Monday, October 25, 2004

Baby Killers

Today, I was speaking with a gentleman with whom I work at my early morning job (I might add that I gave my two weeks notice - finally! - and will hopefully be working a more calm schedule. Though with me, I make no guarantees!). Knowing that my audience at the moment was conservative, I made a comment about being concerned about the upcoming election. This man looked at me, and with as much passion and emotion as I have ever seen him display, he said, "That man called me a baby killer, and I'll never forgive him for that." What I was not cognizant of - though I believe it had been mentioned before - was that he is a Vietnam Vet. This man has lived a very successful middle-class life, with children, a good job, a hard work ethic, and has a great sense of humor. I have known him as an enjoyable, respectful, reliable co-worker. Never once have I seen him display anything akin to the rage I saw when he spoke those words. I asked him why he said that, and he explained that Kerry had called every man and woman that served in Vietnam "baby killers." After reading all I have of Kerry's congressional speech and his attitudes towards Vietnam after his return to the United States, this is not news to me, per se. However, what does it mean to me? I did not fight in Vietnam. I've no desire to join the military. I've heard the atrocities that were heaped upon the heads of our military personnel, and thought little about it, other than it didn't seem fair. But looking at this man today, whom I've come to know as a very relaxed, motivated, kind individual, I saw the damage that was caused by the Jane Fondas, the John Kerrys, the Michael Moores, of today and long ago. This man was spat on when he returned via LAX....and he has never forgotten it. I don't believe he lives his life in bitterness - but his honor, his character were attacked by John Kerry, in an immature, foolish attempt to appear valiant and gain favor with those whom Kerry saw as having more persuasion and clout. That attempt, those foolish words....they harmed our troops - just as they do now, when Kerry speaks out against the hard work our troops have risked and died to accomplish. I can't explain my feelings. When I saw such an intense response, I realized just how much damage our words can cause. Good men suffer because bad men are allowed to do as they please. While I would not limit anyone's right to free speech, the consequences of such "speech" should not be tempered either. We need to see the damage our stupid tongues can inflict to ever understand the harm we have the power to inflict. If you know any Vietnam vets, thank them for their service. They do not deserve to be dishonored - especially by their own country.