“Let’s hope we’ve learned”

Laura Armstrong is the daughter of legendary Vietnam war hero Roger (“Black Bart”) Bartholomew. I consider her a hero in her own right by virtue of her role in reminding the public of John Kerry’s slanderous attacks on Vietnam veterans (“the army of Genghis Kahn”).

Laura writes a column for her hometown newspaper, the Marietta Daily Journal. Here’s what she had to say about the MSM’s rush to judgment on Haditha:

Two years ago there emerged a movement of military activists who opposed the nomination of Sen. John Kerry for president of the United States.

It started small, but multiplied exponentially each time Kerry talked about his military service. The media tried to ignore it, but was finally forced to report a slight rift among his band of brothers.

To this day, many believe, depending on their bent, it was either conservative Christians or the much-maligned Swift Boat guys who caused Kerry’s loss in 2004. But if truth really matters, it was a way-broader population that tipped the numbers in Bush’s favor.

In reality, Kerry’s defeat was due to legions of veterans and their families – from every war, every political persuasion and every demographic – who crossed over to vote for “anybody but” him.

Their reasons had less to do with petty questions surrounding his medals, as some liberals want Americans to believe, and everything to do with his time at the helm of an organization whose goal was to turn public opinion on Vietnam. Its methods included alleging widespread atrocities and undermining confidence in our military system. Members regularly embellished or outright lied about their combat experiences, though some top leaders had never even been to Vietnam.

Kerry’s accusations in the early ’70s, that “every level of command” perpetrated horrendous acts on Vietnamese civilians, were widely publicized. As a young officer with just four months in combat, it’s difficult to understand how he garnered the respect of policymakers, while those with broader knowledge were clearly ignored.

His charges, still unsubstantiated after 35 years, have nevertheless lived on in myth and revisionist history. But as Kerry learned in 2004, slandering one’s brothers-in-arms while they still fight doesn’t endear you to those who have sacrificed. Ditto saying their sacrifice was for nothing. What a surprise it must have been when he realized those about whom he lied had not forgotten.

In Kerry’s loss, I believe, is hope for the reputations and honor of our defenders in the war on terrorism.

It’s pretty certain the large military-savvy demographic that defeated Kerry understands it doesn’t take a conviction to influence public opinion on the war. Allegations are enough for some.

And they know some will try to capitalize on those allegations. Politicians will jump in front of a camera. Fakes will swear they were there. The enemy will attempt to use each bloody body as propaganda. There might even be a real atrocity at some point. Few wars are without.

But despite all this, I have faith most Americans will understand that folks who speak or leak before the investigative system is given a chance to work are nothing but destroyers of morale – opportunists who hurt real people with real families to further their agendas. And to paint all the troops with one broad brush, as happened to an extent in Vietnam, is so very wrong.

Let’s hope we’ve learned.

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