Two Kinds of Heroism

A Vietnam vet remembers two unlikely teachers.


10/30/2004 07:00:04 PM

Atrocities did take place. Pulitzer winners of the 2004 award from the Toledo Blade recount the story of atrocities by Tiger Force, "an elite U.S. Army platoon" in Vietnam. Like the old saying goes, what are you going to believe, what I tell you or your lying eyes?


10/29/2004 04:20:05 PM

I do like Mr. Nylen’s refreshingly unpolemical tone, but I also find the article intellectually dishonest. To complain Kerry knocked the army by reporting on atrocities, when atrocities did happen, is wrong. To say that such a complaint paints all the soldiers with the same brush is tendentious, even if said in an even tone. The comparison between McCain and Kerry also reads rather partisan, for surely McCain has made a lot of political hay out of his war record. To accuse Kerry of boasting and to make that boasting the moral equivalent of Bush's lying goes quite wide of the mark. Why is he forgiving of Bush's evasions and hard on Kerry's testimony? Ultimately, he personalizes what is a struggle for fundamental American institutions. This race is not about the personalities, but about the role our government is going to play globally and the viability of democracy here in the new century. It's a choice between accountability and authority, and that I think is both crystal clear and no real choice at all.


10/08/2004 12:15:19 PM

BS"D Wow, Robert's article is really laced with truth. No if I have to decide between a partial jackass who is in the office making a mess and a partial jackass that hasn't yet had a chance to make a mess, I'll take my chances with the one who hasn't had the chance yet. He can't do any worse than his predecessor and there is a slim chance he might do better.


10/08/2004 12:43:14 AM

Maybe the reason for 9/11 and Bush's election was to show how easily we, as a nation, can be duped into accepting a rigged election and then invading a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 and has cost more Iraqi lives than were lost on that fateful day. Like the Pharisees of old who prayed to God to thank them for not being like the evildoers, a little introspection of American history from slavery to the Native-America "trail of tears," may shed some light on what God may have been trying to tell America when they elected Bush and were attacked on 9/11.


10/08/2004 12:38:43 AM

Bottom line: Bush does not deserve to be re-elected. He is no born-again Christian. A Christian knows he's a sinner. To this day, Bush refuses to see the world as it truly is.


10/07/2004 05:57:23 PM

An'aklasis from another country; you called our Presidential candidates "rich thugs". In this case "Rich Thugs" =Wealthy,Intelligent,Educated men with much political experience before they ever arrived at being a Democrat or Republican candidate. You haven't studied either party if you believe they are without seperate ideologies. We are definitely not a one-party country. Try reading our histories of both parties before you judge us.


10/06/2004 03:17:04 PM

Its astonishing how people attribute things to Kerry that he didn't do or that he was quoting what others told him. My uncle told me about war crimes he was privy too in Viet Nam. Whole villages massacred. People he had befriended and known for months. Then, some (&#)&$#@() tells everyone that intelligence reports indicate these people caught between Americans and North Vietnamese are helping the otherside and have to be taken out as enemy combatants. He still suffers from this knowledge today. He wasn't involved in the act but he was aware of it. No man, woman or child survived. War crimes occur in every war. To suggest that they don't is to deny the reality of war. Abhu Grhab was not an aberration, it was a microcosm, a pin hole camera view of a larger picture that hasn't been captured digitally outside the "green-zone". I commend Kerry for a being a true believer and then having the character and conviction to speak out against the cause he joined and call it a fraud.


10/06/2004 03:16:33 PM

Bush on the other-hand showed no courage, no character, no conviction by joining the guard to get out of duty, requesting not to be sent there, then years later stating that he supported the Viet Nam war. My uncle who served two tours of Viet Nam has said that he against the Iraq invasion and not to trust the military or the president. My uncle who left the continent of North America to get out of serving in Viet Nam has received his Viagra presciption and he thinks we need to go in there in kick butt. He felt the same way about Gulf War I. My butt isn't on the line this time, I am in no danger of being drafted, and I have disagreed with this hair-brained invasion since it was floated out there a few years ago. As Ariel Sharon told the world before the invasion, "Iraq poses no threat to Isreal". As Sharon told Bush after the invasion began, "the only thing you can hope for is to lessen your humiliation".


