Real heroes don't call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don't brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are "I'm a war hero."
Real heroes (and I've been honored to know some) never portray their service in grandiose terms, telling TV cameras that they're reporting for duty. Real heroes may be proud of the sacrifices they offered, but they don't shout for attention.
This is so profoundly a part of the military code of behavior that it cannot be over-emphasized. The rule is that those who brag about being heroes usually aren't heroes at all. Bragging is for drunks at the end of the bar, not for real vets. And certainly not for anyone who wishes to trade on his service to become our commander-in-chief.
I'm glad somebody said this, because I couldn't without being called a chickenhawk. It should be added that real heroes don't request Purple Hearts
, especially for minor wounds that didn't even require stitches.
It's been my experience with men I respect who served in Vietnam, that they don't talk about it a lot, except with other vets. I see others on the History Channel whose memories are so seared into them that they can't talk about them without choking up. I respect and admire these men, and though I never got to serve, I still think that military service is an honorable thing and is a duty of citizenship, whenever our country calls on us. The draft was necessary in WWII, but it should have been dropped much sooner, because in Vietnam it snagged a lot of kids who didn't want to be there and morale suffered, and some of them went native, resorting to VC-type tactics. But not all of them and not really all that many of them.
For Kerry to want to claim brothership with all the veterans he accused of war crimes is a betrayal you can't just brush off because it was 35 years ago. The memories of combat don't go away and neither does that testimony. Kerry has never done anything in his life out of real conviction. He didn't even give his heart to the Anti-war Movement. Throwing borrowed ribbons over the White House fence is the main symbol of his life. He wants the credit but he doesn't even understand the substance of heroism.
Update: The Kerry Spot
reminds us of Kerry's snotty remarks about Admiral Mike Boorda who committed suicide in 1996 after he was criticized for wearing "V" clips over two of his medals. "The clips are awarded for valor under fire, and there was some doubt about whether Boorda's two tours in Vietnam aboard combat ships qualified him for the awards."
Considering Kerry's comments at the time about the propriety of wearing medals you didn't earn, I don't think that the SBVFT criticisms are really so overblown at all:
Is it wrong [to wear medals falsely]? Yes, it is very wrong. Sufficient to question his leadership position? The answer is yes, which he clearly understood.
Personally, I'm not qualfied to say what medals he should or shouldn't wear or even have been awarded, but his hypocrisy has opened a yawning pit under his candidacy that is getting wider all the time, and calling his critics liars and blaming Bush just adds to it. Here's more.
The news media folks who dismiss this story are part of the problem. Juan Williams went ballistic last night on FNC's Special Report about this story being given too much publicity, but I don't remember him objecting to all the poring over Bush's National Guard attendance records. Their reaction to questions about fairness and objectivity is "We can't be biased because we decide what is news, and this isn't news."