[paraphrasing] What kind of hero refuses to answer questions? . . . Kerry tried to hide his book The New Soldier. . . . Swiftees overwhelmingly think he is “totally unfit for command”. . . .”Has there ever been an American Presidential candidate who met with the enemy during war time?
I saw that a woman handing out flyers had an official ID badge. It was Amanda, the KerryLied.com Web mistress. She said she knew John Moore, but hadn’t seen him. (He was in the shade of the C-SPAN camera.)
. . . Kerry accused his shipmates of wanton disregard for life. . . . The Swift Boats motored slowly along the shore, telling the people through loudspeakers to leave the area. In one day snipers killed three men and wounded 17. . . . Kerry has a distorted, false dark view of history. Yes, we lost Vietnam. But it was a battle in a the larger Cold War. Kerry would say we lost the Alamo but forget San Jacinto, lost Peal Harbor but forget that we won WWII.
. . . The Vietnamese Communist news agency still quotes Kerry as authority for U.S. war crimes, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Kerry Kidz excellent subway adventureThe subway station was full of people leaving the rally. The first train was crowded, so I waited. I stepped onto the second train into a cluster of college girls carrying clipboards and wearing Kerry-Edwards tee-shirts. I could have found a seat, but I stood next to them, curious about what they talked about. I had left my sign on the Group-X bench, and my beret was in my satchel.
Another vet in a yellow shirt got on with his wife. They sat down in the middle of the Kerry Kidz. "We're in the middle of the enemy" said Yellow-shirt. "I hope you all aren't violent." The kids didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about, but he had their attention. One of them saw his “Vietnam Veterans against Kerry” pin. Why was he against Kerry? Because he’s a Communist.
“Oh, I don’t think Communism is so bad” said the crew leader, brightly. “I mean, in practice it’s horrible, but it’s kinda nice in theory.”
A Kerry girl with pulled-back frizzy blonde hair said slowly and sort of shyly, “My father is a Vietnam vet . . . and he’s for Kerry”.
“Then he’s a fool” said Yellow-shirt.
The frizzy-hair girl started scolding him. “Don’t disrespect my father. You don’t know him.” And so on.
A dark-haired woman, a few years older than the Kerry Kidz, slipped into the seat next to me and patted Frizzy-hair's shoulder. Yellow-shirt was letting his anger show, and was probably a bit nonplussed by the politically correct ethos. I watched him get out at a downtown stop, and turned to see that had been weeping and the dark-haired young woman was telling the Kerry crew leader “I think that what Bush has done in Iraq is the right thing”.
The crew leader was flabbergasted. “Bush lied. I mean, Saddam was a horrible tyrant, but Bush lied about WMD.” At that I had to speak up.
“The fact that Saddam was a crazy tyrant was part of the reason for going to war” I said. “After 9/11, we couldn’t take the chance that he still had dangerous weapons.”
“But Bush lied” insisted the crew leader. “There were no WMD.”
“Look at the State of the Union address in 2003” I replied. The dark-haired woman slipped under my arm and back to her friends, muttering “My work here is done”.
I went on. “Bush listed all the reasons for believing that Saddam still had WMD. There wasn’t anybody who didn’t think he did. That’s why some people opposed the war. They warned of months fighting and tens of thousands of casualties.” (The dialogue as recounted here has a coherence and pointedness that it did not have in the event and does not have in my memory. I tended to sputter a bit as I tried to talk and collect my thoughts at the same time. The crew leader was actually pretty well spoken, if not tightly logical. I’ve improved her lines, too.)
“Bush came into office planning to attack Saddam” said the crew leader, shifting the axis of attack a bit. “But all he talked about was WMD.” I demurred on the first point, trying to find a response.
“No, no. He planned from the first day to take out Saddam, but all he talked about was WMD! WMD! WMD!”
“What am I supposed to conclude from that?” I was still vamping.
“That Bush lied! All he talked about was WMD! WMD! WMD!”
Maybe I would have thought to point out that Bush didn’t bring the determination to remove Saddam with him; it was waiting for him. Clinton had made regime change in Iraq U.S policy in 1998, and John Kerry had criticized him for not being energetic enough in pursuing it. And of course it was in the SotU.
But Frizzy-hair was leaning over trying to make out the Kerry Lied Rally badge pinned to my shirt pocket. “What’s that?” she interrupted.
“Kerry Lied rally.” They looked puzzled. I suppose at the campaign mushroom level, opposition research isn’t a big feature. (And it is an awkward thing to talk about with the kids: Well, you see, dear, when daddy was very much younger, he said some things that pissed off a couple of million men . . .)
“We are coming from a rally of Vietnam veterans to protest the lies John Kerry told about us.”
“What lies?” one of them asked. I gave a quick summary of Kerry’s testimony—cutting off ears, etc.--and anti-war activities and their consequences.
The only male among the Kerry Kidz was sitting behind Frizzy-hair. He said something indistinct that sounded like “maybe he was right”. I leaned over and asked “What did you say?” He kept muttering. I was standing over him, leaning closer and repeating my question. I was just trying to hear him, but it must have seemed as though I was trying to intimidate him.
“How do you know?” challenged Frizzy-hair.
“Because I was there” I said hotly. “Eighteen months. Kerry was there four. Why don’t you ask your father about the ears he cut off.”
“Leave my father alone.” Frizzy-hair started to bawl. “He . . . didn’t . . . cut off . . . any ears.”
“Now you know how we feel about John Kerry!”
Frizzy-hair was protesting and the crew leader was berating me.
“She’s the one who brought up her father and said he is a Vietnam vet” I said. “She’s campaigning for Kerry. She’s in the game. Get used to it.”
It was my stop, and the Kerry Kidz’, too. Tenleytown. I grew up near by; we sometimes went to Mass at St. Anne’s on Tenley Circle.
On the stairs from the platform to the turnstiles, I came up with the dark-haired, pro-Bush woman. “Well,” I said, “I made her cry again”.
“She’s only 18” she admonished me (where are the uncaring, heartless Republicans when you need them?).
I considered letting the Kerry Kidz catch up with me, but high feelings might have made it an unhappy reunion. Too bad. The crew leader might have been fun to talk to and educate a bit. At least she could stand up in a discussion.
I ran all the way up the three-story escalator to the street level, just because I still can. Airborne!