Thursday, May 1, 2008

Patriotism

From the Chicago Tribune comes this story by Lawrence Korb and Ian Moss:

In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing President John F. Kennedy's challenge to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," gave up his student deferment, left college in Virginia and voluntarily joined the Marines.

In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of service in the Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They provide medical assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.)

The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian and became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was assigned to the Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval Hospital, as a member of the commander in chief's medical team, and helped care for President Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery. For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the White House awarded him three letters of commendation.

What is even more remarkable is that this man entered the Marines and Navy not many years after the two branches began to become integrated.

While this young man was serving six years on active duty, Vice President Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the Marine/sailor, received five deferments, four for being an undergraduate and graduate student and one for being a prospective father. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both five years younger than the African-American youth, used their student deferments to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on active duty through family connections.

Who is the real patriot? The young man who interrupted his studies to serve his country for six years or our three political leaders who beat the system? Are the patriots the people who actually sacrifice something or those who merely talk about their love of the country?

After leaving the service of his country, the young African-American finished his final year of college, entered the seminary, was ordained as a minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church in one of America's biggest cities.

This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, who has been in the news for comments he made over the last three decades.

Compare him to the right wing hate mongers like Rush Limbaugh who are attacking him.  Limbaugh never served this country one day in his life.  Not that I agree with what Wright said, I don't even like the guy, but I think a little perspective is needed.

And what Wright said has nothing to do with Barack Obama.  Why hasn't the media held McCain's feet to the fire for Pastor Hagee, the guy who called the Catholic church the great Whore, and that was one of the nicer things he said.  Hagee makes Wright look like a saint yet McCain actively sought out his endorsement and when challenged has not denounced him.  Nor have the media made a circus out of Hagee. 

If we were voting for president based on who his reverend is (an asinine way to make that choice) Obama would definitely get my vote over McCain.

1 comment:

James W. said...

Truthfully, the media is lampooning the guy because he's black and he's behind a black politician. Hagee has said much worse things much more often but because he's white and is endorsing a white politician, it's OK.