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Grateful attitude does not mix with politics

I’ve been wondering as Memorial Day approaches if we’ve finally reached a point where Republican veterans will have larger flags on their graves than Democrats? Each and every year for quite some time now, that divide has grown larger and more important to the “Thank you for your service” crowd. (If you want to test this, just smile and answer with, “I voted for Biden, you know!” and watch what happens).

I remember sitting in stunned silence listening to a known draft dodger, and yes, there have been a ton of them on both sides of the aisle — running for or holding political office — saying that John McCain was no hero, and in his opinion, “Heroes didn’t get captured!”

Where was the outcry from fellow veterans? There wasn’t much, if any, and far, far too many seemed to agree! McCain, a captive in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton,” refused to be freed early as a political gesture, sticking to the “first in, first out” rule.

He was beaten and tortured but refused to budge, spent more years there, and was permanently disabled from it. How heroic do you have to be? I say this about a man whose politics I almost totally disagreed with, but he was always a hero to me.

John Kerry? I couldn’t stand the man, but how do you disrespect a man’s service when he holds a Silver Star and three, yes three, Purple hearts, and could easily have avoided service in Vietnam at all? Once again, fellow veterans, based totally on politics, raged against him, forgetting what a comrade in arms is, what “Brother” means to a veteran.

I used to enjoy the camaraderie of veterans clubs, where people would swap funny stories about basic training or who had the meanest drill sergeants, that sort of thing, and once in a great while, late at night, maybe a really sad story of combat or lost Brothers. Now, it’s all about right-wing politics, to the point where even combat veterans are disrespected if they happen to lean to the left, or even the center of the political spectrum.

I never heard a Democratic voting veteran disrespect the service of another veteran based on politics. The right wing owns that attitude. So I have to ask, have we reached that point yet, where right-wing voting veterans are going to get bigger flags?

Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident.

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