I was born in 1969. I have a few memories that date to the Vietnam era. My earliest political memory was the death, on December 26, 1972, of Harry Truman. I remember the gas lines from 1973. I remember Gerald Ford coming to Philadelphia for the 1976 bicentennial. I even remember Ford quoting FDR:

“We too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.”

But, even though I can recollect a few political snapshots from my early childhood, I only became aware of Vietnam through the movies The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979).

I don’t remember anyone disparaging the service of Vietnam veterans. I never heard anyone call them ‘baby-killers’ or saw anyone spitting on returning vets. I’m sure it happened here and there, but it wasn’t part of my worldview.

Growing up in the liberal bastion of Princeton, New Jersey, it was an universal truism that Vietnam had been a blunder, but the men and women that served there were never blamed for the failures of our leadership in Washington.

And I will never blame Iraq veterans for the bad leadership of the Bush administration. Moreover, I will be active in making sure that Iraq veterans get better medical treatment than their Vietnam predecessors:

In anger and embarrassment, Congressional Republicans are scrambling to repair a budget shortfall in veterans’ medical care now that the Bush administration has admitted it vastly underestimated the number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan personnel needing treatment. The $1 billion-plus gaffe is considerable, with the original budget estimate of 23,553 returned veterans needing care this year now ballooning to 103,000.

I am most disturbed to learn the following about my former Congressman, wingnut Chris Smith:

One Republican who warned of the problem – Representative Christopher Smith of New Jersey – lost his chairmanship of the Veterans Affairs Committee after pressing his plea too boldly before the House leadership.

I’ve worked tirelessly against Chris Smith, who is so crazed in his opposition to abortion that he wont even visit the largest hospital in his district because abortions are performed there. But he doesn’t deserve this, and neither do the casualties of our ill-advised war in Iraq.

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