10/05/2004 07:48:11 PM

mitchellaw -- kerry did originally seek a deferment: grasmere is right Eventually, though, he did volunteer and served nobly.. But when he applied for Swift Boat duty, the craft weren't being used for the aggressive work they would eventually pursue.


10/05/2004 07:05:35 PM

makimus -- yes, i. too admired kerry for speaking up and condemning the war. However, I resented the terrible things he said about fellow veterans -- remarks he softened suring the debate, you may have noticed. I, too, am voting for the human drainpipe, as you so aptly describe him. Better functional if uninspiring plumbing than a human blockage. bob nylen


10/05/2004 03:47:50 AM

I find it strange that Mr. Nylen would be so confused about the comparative morality between doing what you believe is your duty to your country by serving in a war that you don't condone, then realizing what a monumental mistake it was and coming back to try to correct it, and supporting, vociferously, a war in which you are too much of a coward to participate. George Bush is an arrogant, hypocritical bully who still thinks his Daddy's money will buy him out of his responsibilities as an American. John Kerry is a dull, stodgy Yankee with the personality of a drainpipe, but at least I know which direction the water's going.


10/04/2004 11:12:13 PM

Kerry never asked for a deferment. Where do you get your information? I believe if you check the names on the Vietnam War Memorial, you will find many names from the U.S. Navy. Neither Bush nor Cheney wanted to die in Vietnam. They did not agree with the war but, at the same time, neither one had enough courage to oppose the war. Kerry had the courage to volunteer for the war and then as a disillusioned war veteran, he came back and opposed the war in the hope of ending it and bringing the soldiers home.


10/04/2004 11:08:28 PM

John Kerry served as an active duty Navy man from 1966 to 1970. He then served in the Navy Reserves until 1978. He served 2 tours of duty in Vietnam, the second one as a Swift boat captain. It would be a good thing if people in this campaign season would at least try to be historically accurate.


10/04/2004 11:04:32 PM

Mr. Nylen has repeated an historical inaccuracy that I have heard more than one pundit repeat this election season. He said that neither Lincoln nor FDR were military men. Not true. Lincoln was a captain in the Illinois militia and served in the Blackhawk War. FDR was in the U.S. Navy before he was appointed Secretary of the Navy. He did not contract polio until he was 39 years old.


10/04/2004 05:40:24 PM

Although I considered this a thought provoking article, one thing did occur to me. Many Americans compare candidates to themselves. They want a candidate that does not threaten their sense of self. I find this alarming. We aren't going to get any government worth having until we become motivated to find the "best" candidates to run for government and that is probably someone better than most of us. Until we can all get over ourselves and find someone smart, wise and strong enough to threaten most of us, we are never going to make any meaningful progress. The last thing we need is a president to make us feel good about ourselves. We need someone who can save us from ourselves.


10/04/2004 04:26:37 PM

They may seem like distinct opposites but I see them as being the same...with no clue. Kerry and Bush are ready to build and protect an American empire and they both have supporters. I'm voting for the lesser of the weasels here because a vote for a libertarian or green is a vote for Bush. How can that be in a democracy?


10/04/2004 04:17:37 PM

I can think of two things about U.S. politics which its citizens seem to be, for the most part, unware of. First, a democratic election is more effective when it is an election of political ideologies, not a grab-bag of individual causes and least of all of individual persons. Second, there are other ideologies and interests than those labeled "democrat" and "republican". To the eyes of foreigners, the US seems like a one-party state. You have no variation, no political spectrum to choose within at all. It's just two gangs of rich thugs quarreling about the best way to do the same thing.


10/04/2004 12:18:53 PM

i dont like bush or kerry much either(nothing personal i just dont want them to be my president) but instead of complaining about them both why not focus on green paty or libertarian party candidates. iam just learning about them myself but i found i really like the platforms they stand on (well mostly the green party). so if you dont like the republican or democratic candidatesjust remeber that there are others out there, but they wont stand a chance of winning until we focus on them.


10/04/2004 11:50:44 AM

barblee you need to take a look at what's been done to you in the last 4 years. Bush gave us the No Child Left Behind bill, really designed to harm public schools, and education. Now teachers have to concentrate on teaching facts almost to the exclusion of teaching kids to think. And schools have to worry about losing some of the little money they have. Bush gave us the Clean Skies bill that lets utilities not clean our skies; it should have been called the Keep Our Skies Dirty bill. Bush gave big tax cuts to the wealthy and puny cuts to the middle class who now get fewer services from the government. We have a war against terrorism and Bush used most of our resources to invade Iraq which he has never justified, and which has set us way back in the war on terrorism. Neither candidate is perfect, but Kerry looks promising and Bush is breaking promises. Kerry is thoughtful and Bush is stubborn. Kerry is bright and Bush is sly. It's a no-brainer.


