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Editorial:General’s Memorial Day marred
Introduction by John Larrison of La Vernia. Larrison is a USAF Vietnam Veteran who lost eight of his Squadron flying mates during his 12-month tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965.
As a retired USAF Officer (22 years), I understand the old saying, “Rank has its privileges.” However, our current Commander-in-Chief has taken that privilege (call it what it really is -- Arrogance) to a new level. Case in point: I hope many of you watched some of the news coverage of our Commander-in-Chief’s Memorial Day ceremonies over the holiday. But did you notice the lack of people around the Vietnam Veterans Wall during his “Photo-Op” at the Wall on this very special day? I would expect to see numerous families and loved ones somewhere in the area of the Wall which contains the names of those we lost in Vietnam. But no! I didn’t see them. Neither did you. I’ll tell you why via the following first-person account of the event.
This information came to me recently via my military network of Vietnam vets, and explains why. Not from the rank and file but from a ranking USAF retired general officer. I will not include any names because it is not nice in military circles to “bad mouth” your leaders and commanders in public, which the Internet is. No need to go to Snopes to check this one.
The original message had the general’s name and phone number at the end. (Note: He did not hide behind a “Call Sign” or email ”User Name”.) I called him and he confirmed that the information was as described.
From: Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (3 Star)
As I usually do each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I joined my fellow soldiers I served with in Vietnam to lay a wreath for our fallen at the Vietnam Veterans Wall. We always gather at 0903 hours at the Three Soldiers Monument.
There we meet for a while and after a few perfunctory duties and remarks about fellow members of the Blackhorse Regiment who had passed since we last gathered, we welcome each other home.
This Memorial Day, after walking across Memorial Bridge and rounding the Lincoln Memorial, I saw our guys all gathering outside of a barricade around the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. When I joined them I found out, to my total disbelief, that we could not enter: No veterans allowed.
The reason was that President Obama was coming to make a speech and the area was closed to everyone except special people with special passes until his speech was over five hours later. I was stunned.
Thousands of Vietnam veterans gathering like us, with wreaths in hand, to recognize our fallen were turned away so that a politician could give a speech.
Most of us had been there when Presidents Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 spoke. We were there for Clinton, although most of us turned our backs on him in one of the largest silent protests ever (totally unreported by the media), but even then, we were not turned away.
Today we were. I saw where in a poll that President Obama is over 25 points behind Romney with vets. If they all had experienced the treatment we experienced today, the spread would be even wider. I doubt if this will even be reported in the media. But, it should.
This was not our day; it was their day: the boys who lost their lives. But it was their brothers’ day to come and touch their names on the Wall and remember.
It was “Decoration Day” when we recognize those who gave their all for our freedom. It was not about our president and his attempt to appeal to the Vietnam Vets for votes.
Shut out, we met next to a hot dog stand under a shade tree and held our semi-annual ritual for our fallen. Later that day, one of our men stayed behind and saw to it that the wreath was placed at that section of the Wall where we lost the most during the war.
We won every battle in that war and were denied victory. We had to listen to an illiterate world say that we had lost our war. Our troops suffered more degradation, insults, hatred, and disgust from our countrymen than all other U.S. troops from all wars combined. We came home to a country that didn’t want us and to many countrymen who loathed us, but we persevered.
Today was just one more cut, but it was a cut that will not heal any time soon. I just wanted a bunch of you to know about this travesty. When we were turned away from the Wall, I went to lay wreaths on my mom and dad and brother and sister’s graves at Arlington. Guess what? They had that closed for the great man too!!!
Not sure who his canned audiences were at either place, but they did not include many veterans judging from the thousands of guys I saw going away pretty angry. -- Wayne
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Publius Valerius Publicola
June 6, 2012 3:18pm
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