I have never served in combat or been in a warzone for which I thank God. However, many of my friends are veterans of combat in conflicts stretching from World War II to Iraq. Such an experience marks them. They tell me that they have some of their best memories from their time in service, along with some of their worst. It is a crucible that they have passed through which is hard to completely convey to someone like me who has never gone through it. Usually they do not speak much of it, although often I have seen a quiet pride when they do speak about it: a knowledge that they were given a test on their passage through life and made it through, mingled with sadness for their friends who were lost. They belong to the exclusive club of those called upon to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. They are entitled to respect for their service, whether they are given that respect by the rest of us or not.
Therefore I take a very dim view of anyone who seeks entry into their ranks under false pretences. The New York Times has revealed that Richard Blumenthal, Democrat Attorney General of Connecticut and candidate for the Democrat nomination for the US Senate is one such person:
At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.
We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”
There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.
One of my personal heroes is Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao (R.LA). I have no doubt that he is more liberal politically than I am, but he is a man of the highest principles. Pro-life to his core, he voted for ObamaCare only after the Stupak amendment passed. He voted for ObamaCare, even though he knew such a vote was anathema to almost all Republicans, including the one writing this post, because he thought it was the right thing to do. When Stupak caved, Cao refused to vote for ObamaCare because of the abortion issue, even though he knew that the vote against ObamaCare was anathema to most of the voters of his liberal district, because he thought it was the right thing to do.
Recently, the Communist government of Vietnam wrote to the Congressman hoping that as the sole Vietnamese-American Congressman he could help clear up some “misunderstandings” between the Vietnamese government and Vietnamese-Americans. Congressman Cao’s response is memorable and may be read here. So his meaning could not be mistaken, Congressman Cao also wrote his response in Vietnamese here.