I served in the US Army from 1976 thru 1979. It was a time when most American Soldiers spilled more beer than blood. That was the case with me. I spent my entire tour in West Germany. There were still two Germanys then, East and West. I was in the Military Police. Part of the MP mission was to guard sensitive materials. We controlled access to off-limit areas and manned forty-foot guard towers, boring but necessary duty. It would have been a mess if the wrong people got their hands on what we were guarding.
Many of our superiors were Vietnam Vets. Some bore both the physical and mental scars of war. A few shared their combat experiences, while many did not. A prerogative, always respected. I was nervous the first time I climbed a tower weapon in hand. I was facing an unknown. How frightening it must have been for a young soldier out on his first patrol in the jungles of Vietnam. Their experiences were unimaginable. We owe an extra debt of gratitude to those brave men who came home to a hostile and ungrateful public. They fought in an unpopular war. The ingratitude they faced was primarily from those on the political Left. It was wrong.
The treatment of the American Military Person has become far more favorable since the dark days of the seventies. “Thank you for your service” has become a familiar phrase. I enjoy front row parking at the grocery store reserved for veterans. Americans are thankful. Our men and women in uniform, and our Vets, are now enjoying the respect they earned. Not by all.
The late Senator John McCain spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton (a notoriously brutal POW camp) in North Vietnam. When asked about his political rival, then-candidate Trump famously quipped “I prefer guys that were not captured.” A craven comment about someone who answered the call to service. He also mocked a Gold Star family. How can any American stand for that?
More recently, FOX News commentator Tucker Carlson branded Senator Tammy Duckworth “Un-American.” Carlson disagrees with Duckworth’s stance on the removal of historical statues from American cities. Duckworth, like McCain, is a distinguished war hero. In 2004 she earned a Purple Heart for injuries suffered during the Iraq war. She lost both legs in a helicopter crash brought on by enemy fire. Un-American? There is no record of Tucker Carlson’s military service because there was none. Maybe his shot at Senator Duckworth was a rating ploy.
On Saturday Night Live In 2018, Pete Davidson mocked the appearance of congressional Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who wears an eye patch. Crenshaw a Navy Seal lost his eye in combat in Afghanistan. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Davidson may have been making a political statement or a joke. Either way, it was deplorable. I found no record of service for Davidson.
Families in every corner of our land have sent their sons and daughters to war. Some of their loved ones returned damaged physically, mentally, or both. Others came home to be buried. These heroes and families deserve only respect and gratitude.
Brene Brown in her 2016, 99% talk (YouTube) said this “If you are not in the arena, also getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feed back.” Advice Trump, Carlson, and Davidson should heed.
Let me be clear. I am not placing myself in the arena. My service was benign as I saw no combat. I am proud to have served beside some who did. A fellow platoon member of mine went on to helicopter flight school and became a pilot. He died in the Battle of Mogadishu. His name, Chief Warrant Officer Clifton Wolcott. He was in the arena.
Nobody is above criticism because they wore our countries uniform or even because they spilled blood in your defense. By all means, debate their political positions, question them on issues. Do not attack their valor or patriotism. It is there they enjoy a higher ground.