Monday, April 03, 2006

On Purple Hearts and POWs

If you are a fan of the actor Will Farrell you probably know one of his famous skits from Saturday Night Live in which he exclaims that he “drives a Dodge Stratus!” while at the dinner table with his family one night. He does so in order to command respect from his family and to show that his what he says has credibility because he drives a “nice” car. I attach the same sentiment that Will Farrell has in this skit to the sentiment that politicians have when they campaign on their war service or record as a prisoner of war. Before I get into this post I want to make sure that everyone knows that I am in no way poking fun or making light of people who have been POWs or have been awarded a purple heart, however, John Kerry is still open game. With that understood lets make fun of some war vets (geez just kidding of course.)

I thought about writing on this topic after I saw some pictures on the Internet of Tammy Duckworth who is running for congress on the premise that she is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and opposed to the war. Imagine that: a soldier who broke free from the mind control of the government and disagrees with our presence in Iraq, why we should elect her right now! Quick someone send me an absentee ballot. To think that being a veteran is qualification enough to run for office is absurd. I have been deployed twice why am I not the President yet?

A soldier may know how to shoot their weapon, jump out of a plane, and march in time but does that say anything about their ability to control the economy, knowing the law, or being able to decide the country’s fate? I do believe being a veteran is an important step in becoming an elected official. Serving in the military shows a love for one’s country and a desire to put other’s needs before one’s own. Serving in the military gives one a better understanding about national defense and what it takes to have a free country. Past and present members of the military know what it is to sacrifice. They have spent many days away from their families: birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and the births of their children to name a few.

Do all elected officials need to be prior-military members? I would say no. Read my previous blog called “What It Takes” and you will understand my position on those who have not and will not serve in the military. I do believe it would greatly benefit those who make the decisions concerning military matters in this country to have some prior military experience (JROTC does not count.) I think military experience would also be a great help for journalists who report on military matters. Then journalists would know the difference between mortar rounds and missiles.

So someone has a purple heart, or an enemy marksmanship badge as soldiers like to call them, does that make them any different then someone without a purple heart? Does that make them any better of a person or political leader? Does it make them more likely to be elected to public office? No, no, and yes apparently. I know many great soldiers who have served in combat situations and have performed honorably and never received a purple heart. I know some dead beats that wouldn’t be fit to lead themselves to the grocery store who have purple hearts. While I do not know anyone who was a prisoner of war, I would be willing to put money on it that they could fall under my same assessment of those with purple hearts. However, enduring under the duress of being a prisoner of war is commendable and I imagine it builds quite a bit of character, which of course is needed in a good leader.

The bottom line is that someone’s ability to lead does not come from their being hurt or captured by an enemy during a time of war. The ability and smarts to lead comes independently of military awards. Watching John Kerry campaign last election and mention over and over about his three Purple Hearts was sickening to me. Someone has to be utterly despicable to talk about how great they were during war. Real soldiers do their job and get on with life. I for one wouldn’t be bragging about a Purple Heart and hope to never get one. However, like I said before I do not mean to demean anyone with a Purple Heart I am merely making a point, please don’t take me the wrong way. Those who sacrifice their bodies in defense of freedom are honorable and should be remembered as being so. Tammy Duckworth should be commended for her service to the country, not elected because of it. Now if she has a good platform and seems like a decent woman then maybe one should vote for her, but votes should not be cast in favor of someone solely because of their service record.

The purpose of this post is not to discuss Tammy Duckworth (she merely serves as an example) but rather, to bring light to the fact that people tend to give veterans way too much credit. We are normal people believe it or not with one glaring difference: we served in the military. We definitely have our faults and while some of those in the military may be among the “best and brightest” most of us aren’t. In the future vote for people based on their ability to get their intended job done not because they were wounded or captured by an enemy combatant

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a good blog Sgt. Boggs! Being from Arizona we know what you are talking about as that great State has an elected POW that you may have heard of and we have often thought the same things as what you wrote. I also had a Marine husband with a purple heart whom I was very proud of, with or without his purple heart and limp. We need elected officials with qualifications as you described regardless of military service. We understand what you were saying and thanks for saying it. And we appreciate all of you men fighting now, both "the best and the brightest" and those "others" who are more like we are, let's say not the sharpest knives in the drawer, not so much the best and the brightest, but still doing one heck of a job. We do say that if you take a look around on the streets of this country, we still think that all of you ARE the best and brightest. At any rate you all are doing more than we are doing and we count on ALL of you for our freedom and for the many other things you are doing for people around the world, who also would be in a pickle without you. After all, great leaders do need a lot of great followers, don't they. Some folks just don't recognize which group they fall into maybe. And then some of us should just sit down and shut up - - -so I will. Thanks Boggs for another interesting Blog fit into your very busy day. Please be of good cheer and don't get any purple hearts on our account.....please!!
A & N

Praguetwin said...

