Guest Op-Ed- Vietnam

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I hope you will consider printing the following op-ed. I believe it provides a perspective on the presidential race that may not be obvious unless you were around during the Vietnam War.

Please drop me a reply if you do decide to publish this.

Thank you,

James S. McKay 14 Ridge Road Chester, CT 06412 home (860) 526-4236 work (860) 509-6451Kerry and the Vietnam Vets Against the War were Patriots

The announcement that Sinclair Broadcasting Group is intending to broadcast an attack on John Kerry by former prisoners of war in Vietnam is intended to paint the Senator as a traitor. While it is understandable that these men felt betrayed, the actions of John Kerry and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War helped me and thousands of other young Americans during the early 1970s and should be regarded as courageous.

In 1973 I became eligible for the draft. Fortunately, by that time the war was winding down and young men were no longer being shipped off to Vietnam. As a result, my peers and I didn’t have to scramble for a deferment, join the National Guard or flee to Canada in order to avoid serving in a war that we believed was wrong. A year or two earlier, and thousands of us would have been on our way to combat.

Our good fortune was due to the relentless pressure of the antiwar movement, which was largely made up of middle class kids from families like mine who were scared and angry at the prospect of dying for an uncertain cause. Yet kids like us were easily dismissed as agitators, cowards, and “hippies.” Our protests were derided as unpatriotic and we were accused of undermining our troops in the field. Our voices lacked credibility.

The Vietnam Veterans Against the War changed everything. They were a tiebreaker in the public debate. Here was a group of men who, unlike us children of privilege, knew what they were talking about and could not be easily dismissed. They knew the war from the inside out and had arrived at their views honestly. Their patriotism was beyond reproach, yet they had arrived at the same conclusions as the hippies. Maybe this antiwar talk wasn’t just for cowards after all. Maybe they had a point. Maybe we should get out.

Tapes of Richard Nixon in the Oval Office confirm that the actions of John Kerry and the V.V.A.W. brought enormous pressure on the White House to end the war. Their efforts saved thousands of kids from having to go and hastened the safe return of thousands of others who were already there. Their bravery in pursuing the peace was a true act of patriotism.

Some generations are called to defend our nation by fighting great wars. John Kerry and the Vietnam Vets Against the War defended our nation by fighting for peace. Perhaps it is time for history to repeat itself.