served your country – so what?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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It was 1968.  Lyndon Johnson had won easily in the 1964 Presidential election after finishing the term of President Kennedy who was assassinated in November of 1963.  But the political scene took a few nasty turns and in March of 1968 Johnson decided to drop out of the race.

Many Americans were disgusted with the Vietnam War, the blacks were disenchanted with the Civil Rights Act, the corruption of DC politicians became fodder for the frenzied press.  Brave, young warriors, disproportionately African-American, were coming home in flag draped coffins to an angry and unsettled America.  Those who survived the horrors of Vietnam often came home to chants of “baby killers” and were spat upon at the airports.

For many years thereafter, veterans responsibly assured future military warriors and heroes that this display of cowardice and disrespect toward service men and women would never, ever happen again in the United States of America.  If nothing else, the dignity of military service would be honored and respected regardless of political alignment or social status.  It had nothing to do with flags, parades, or memorial services.  It was simply a matter of revering the sacrifices of all who served their country whether in war times or peace.

During the 2016 campaign for President, the Republican Party hosted a wide array of worthy and qualified contenders for the party’s nomination.  One of them was Senator John McCain, a Vietnam War hero who was captured and subsequently spent five years in a POW camp suffering torture at the hands of his captors resulting in permanent physical disability.  Yet his documented valor in the line of duty was discredited by a man who had spent his war years in NYC “fighting off STDs” in a period of time which he termed as “my personal Vietnam.”  Trump referred to Senator McCain as a “loser for getting himself captured, not really a war hero.”  The 4 time draft-dodger went on to win the Republican nomination.

Enter Tucker Carlson of Fox News, a champion of the current POTUS and outspoken critic of anything or anyone not clad in the American flag and the traditional red MAGA cap.  Like his WH master and trainer, Carlson has not one day of military experience nor public service.  Yet, the self-proclaimed guru of patriotism has leveled a stream of negative invective against Senator Tammy Duckworth who had both her legs blown off while serving her country in combat in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Carlson called Duckworth, who is being vetted as Joe Biden’s possible running mate, a “moron,” a “coward,” and a “fraud.” He also called on those who love America to defend “our nation and our heritage and our culture” against Duckworth, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar, and those like them.

During an online fundraiser Tuesday, Biden said the attacks on Duckworth were “disgusting, sickening,” and a “reflection of the depravity of what’s going on in the White House right now.”

The depravity of which Joe Biden speaks is rampant not only in the White House.  It is a contagion infecting the soul of America, it is as deadly as covid-19 and it is spearheaded by men like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump.  Having never stood shoulder to shoulder with others in military uniform, having never spent a day in service to this old codgercountry, having never fought in combat and severely injured, having never seen the inside of a POW camp, how dare you, Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump question the patriotism of those who served with honor and valor? ‘Loser, moron, coward, fraud’ – the words are applicable, but being applied to the wrong set of characters in this sad episode of American history.

TAMMY DUCKWORTH

 

HONOR

NOUN
  1. high respect; great esteem.
  2. adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct.
  3. something regarded as a rare opportunity and bringing pride and pleasure; a privilege.
VERB
  1. regard with great respect.
  2. fulfill (an obligation) or keep (an agreement).
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Today’s world does not place a great deal of emphasis on honor – the noun or the verb. Newspaper headlines are filled with stories of individuals who have conducted their lives dishonorably.  My personal past is rife with dishonorable behavior under the influences of alcohol and ego.  That did not miraculously change on my sobriety date.   However, sober living did eventually make honorable intention a top priority.  In the end analysis of my personal inventories, living honorably with self-respect became more desirable than riches or fame.  As with everything in sobriety, it is not a pursuit of perfection, but rather a life of continuing growth.

Perhaps that is why my brain automatically zeroes in on stories of honor evidenced by other individuals.  This is especially true in the world of politics where that asset is in short supply.  Senator John McCain is one of those men who rises above political commonality.  We know his story and we know his politics.

I don’t call him a great man because of his political stance.  I have disagreed with his brand of politics on most occasions.  But, his life has been an outstanding lesson in honor – both the noun and the verb.  From his military career during which he was a POW enduring torture to his distinguished service to our country in government, Senator McCain obviously lived his life by a standard epitomized by a standard of valor and personal sacrifice.