10/04/2004 09:53:41 AM

It's hard to get excited about the upcoming election when neither candidate really shows me much promise of things to come. So much needs change and it just doesn't get done. We move from one party to the other and neither of them gives me significant hope of change.


10/04/2004 09:51:26 AM

I really believe that our system needs so many areas...where to start....wouldn't it be refreshing to have a new face, an ordinary person, not a millionaire, run for office ? Wouldn't it be great to have a man in office that really cared about the working man ?, about making things better for the majority of citizens, those that have to go to work every day....the tax system needs reform...we are taxed too much....our trade policy needs is out of balance....companies in this country should not be allowed to go outside of the USA to hire cheap labor...they must stay here and hire U.S. citizens. Our country should let our farmers grow abundant crops and feed the hungry of the world and let our farmers profit from it. These are just a few of the changes I would like to see....there are many more.


10/04/2004 07:54:19 AM

It seems to me there's a desperation here to equate two men who are very different. John Kerry was a war hero who saw the evils of the war he'd fought in and attacked them, apparently very effectively for a person his age. Since then he's generated an impressive record of public service and been a good parent. George Bush benefited from his family's connections to get into a special Air Guard unit with no chance of going into combat, gained maybe a million dollars worth of training and trashed it by not taking his medical exam, and pretty clearly didn't fulfill his obligation. Since then he has a record of benefiting from his father's connections in business, selling his decisions in government to big business, being an ineffective parent, and making moral decisions based on what his most rabid voters want rather than what's good for our country. And, contrary to his first campaign, he's been the ultimate divider at a time of war when our nation needs to be united.


10/03/2004 03:22:54 PM

And, just to make it complete - remember that a third person involved, the late, great Senator Heinz, served in Pittsburgh during the Vietnam era as a member of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard - but he didn't go for his pilot wings, content to be a noncommissioned officer with ground crews - yet Teresa Heinz Kerry doesn't seem to be offended when her husband's supporters attack Bush for the career choices he made when he was 21 or so....


10/03/2004 03:20:36 PM

Bob's moving piece about a complicated moral question could be even further complicated by the following facts about each man's Vietnam era experience - GWB volunteered for the Texas Air National Guard and trained to fly F102s when the unit by which he was lucky enough to be accepted was flying combat missions with F102s in Vietnam – but by the time he was qualified, 102 pilots were not for the most part being used in Vietnam even by the regular AF (guard units had been withdrawn). On the other hand, Kerry's eagerness to volunteer is mitigated by the fact that he only volunteered when his request for a Cheney-esque deferment was turned down – and volunteered for the one Service, the Navy, which was not thought to be much exposed to combat duty in Vietnam – and then once in the Navy sought to join the Swift Boats, which were not assigned to inshore duty at the time when he joined them.


10/03/2004 09:42:55 AM

So they both are just ordinary people...with feet of clay....we knew that....even though they might think differently. What really bothers me is just politicians in general....they are all too rich....too fat to really relate to the working middle class of this country and their problems...they are self serving and waste too much time....they lie, they cover for each other....they waste time and energy making the other look bad...they stand for hours jawing about things that don't matter...just to hear themselves talk...they make their jobs a lifetime career...too old sometimes to make any difference at all. Both parties have the same old rhetoric. I can not get excited about either party. It's just the same old, same old.


10/02/2004 11:25:56 PM

Bush never attended AA. He's what's known as a dry drunk.


10/02/2004 11:24:23 PM

The previous statement is based on fantasy.


10/02/2004 02:42:18 PM

Was Kerry in Vietnam? haha I know He was in Paris, sleeping with our enemy. But I did not know he fought with his commrads in Vietnam. they wonder that fact too! :)


10/02/2004 01:25:29 PM

Fascinating, and honest sounding. I'd respect both of them more if they owned up to their mistakes. The thing is, one of the reasons I liked Bush in 2000 was that he seemed more humble and less likely to posture. He seems to have lost that quality. Maybe he thinks in war time you cant show any weakness and admitting error is weakness