Tag Archives: Vietnam War

Did the AG actually suggest that the cops might not protect us?

U.S. Attorney General William Barr sought to buck up the nation’s law enforcement network, but in doing so he seems to have suggested something dire and dangerous if the cops don’t get the respect they deserve from the communities they serve.

“They have to start showing more respect than they do,” Barr said of the public. “If communities don’t give [law enforcement] the support and respect they deserve, they may find themselves without the services they need.”

It makes me go, “huh?”

Is the attorney general actually suggesting — if not encouraging — that police might not respond to calls for help? Is he saying that police officers might give citizens the short shrift if they need protection?

Say it ain’t so, Mr. Attorney General.

In a ceremony honoring the top police officers from around the nation, Barr noted that military veterans suffered years of scorn in the years immediately after the Vietnam War; that has changed dramatically since the time of the Persian Gulf War. This veteran thanks my fellow Americans for the change of heart.

Are the nation’s police officers feeling the same level of disrespect? Hmm. I don’t know for certain, but it seems as if that the AG’s comparison is a bit overcooked.

If the attorney general is encouraging cops to go slow on emergency responses because the communities they serve don’t love them as much as they should, then he is committing a profound disservice to the nation … and its police forces.

A Thanksgiving to remember for the ages

I cherish the memories of many Thanksgiving holidays over the years. I will do so again this year. Our sons, our daughter-in-law and our granddaughter will join us for dinner. We will laugh and enjoy fellowship that only families can enjoy.

However, the most unique Thanksgiving of my life will be in the back of my mind. It occurred 30 years ago today. I was traveling in a faraway land, away from my wife and my sons. As I look back on it, I realize more clearly than ever the symbolism that Thanksgiving had in that time, in that place.

I was traveling through Southeast Asia with a group of editorial writers and editors. We traveled there to examine the issues of the day and to take a firsthand look at the ravages that war had brought to that region. We started our tour in Thailand. Then we flew to Vietnam, which to many of the Vietnam War veterans among our group filled us with another sort of emotion.

Then we flew to Cambodia, which in 1989 was a shattered hulk of a country. The Vietnamese occupiers who invaded the country in 1978 had just vacated. They left behind a nation in ruins brought to it by the horrifying Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot.

We departed Cambodia by bus caravan back to Saigon. It would take us all day to get from Phnom Penh to the city now known officially as Ho Chi Minh City; except that the civilians still call it Saigon.

After a harrowing trip that included crossing the Mekong River on a rickety raft that served as a “ferry,” we arrived in Saigon. We checked in to the Majestic Hotel. Then we went to dinner as a group, tired but ready to enjoy some good chow and each other’s company.

Our Vietnamese hosts knew that it was Thanksgiving Day, a uniquely American holiday. They went out of their way to make us feel “at home.” They served us a wonderful meal in the dining room of roast duck, mashed potatoes, peas and apple pie.

Was it the most scrumptious meal I’ve ever eaten? Not even close. One of my friends among the journalists gathered there called the main course “road kill duck.” But, our hosts’ hearts were clearly geared toward showing us some supreme hospitality. They succeeded far beyond measure.

As I look back on that Thanksgiving dinner three decades later, I realize now how thankful I was at the time — and I am today — at the bounty we enjoy in this country. Furthermore, as I recall the lingering misery we encountered in Cambodia, I am reminded of just how grateful we must remain in this country, where we hope we never experience what those brave and glorious people had to endure.

That dinner gave me a special understanding of what this holiday means to all of us. May we never take what we have for granted.

Students honor our nation’s veterans … well done, y’all!

The woman in the dark suit at the front of this picture is Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson, who today posted a Facebook note that thanked Palo Duro High School students and their choir director for honoring our nation’s veterans.

They did so by singing patriotic songs at an Amarillo business on the eve of this year’s Veterans Day commemoration.

It’s the kind of salute this nation has been giving its veterans since, oh, about the time of the Gulf War in 1990-91.

Mayor Nelson thanked the choir director for stressing the importance of honoring our veterans, suggesting in her message that it’s a relatively new event.