His shoes will be hard to fill.  His legacy will be remembered long after the hoots and hollers of today’s political players will be merely a footnote in history.  His strength of character will be memorialized aside other great statesmen while the questionable character of today’s political movers and shakers will be remembered as nothing more than self-serving arrogance.

Living with honor and self-respect is not for wimps just as sobriety is not for wimps.  Senator McCain cemented my admiration for him during the rally for his Presidential campaign when a woman commented untruthfully about President Obama’s faith walk and his birthplace in a disparaging manner.  McCain took the microphone from her and proceeded to correct her assertions with a most eloquent statement of support for an equally honorable man, Barack Obama.  That response was class and grace as only a great statesmen could evoke.

We live in a nation which desperately needs the service of men and women who are driven by the old-fashioned ideals of honor and self-sacrifice.  As President Obama and Senator McCain have shown us, this is not a political thing, rather, it is a character thing.  Character is the most glaring absence in today’s political discourse.

When voting this November, perhaps we could become familiar with the candidates, disregard that R or D  beside their names and cast a vote for honor and character.  It’s a commodity available in all political flavors.  It’s our duty as citizens to find it.

 

 

JOHN MCCAIN

I googled John McCain last night and was appalled by the number of results which labeled him as “Hanoi John”, a traitor, a coward, a friend of the communists in Vietnam, ad nauseam, etc.  They were no less distasteful than Trump’s loser quote during the campaign.  I never totally agreed with the Senator’s political philosophy, but the man has qualities which should endear him in the annals of politics and should receive words of praise rather than disparagement and anger.

“During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. While McCain was on a bombing mission over Hanoi in October 1967, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. The wounds that he sustained during war have left him with lifelong physical disabilities.”          JOHN MCCAIN

In spite of the tweeting twat’s assessment of McCain as “a loser, I like winners”, and subsequent infantile outbursts about the Senator’s betrayal of party agenda, John McCain is a surviving POW, a man who made service to country his lifetime endeavor, and Senator McCain is deserving of our respect and honor.  I don’t care what your politics are, his courage and sacrifice cannot be deleted from American history.

In his remarks following Trump’s address to the BSA, Senator McCain stated:

“we are an important check on the powers of the executive. Our consent is necessary for the President to appoint jurists and powerful government officials and, in many respects, to conduct foreign policy. Whether or not we are of the same party, we are not the President’s subordinates. We are his equal!”                                                                                                               the new yorker

With his nay vote on the health care bill, John McCain exercised his ability to cross party lines and vote his conscience.  To the consternation of Trump and fellow Republican butt-kissers, Senators McCain,  Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have shown the American voter that there is a smidgen of integrity, ethics, and compromise in the Republican party.

The choices are yours in the upcoming elections of 2018 and 2020.  As a veteran, I admit that I am biased when looking at a candidate’s service history.  That directed my vote in 2016 when we had a choice of Hillary or Trump.  Neither was off-the-chart acceptable but Hillary had a legitimate history of public service.  While Trump was berating a verifiable war hero, his service record was nonexistent thanks to 4 deferments during his draft years.  When questioned about his military deferments, draft-dodger Donald Trump once said that the danger he faced from getting sexually transmitted diseases was his own “personal Vietnam.”  HOWARD STERN INTERVIEW

In 1997 with shock jock Howard Stern, Trump talked about how he had been “lucky” not to have contracted diseases when he was sleeping around:

I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world. It is a dangerous world out there. It’s scary, like Vietnam. Sort of like the Vietnam-era.  It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier.”

Our political world today is disgusting.  Heroes are ridiculed.  Elected leaders who have the audacity to vote conscience are harangued.  We were asleep at the helm when a segment of Americans brought Trump and his cadre of billionaires and white supremacists to power.

In retrospect, Trump was indisputably ill-equipped to serve with the men of courage and valor during the Vietnam era.  He did not have the necessary integrity and sacrifice to serve others rather than himself.  The facts of life on Earth force most of us to grow up.  Apparently Trump has never faced those facts.  According to the oath of the Boy Scouts of America,

On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

whom he flamboyantly and repulsively addressed, he doesn’t even make it to the starting gate regarding the race for wisdom and maturity.

We can do better.  We deserve better.  The elections of 2018 and 2020 will give us an opportunity for redemption.  Get to know your candidates and get out and vote.

 

 

 

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