Tag Archive | "military honors"

Stolen Valor

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To set the record straight, this writer has to apologize for the title of the article.  But, it seems that no other words can truly express the subject matter.


The Vietnam War was a long conflict between the ideologies of Communism and the Free World.  But unlike our World Wars and Korea, our nation was divided on our participation in this battle.  Many people vehemently and openly opposed the war; some of those who were called to serve did not.  Some became “conscientious objectors” (those who disagree with violence in all forms), while others fled the country to avoid the draft.  Still others went overseas to fight.


With the aftermath of this war, our troops returned to home.  While not hailed as victors, our soldiers were simply happy to return alive. This era of anti-war demonstrations and political unrest ended in President Richard Nixon’s decision to pull us out of Vietnam.  Some political analysts saw this decision as a military defeat.  To the present day, many argue that the war could have been won had our politicians heeded the advice of the military leadership and not bowed to the pressure of the protestors.


Although the war officially ended for America in the jungles of Vietnam, it continued in another vein.  It haunted the hearts and minds of those whose loved ones in the military were classified as missing or prisoners of war.  To this very day, the hunt for MIAs and POWs continues, symbolized by the motto, “We shall never forget.”


In an attempt to shed new light on this still-festering subject, B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley collaborated in writing a self-published book entitled, Stolen Valor.  Burkett had served with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam; Whitley was an investigative journalist.  Together, they weave the story of how the Vietnam generation was robbed of its heroes and its history.


In doing so, they have challenged the assertion that Vietnam veterans were broken men and psychopaths.  The authors have countered those allegations with true stories of valor and exposés of the wannabes who disguise themselves as veterans of that war, wearing uniforms and medals to achieve notoriety or political status.   John Kerry comes immediately to mind when speaking of this latter category.


During the 2004 Presidential election, candidate Kerry’s war record came under fire via a book titled, Unfit for Command, by The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  In essence, the authors questioned Kerry’s receipt of combat medals, as his injury was too minor to merit an award.  Whether this challenge had any bearing on his loss of bid for office remains unanswered.


Kerry’s record notwithstanding, those who chose to serve their country in this war were caught in the maelstrom of a politically divided nation.  To add insult to injury, amnesty was declared for all those who evaded the draft by leaving the country, rather than fight for it.  These people were welcomed home with open arms.


The Vietnam War brought to light the consequences of war other than those suffered as a result of bullets or hand grenades.  It made the world aware of a toxic chemical weapon known as Agent Orange.  In addition, the war highlighted PTSS (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) and its effects upon the men and women fighting under extreme conditions in the jungles and waterways of an ancient land.


A brief synopsis of the Burkett-Whitley book is:


1.      The Image

2.      The Trauma

3.      Stolen Valor

4.      The Victims and Heroes


The work also provides appendices of awards and their recipients.   Lest we forget our heroes of Vietnam, it is well worth the time to read this book and gain an understanding of an era that almost divided a nation.  If you are interested, please visit:


http://www.stolenvalor.com/


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