Tuesday, August 31, 2004

letter to kerry

Dear Senator Kerry,

I began tonight looking at Ted Sampley's website 'Vietnam Veterans for Truth'. It is irrelevant to me if he is lying or not. I began reading the online forum on the site to try and determine why in fact Vietnam Veterans are questioning your honor.

Although there is some talk that your entering Vietnam was politically motivated and that you only enlisted because you could not avoid it. This is however not the issue that is predominant among these veterans, it is your activity during the post war time.

I sincerely believe in your bid for the presidency, despite inconsistencies in your senate voting record (not just on war), as I believe bills are not what they seem at face value. As for your war protests following the war, (I read your book 'the new soldier', I actually found it quite touching) this is something I believe if you are to win the presidency later this year, you MUST address. As I read through the forum, I found many sincere and heartfelt messages that they believed that you, a brother in arms, had in your post war protest and allegations, betrayed them. You noted war atrocities by our American soldiers, many which are quite sick, but which I am not surprised they happened given that they, in a foreign environment, fighting an unknown and politicized as evil force, were in the end only men.

I believe you have to reach out to these veterans and apologize. Not because you are wrong but because they misinterpreted your actions. I believe that you were protesting a government that put our soldiers in a situation that we would inevitably lose, not the majority of soldiers themselves. But by calling out to the Vietnam soldiers, in their camaraderie, your accusation of a few, have mutated into an accusation of the masses. They believe that you are a traitor and a communist (not that that even means anything since it is unrealistic to believe that world success is contingent upon worldwide democracy). You accused soldiers of atrocities, a claim in its truth that served to vilify all soldiers who returned home in the eyes of some. I have seen this kind of vilification. I have friends in the marines and in the navy, as my hometown of Jacksonville is a naval base, who upon returning from duty are called out to be war mongers and murderers although they were simply performing the tasks that they were ordered to do. By this kind of reception home, these men and women were hurt. I believe if you are to win them over and the non-veterans that sympathize with them; you must relive those years and apologize. Not because you were wrong, but to help them understand what you were hoping to achieve. (You must also explain somehow that you voted down an $87billion Iraq appropriations bill, not because you wanted to show Dean supporters that you were not a war monger, not because you are a flip flopper, but because it was not coming from an economically viable source nor would it have been effectively distributed. People on the whole are not willing to look for this explanation; you must tell them or allow the Republican propaganda machine to tell them. It can and it will).

I hope that you take my suggestion to heart; I do not want to see my friends in the military sent to Iraq, Iran, Sudan, etc. if there is no justifiable cause. I used to think that President Bush was an intelligent man, but one that was simply misguided in his interpretation of running the country the only way he knows how, as an M.B.A student. I think it has become clear over the past few years that not only is this true, but he is also not fit to be president because he does not know the issues and he relies on his cabinet to tell him everything. I believe this puts him in a position of having no domestic goals and locked into an imperialistic – post cold war mind set. This is unacceptable for the next four years. Please take action, Americans will not seek to discover the truth, most do not read the newspaper, do not watch the television, read the internet… Senator Kerry, you must let them know the truth and heal old wounds with veterans who (fairly and unfairly) fault you for ruining their lives. You have my vote in Florida. [the 2000 election will not repeat itself].

Very best wishes (and good luck),

Stephen Wang

Columbia University ‘06