Break the Chain Terry Garlock's Views on John Kerry

Created 2/16/2004 (2/16/2004) It is certainly true that a large number of Vietnam Veterans oppose Senator John Kerry's run for the White House, based on his opposition of the war after returning from battle. But, it's also true that many vets support Kerry's candidacy and see it as a big step toward closure. Terry Garlock's words are legitimate, but tell only one side of the story.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Terry Garlock Vietnam Veteran

For some Vietnam veterans, Kerry's words ring hollow

Now that U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is claiming the veteran vote based on his war record, both sides of that story should be told.

To appreciate the dark side of Kerry's war record, you should know a few things about Vietnam veterans.

The public and the press make a mistake when they divide us into decorated veterans like Kerry and then all the others.

We like to think of ourselves as brothers-those who fought the enemy directly in combat and those who provided vital support in protected areas that were in many cases exposed to attack.

Even today, when two Vietnam veterans meet for the first time, they might say, "Welcome home, brother!" because many were never welcomed home. They met the cold shoulder of an ungrateful nation on their return.

Those of us whose job was combat feel an even deeper sense of brotherhood. We learned to trust our brothers on the ground, on the water and in the air to do the right things to protect one another, a bond that cannot be fully explained in words.

We quietly feared dying in battle, but there was something we feared even more. We knew if we should panic under fire and fail to do our job, we might lose our brothers' trust or we might lose their lives, and this we feared more than anything.

Like Kerry, I have a couple of medals, but who has what medal among combat veterans doesn't make a dime's worth of difference between us. What matters is that we are, for the rest of our life, brothers who kept faith with one another in a miserable war.

A young Kerry, however, broke faith with his brothers when he returned to the United States. With the financial aid of Jane Fonda, he led highly visible protests against the war. He wrote a book that many considered to be pro Hanoi, titled "The New soldier."

The cover photo of his book depicted veterans in a mismatch of military uniforms mocking the legendary image of Marines raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi in the 1945 battle for Iwo Jima, holding the American Flag upside down.

Kerry publicly supported Hanoi's position to use our prisoners of war as bargaining chips in negotiations for a peace agreement. Kerry threw what appeared to be his medals over a fence in front of the Capitol building in protest, on camera of course, but was caught in his lie years later when his medals turned up displayed on his office wall.

Many good and decent people opposed the Vietnam War. Many of us who fought it hated it, too. I know I did.

But like Fonda's infamous visit to Hanoi in 1972, Kerry's public actions encouraged our enemy at a time they were killing America's sons. Decades after the war was done, interviews with our former enemy's leaders confirmed that public protests in the United States, like Kerry's played a significant role in their strategy.

Many of us wonder which of our brothers who died young would be alive today had people like Fond and Kerry objected to the war in a more suitable way.

Now that it serves his ambition to be president, Kerry reminds the public of his war record daily. But the dark side of that record is not being told. Many Vietnam veterans have taken notice, and many of us will vigorously oppose Kerry's election to any off.

Garlock of Peachtree City Ga., was a Cobra helicopter pilot in Vietnam. He received the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross

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The editorial above was originally published as an opinion column in the January 29, 2004, edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can read it unchanged and in its original context here. Since Democratic presidential hopeful, John Kerry's surprise win in seven of the first nine state primaries, opinion articles like Garlock's have become very popular chain letter fodder. However, his opinion is not representative of all veterans'.

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The Boston Globe mentioned Garlock's editorial in a February 1, 2004, column that compares Veteran supporters and detractors of Kerry's campaign. In it, they cite that "public outpouring of veterans supporting Kerry... has tended to drown out critics..."

However, on the Internet (especially, via chain letters), Kerry critics seem to far outnumber his supporters. The Globe attributes this disparity to differing access to the media. They point out that his supporters have primarily relied on television commercials and campaign stops, while his detractors have had to spread their message "mostly on the Internet and newspaper opinion pages."

As this presidential election year progresses, it will become more and more important to make sure you get as many sides of an argument as possible, from as many sources as possible. Break this chain.

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Category: Real, But...
References: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe

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