Speaking truth to (diminishing) power

Last month, I wrote this piece about the rally held by the Vietnam Vets for Truth in Washington D.C. To me, the most moving speech at the rally was delivered by Laura Armstrong, daughter of Roger (“Black Bart”) Bartholomew, a First Air Cavalry rocket artillery helicopter pilot who was killed in Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day 1968, when Laura was eight years old.
Ms. Armstrong was kind enough to provide me with the text of a letter she sent to ABC Nightline regarding its attempt to enlist Viet Cong Communists against the Swiftvets. Here is what she wrote:

To say that Nightline found “the one group” who hasn’t weighed in on Kerry’s Vietnam service is total BS. While we’ve all heard ad nauseam from the 9-11 families and have heard the press talk about how Bush has offended them by using the images of 9-11, WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN OF VIETNAM, who had to endure John Kerry’s legacy of lies, both then and now, during this campaign?
I am one of those children, and had to endure teachers who censured me, people who told me (as a small child) “YOUR DADDY DESERVED TO DIE IN VIETNAM — HE WAS A BABYKILLER”. We watched our moms, young widows who were afraid to say what happened to their husbands because they never knew whether they might get sympathy or hate. All because John Kerry testified before the world that our fathers committed atrocities at every level of command. His lies based on hear-say hurt ALL of us, for years and years, and yet who’s interviewed us?
Many of us kids of Vietnam participated in a huge rally on Capitol Hill on Sept. 12, hoping to explain how Kerry’s actions impacted our lives, yet your ABC Washington bureau couldn’t even walk down the street to cover it.
And now you send people to Vietnam?!!!!
I am ashamed to have gone to journalism school. Ashamed to have been a journalist. I have NEVER been so disgusted with the news media in my life. ABC and other national news has been COMPLICIT in helping the Kerry campaign this year, diminishing the heartfelt testimony of American heroes and trying to demonize a group of valiant men who actually served with John Kerry. You call it the “fog of war” — I call it “marginalizing our heroes”.
How can we trust you to cover this war? The answer is — we don’t.
We are the sons and daughters of American fighting men. In many cases, we are now the sons and daughters who fight this war on global terrorism,or keep the home fires burning while our spouses, brothers and sisters deploy to keep America safe. WE earned the right to speak, yet you only seek those who might help discredit our heroic Swift Boat Veterans.
Just as ABC tries to marginalize the Swift Boat Veterans, you ignore us in order to interview people who might or might not be legitimate.
We will never forget this. Many of us will be working, even after this election, to make sure truth is known about our national “journalists” and their biased ABUSE of trust.
You, as well as John Kerry, hurt us then, perpetuating myths about our fathers, and you cannot admit that you were wrong today. That’s just shoddy.
Laura B. Armstrong
Atlanta

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