Actually, the nation has performed a remarkable collective turnabout since an earlier time. I have mentioned this awakening in previous blog posts, so I won’t belabor the point here. The Vietnam War was a dark time on several levels. We were involved in a bitterly fought war in Southeast Asia; the tide never turned in our favor; emotions at home ran white-hot; much of Americans’ anger was turned on the veterans who did their duty.

The Gulf War changed that attitude. And it only has gotten more heartfelt in the nearly three decades since that conflict. We’ve gone to war in Iraq, Afghanistan, in Somalia; we have engaged enemy fighters throughout the world as they seek to harm Americans abroad or plot to bring more terror to our shores.

I join Mayor Nelson in thanking the students and their educators for recognizing what the nation should have recognized all along.

Letter to congressman seeking ‘no’ vote answer on its way

Well … I have done it.

I wrote a letter to my congressman and sent it to his district office in Plano. It says, in part:

I have to know: Why did you vote against the measure in the House to approve the formal impeachment inquiry pushed by Speaker Pelosi?

I fail to understand how members of Congress can demand more transparency in these impeachment proceedings, argue with those on the other side who kept the proceedings out of public view, and then vote against a measure that provides the transparency you demanded.

I would appreciate an explanation from you.

Look, I consider you to be an earnest and dedicated young man. I salute your service in the Marine Corps and your service overseas in a time of war. I hope you do a great job in Congress and I am confident you will.

Your “no” vote on the impeachment inquiry puzzles me. I cannot fathom the reasoning behind rejecting a measure that answers the very concern you and others on your side of the aisle had expressed.

Good luck to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

My congressman is Van Taylor, a Republican who has represented
the Third Congressional District of Texas for all of about 10 months. He succeeded longtime Rep. Sam Johnson, a legendary figure in North Texas politics, given his history as a Vietnam War prisoner who endured torture and many years of captivity in the hands of a brutal enemy.

Taylor has been a quiet congressional freshman. he has towed the GOP line since joining their congressional ranks at the start of the year.

My note explains the nature of my concern about the GOP’s stance regarding impeachment. They want it to be made public, then vote against the measure that creates the transparency they demand.

I don’t know if Rep. Taylor will answer my question. If he does, I will be glad to share his response here. I truly would hate to believe he doesn’t care enough to give one of his constituents an explanation of a vote he has cast ostensibly on our behalf.

Patriot getting a dose of typical Trump response

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is no one’s puppet. He is the farthest thing I can imagine from being a political creature.

Vindman is a career military man. He is an immigrant who came here to this country as a toddler. The United States is the only country he has known. It is the country he loves and for which he has shed blood on the battlefield.

Yet he has run straight into a fusillade of fire from allies of Donald Trump. Why? Because he had the courage to tell congressional questioners what he heard in real time on July 25, which was the president of the United States seeking a political favor from a foreign government.

He now is getting the Trump treatment. The president decided to label Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper.” Granted, it’s not nearly as hideous as the comments from some of Trump’s media allies, who have questioned the soldier’s loyalty to his country, suggesting he is more loyal to Ukraine, the Soviet state he and his parents fled.

To their great credit, many high-level Republican politicians have stood up for Alexander Vindman. They have praised his service to his country and said the dubious accusations of disloyalty to the United States have no place in the current discussion. I am heartened to hear such rhetoric from the nation’s GOP political leadership.

Still, that doesn’t lessen the idiocy that continues to flow from right-wing media and, yes, from the president of the United States.

Career military personnel take an oath to defend that nation against its enemies. They do not take political oaths. They are as non-political as anyone in public service. So, for the president to call Lt. Col. Vindman a “never Trumper” is to disparage the oath he took when he donned the nation’s military uniform.

To think that this president, who famously avoided (or evaded?) military service during the Vietnam War, would even assert such a thing about an actual patriot is utterly beyond belief.

Invasion, incursion: Where’s the difference?

I am going to start referring to Turkey’s assault on neighboring Syria in more realistic terms.

