The National Conventions, the War and the Troops (Updated)
Former Army Lt. Col., assault helicopter pilot, commander of an entire Blackhawk helicopter company and Iraq War hero Tammy Duckworth just delivered her speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Her speech alone had more stirring references to our troops, to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to the veterans of those wars, to women in the military, to equality in the military, to country, duty and honor than Republicans were able to bring forth in three days of electioneering in Tampa, Fla.
This is some of what she said:
“On November 12th, 2004, I was co-piloting my Blackhawk north of Baghdad when we started taking enemy fire. A rocket-propelled grenade hit our helicopter, exploding in my lap, ripping off one leg, crushing the other and tearing my right arm apart. But I kept trying to fly until I passed out. In that moment, my survival and the survival of my entire crew depended on all of us pulling together. And even though they were wounded themselves and insurgents were nearby, they refused to leave a fallen comrade behind. Their heroism is why I’m alive today.
Ultimately, that’s what this election is about. Yes, it’s about the issues that matter to us: building an economy that will create jobs here at home and out-compete countries around the world. But it’s also about something else. It’s about whether we will do for our fellow Americans what my crew did for me; whether we’ll look out for the hardest hit and the disabled; whether we’ll pull together in a time of need; whether we’ll refuse to give up until the job is done.
So let’s finish what we started. Let’s keep moving forward with Barack Obama. Let’s do what this country has always done: look adversity in the eye and work together to overcome it. God bless our military and their families, and God bless America.”
God bless you, Tammy Duckworth, and thank you for your service and your sacrifices.
Many, including this writer, have wondered why nary a word was said about the Afghanistan War during the recent Republican National Convention by the leaders of the party that started, championed and that wants to continue that war indefinitely.
Nary a mention of the 84,000 American men and women who are still fighting –too many of them dying — for their country in “that war.”
Not a single word by the Republican commander-in-chief-wannabe on how to bring these men and women home safely, speedily and honorably.
Perhaps the only mention of “that war” was by a very unlikely person, a person whose words and performance Republicans would rather forget: Actor Clint Eastwood’s trifling dialogue with a chair in which he asked, “Why don’t you just bring [the troops] home tomorrow morning?”
But closely related to this and even more surprising during the most important and visible political event every four years by a party that constantly claims to admire and support our troops — in contrast to that other “military/America hating”party — was the almost complete absence of speeches honoring, thanking, appreciating the men and women who have sacrificed so much in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Wars that have cost us thus far more than 5,500 American lives and wars that have exacted such a gigantic and tragic toll from our troops and veterans.
A deafening, strange silence on the Iraq War. A deafening, strange silence on the Afghanistan War. A deafening, strange silence on the sacrifices made by our troops and their families.
At the Weekly Standard, William Kristol says:
Leave aside the question of the political wisdom of Romney’s silence, and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week. What about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing even to mention, in his acceptance speech, a war we’re fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it? Has it ever happened that we’ve been at war and a presidential nominee has ignored, in this kind of major and formal speech, the war and our warriors?
Even the Conservative-leaning Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization noticed this.
Referring to Romney’s “articulate and passionate remarks,” the VFW comments:
However, one point that the VFW noticed was lacking in his remarks was much mention of our reliance on the brave men and women who wear the uniform to execute those policy decisions; and the moral obligation our nation has to honor their service and to care for those who have borne the battle.
Looking back on the convention, we cannot recall a single mention of a specific policy relating to veterans. It’s clear that we have a lot of work to do – regardless of who may be elected to the White House – to advance the needs and interests of those who have served our nation. We hope we can count on you to join in this noble and important work.
The VFW concludes this observation with:
Your VFW will now head to Charlotte, N.C., for the Democratic National Convention. Check back next week for daily updates, as we seek to hold our leaders accountable for the needs of our nation’s heroes.
Starting tonight and during the next two days, I will be listening closely to the Democrats’ and especially the President’s words on the Afghanistan War and on the men and women fighting in it. I have the feeling that the party, the politicians, the president who have been so unfairly accused of not supporting the troops will not disappoint me but most, importantly, will not disappoint the troops and America.
Edited to correct the update on Tammy Duckworth. Duckworth’s Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was hit by an RPG, on November 12, 2004, in Iraq, not Afghanistan. Tammy Duckworth lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries.
The author regrets the error.