"Of course, the president keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: 'Bring it on.'" -- Sen. John Kerry
As usual, you have it wrong. You don't have a beef with President George Bush about your war record. He's been exceedingly generous about your military service. Your complaint is with the 2.5 million of us who served honorably in a war that ended 29 years ago and which you, not the president, made the centerpiece of this campaign.
I talk to a lot of vets, John, and this really isn't about your medals or how you got them. Like you, I have a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. I only have two Purple Hearts, though. I turned down the others so that I could stay with the Marines in my rifle platoon. But I think you might agree with me, though I've never heard you say it, that the officers always got more medals than they earned and the youngsters we led never got as many medals as they deserved.
This really isn't about how early you came home from that war, either, John. There have always been guys in every war who want to go home. There are also lots of guys, like those in my rifle platoon in Vietnam, who did a full 13 months in the field. And there are, thankfully, lots of young Americans today in Iraq and Afghanistan who volunteered to return to war because, as one of them told me in Ramadi a few weeks ago, "the job isn't finished."
Nor is this about whether you were in Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968. Heck John, people get lost going on vacation. If you got lost, just say so. Your campaign has admitted that you now know that you really weren't in Cambodia that night and that Richard Nixon wasn't really president when you thought he was. Now would be a good time to explain to us how you could have all that bogus stuff "seared" into your memory -- especially since you want to have your finger on our nation's nuclear trigger.
But that's not really the problem, either. The trouble you're having, John, isn't about your medals or coming home early or getting lost -- or even Richard Nixon. The issue is what you did to us when you came home, John.
When you got home, you co-founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War and wrote "The New Soldier," which denounced those of us who served -- and were still serving -- on the battlefields of a thankless war. Worst of all, John, you then accused me -- and all of us who served in Vietnam -- of committing terrible crimes and atrocities.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.