Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Thursday, September 09, 2004

More Fallout from Released Records Re: Bush's Stateside Service

Democracy Now! | Shirking Duty in a Time of War: Documents Reveal Bush Received Special Treatment in National Guard

Bush's Guard Record Raises Credibility Questions

New Bush military memos released

I can't really blame someone for wanting to avoid going to VietNam. If I'd been a guy of the right age, I'd definitely have stayed in school for as long as that was possible. I very well might have gone to Canada. I don't know. I definitely wouldn't have supported the war in Southeast Asia, although I've always had the upmost respect for those who did serve. I've listened to the tapes my father made in Pleiku, the statistics, the emptiness in his voice. I never heard the one my mom destroyed, the one with mortor fire where you actually could hear it in the background (I'm not sure, but it may have been the time he was wounded by shrapnel). My stepfather, John, served during VietNam, also in the Air Force, but he put in for a long assignment, and of all things they sent him to Panama. But he could just as easily wound up in the Asian theatre. And he fufilled his commitment and went on to eventually retire from the service, too.

I guess coming from a background where most everyone had fathers in the service for their entire careers, I'm not used to thinking of soldiering as something people do for a few years and go onto other things, or part-time. But my understanding has always been that each time you sign up, or 're-up', in the military, you're making a commitment that if you do not fulfill (as in, go AWOL-Absent Without Leave), you can be prosecuted, or, in wartime, even shot for desertion.

But...it's a different matter entirely when strings are pulled based on your connexions to get out of the most dangerous assignment--a war where thousands are dying, particularly those who were too poor to be in college, or a minority, etc. Oh, sure, there were people who were gung-ho to go, and a lot who volunteered out of patriotism. A lot volunteered to get some control over where they might go, too. But a lot of men were drafted, and had no choice, and no powerful connexions to help them along. Granted, the military is a lot about hierarchy and connexions, but even more so, it's about skill and service, a forum where a sharecropper's son can, theoretically, work his way up to a good pay level and high responsibility.

The least a person who did get those sort of strings pulled for them could have done was be where he was supposed to be, follow all the rules, and serve out his entire assignment. Anything less shows either a great flaw in character, cowardice, some sort of underlying issue (was he drinking then, for example...or, if he were working on campaigns, did he get proper permission?)

I don't know the truth, but there are those who do. As much as I think Kerry sometimes over-emphasises his service, he at least went. He was there. He touched lives. What did George W Bush do while he was supposedly serving his country? I think we have a right to know. And I think the men and women who are serving in Iraq--and their families--have an even greater right to know.

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