It is an “invasion,” not a mere “incursion.”

Donald Trump pulled U.S. forces out of Syria, effectively abandoning our Kurdish allies who have joined us in the fight against the Islamic State.

Turkey responded by launching an assault in Syria, aiming specifically at the Kurds, whom the Turks hate with a passion. America media have been referring to the assault as an “incursion.” I looked the word up in the dictionary. It calls “incursion” a raid, like an “invasion.” I then looked up “invasion” in my tattered American Heritage Dictionary. It refers to an “invasion” as an “entry by force” of one nation into another.

So, have the Turks used “force” to enter Syrian territory? Yep. They have done precisely that very thing.

By my way of thinking, it’s no “incursion.” It’s a full blown “invasion.”

A notable misuse of the definition of such a military action occurred in 1970, when U.S. forces conducted an “incursion” into Cambodia during the Vietnam War. It was supposed to be hush-hush. It wasn’t anything of the sort. Our fighting men invaded Cambodia to root out Viet Cong fighters.

The invasion didn’t turn out so well. Students protested that action in the United States and at Kent State University in Ohio, four students died when National Guard troops opened fire on them while they were demonstrating against the war.

So, you are welcome to call it an incursion if you wish. Me? I’ll refer to the Turks’ action what I believe it is: an invasion, which fits that description far more than what Donald Trump has called the flow of refugees from Latin America into the United States.

An invasion by any other name doesn’t make it any more justifiable. Thus, what the Turks are doing to our allies in the fight against ISIS is as shameful as any invasion by one nation against another.

What would Dad think of this charlatan?

My father wasn’t a particularly political person. He didn’t talk much in detail about public policy or those who shape it. He did have opinions about some politicians and when he expressed them to me, they usually were negative.

He was a proud World War II veteran who fought Germans and Italians in the Mediterranean theater of operations. He hated the tyrants he took an oath to defeat when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy right after Pearl Harbor.

I cannot help but wonder what Dad would think of the individual who was elected in 2016 as president of the United States.

Although Dad wasn’t a keen political observer, I believe he was intuitive enough to know a huckster when he saw or heard one. Dad was among the best sellers of products who ever lived. Thus, I have to believe that Dad would know a huckster, a flim-flam artist, a carnival barker when he saw one.

That is what we have in Donald Trump.

I cannot ask Dad what he would think of this guy. Dad died more than 39 years ago. He was 59 years of age. He would have turned 98 this past May, so it’s entirely possible that Dad would be unable to process much of what the nation has seen unfold since Trump took office.

I wonder how he would react to the way Trump has behaved since becoming our head of state. I ponder how Dad would perceive the pronouncements that come from Trump.

Mostly, I wonder how Dad would react to Trump’s kowtowing to dictators, strong men, murderers, Marxists and assorted tinhorn leaders around the world.

Dad’s service in our nation’s time of terrible peril helped define him. He hated tyrants and the tyranny they sought to advance. How in the world would this proud patriot think of a president who sought to avoid/evade service in the Vietnam War? Hmm.

I have to believe Dad would be aghast, appalled and astonished that Donald Trump even got elected to the nation’s highest and most exalted office.

If only I could ask him.

Welcome home, Col. Knight

Roy Knight Jr. has come home.

It wasn’t the way he ever would have wanted. But he’s home. Finally. Fifty-two years after dying in battle during the Vietnam War.

But that’s only part of this drama.

Knight was an Air Force fighter pilot who perished on May 19, 1967, when his jet was shot down during a mission over Laos during the war. His remains were only recovered early this year. Authorities were able to identify through thorough examination of dental records.

But wait. There’s much more.

Knight said goodbye to his young sons at Dallas Love Field as he left to fight in that war. One of those sons, Bryan Knight, grew to become a pilot. He flies today for Southwest Airlines, based at Love Field.

Bryan Knight had the singular honor today of bringing his father home, transporting his remains aboard the Southwest flight. I am trying to wrap my arms around the emotional burden the younger Knight must have felt knowing he was bringing his father home so long after he said goodbye to him.

Good heavens. I am getting emotional just writing these few words.

What’s more, Col. Knight’s arrival aboard the plane piloted by his son was announced through the Love Field public address system. When the announcement came through the intercom, employees and passengers stopped what they were doing to watch Col. Wright’s casket being removed from the plane that brought him home.

Knight received full military honors upon his arrival. “Our Southwest Airlines family is honored to support his long-hoped homecoming and join in tribute to Col. Knight as well as every other military hero who has paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the armed forces,” the airline said in its statement.

My goodness.

Welcome home, Col. Knight.

Preferring a centrist/moderate to challenge Trump

The older I get the less radical my political thinking becomes.

I once considered myself a radical. In 1972, for instance, I got to cast my first vote for president of the United States. I voted proudly for Sen. George McGovern, who went on to lose 49 of 50 states against President Richard Nixon. It didn’t matter to me that I was backing a doomed candidate. I had just returned home from the Army, served some time in Vietnam, came home from that war wondering what in the world we were doing over there. I wanted the war to end; Sen. McGovern was going to end it.

I have learned over the years, now that I am a whole lot older, that radical politicians usually fare poorly at the ballot box.

To that end, I am leaning heavily toward a centrist/moderate Democrat to win the party’s nomination to run against Donald John Trump in November 2020.

The radical progressives running for POTUS this year tend to annoy me. I refer to the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Bill DiBlasio for starters. Of the three I just mentioned, Sanders is the most annoying of all; he sings off a single page in his political hymn book, the one titled “income inequality.”

My tendency is to lean toward someone such as Joe Biden, the former vice president. I get that he has taken a lot of fire from many of his Democratic Party primary foes. Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, DiBlasio, Julian Castro and John Delaney have unloaded on him.

A large number of other Democratic candidates are likely to fade away. I am sorry to project that one of them might be Beto O’Rourke, the Texan who once captured the country’s imagination by giving Ted Cruz a serious scare in the 2018 midterm election for the U.S. Senate.

Is the former VP the man to beat Trump? Time will have to tell on that one. He hasn’t looked like it at these two Democratic joint appearances. However, it is still early, man.

There might be another moderate to emerge. If one does come forth, I intend to give that individual a careful look.

Radicalism doesn’t sell with me. I’m too old for that these days.

My congressman is being seen more than heard

I had a chance to visit for a few minutes this week with my new congressman, a young man named Van Taylor. He’s a Republican, a former Marine and a former Texas state legislator from Plano.

I have no clue on Earth what kind of lawmaker he will become as he represents Texas’s Third Congressional District. However, I want to say something positive about the style he has adopted while settling in to his new responsibilities writing federal law.

He’s been quiet. One does not see Van Taylor on TV during every news cycle. Why? I reckon he wants to earn his spurs before he stands before the media to pontificate about this or that public policy matter. He says he prefers trying to build bipartisan bridges, working quietly across the aisle with Democrats.

I will concede a couple of points about Taylor.

First, he succeeds a legendary congressman, Sam Johnson, the former Air Force pilot who had the back fortune of being shot down during the Vietnam War and was held captive for seven years in the Hanoi Hilton; he spent most of his confinement in solitary quarters. It would be terribly bad form, therefore, for young Rep. Taylor to hog the spotlight while serving under the enormous shadow of the man he followed into the House of Representatives.

Second, he is a member of the minority party in the House. Democrats took control of the body after the 2018 midterm election. That means in many cases, Republicans’ voices aren’t as, oh, meaningful as those that come from Democratic throats.

Make no mistake, the Democratic majority has its boatload of media blowhards. They’re all rookie lawmakers, too. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York is everywhere, it seems. There’s also Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota, Katie Porter of California and, I don’t know, maybe a dozen or more of them out there.

My representatives is taking a much more respectful approach to working his way into the limelight, if he ever gets to that point.

I just prefer the newbies in the House and Senate to earn their place before swallowing up all that air time and newsprint.

You’re off to a good start, Rep. Taylor.