Boggs for president!!!

BUCK SARGENT said...

Hey Boggs,

You ever see wedding crashers? Where they use the wearing of fake purple hearts as a ploy to "pick up chicks"? Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I thought that was in rather poor taste. And Vince Vaughan even came to visit us in Afghanistan while we were there. I've got a picture with him; that dude is TALL. Don't know what he was thinking in that movie, though.

What does this have to do with your post? Absolutely nothing.

JeffreygeneHK said...

Hey there TF - first post from me, maybe the first of many. Who knows. Many thanks for putting your thoughts out here on the www for the world to see.

Before I put my thoughts out there about your post, let me just say publicly how impressed I am with your decision to serve in the army. When I heard through the grapevine about your first assignment overseas, I felt a mixture of pride, jealousy, and fear. Pride at knowing someone who was taking such a noble step. Jealousy because I think of myself as a patriotic American citizen, but I know deep down that I'm not cut out for service. I couldn't help but ask myself - "Does that make me less patriotic than you?" And fear because I think highly of you and you're putting yourself in harm's way.

(to Boggs' other regular readers - we're the same age, grew up going to the same church.)

That opening having been stated - my thoughts on your post:

At some points you seemed to say that prior military experience shouldn't factor in one tiny bit when considering the merits of an elected official. But at other points you were acknowledging that having served in the military is often an indicator of traits important in an elected official (ie, selflessness, strength of character, patriotism, leadership).

I agree strongly with this sentence: "votes should not be cast in favor of someone solely because of their service record."

I particularly like that word "solely".

Choosing elected officials is a difficult choice - how does a citizen discover who the real person is behind the public face all candidates must present? Any candidate honestly pursuing a position should NOT base their campaign "solely" on only one experience that may very well be irrelevant. In the case of Duckworth, that one trait is her prior military experience.

Persevering in service of one's country certainly should count for something. But not everything.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry PT but I just can't picture Boggs as President. He has too much heart!! He's more like the guy who guards the President and kicks everybody's rears and gives the President advice in private, secretely running the country. Groovy, Buck Sargent. You actually met Vince Vaughn! I heard he is a nice guy. Is it true? But I bet you could take him Buck in a fight. Can I call you BS for short? Thought I better get permission on that one, even from the other side of the planet. And by the way, GREAT post Boggs!!!!!!! Take care.
Neatie

the dude said...

This is a shameless way to use my brothers blog, but I want to say hi to my old friend jefferygenehk, since I haven't seen him in a long time. So, HELLO Jeff!...that's all, I'm done.

Toni said...

Hey TF - the same theory applies to all professions. Do we want all lawyers representing us? I don't think so although I believe there is definitely an overrepresentation of lawyers as Legislators. I think a mix of many different professions is good for all.

I have to admit I thought along your line when hearing about Tammy Duckworth. I had seen her interview a while back in a special on CSPAN (who knew that CSPAN did documentaries?). It was a good interview although I knew from the interview of both Tammy and her husband that they were diehard Democrats. What I found interesting about Tammy's entrance into politics was that she had to move to the district where she's running. The Democrats are strategically using her to run in a Republican held district. It's the same thing they did with that other Veteran in PA (I think). His name was Paul something. Once he wanted to run for Senator they dumped him.

JohnD said...

Sgt. Boggs,
You can put into a few words exactly what (I think) the majority of people in the USA feel.
We are so fortunate to have the military people doing their jobs so well.
Never for a minute think that we don't appreciate your sacrifices of time, family and even life.
We will always be in debt to you and all of the other soldiers.
I would rather trust someone like you or President Bush who isn't politically correct to be our leaders in congress or president. Imagine having the gall to call a country leader evil. I love the man! There wasn't much doubt President Bush really meant what he said. What better qualitity could a leader have than to speak what he's thinking.
Keep up the great work and avoid any purple hearts!

Gypsy said...

Well said t.f. I don't think any of us 'regular readers' feel you were disparaging anyone. Well, Kerry is fair game...he seemed to think running on his Military record (such as it is...and I'll leave it at that) was enough to get him elected. For heaven's sake he couldn't even salute properly. ~rolling my eyes~

I do feel the dems are definitely using Ms. Duckworth. They don't have a platform...or a plan.

Speaking of a lack of a plan...check out this analysis. Spot on if you ask me.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06092/678571-108.stm

MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Good post, Boggs! When I first began reading it, I thought "Man, we could use some journalists with military experience, also". Just hadn't read far enough. I hate it when I know more about what they're trying to say than they do & I've never been in the military. I read, though, & Buck has a great post on that journalist thing. Thank you for saying this so well.

T. F. Boggs said...

I think Vince Vaughn was supposed to be pretty despicable in that movie so the purple heart thing was right in line with his character. Funny movie though.
Jeff-I don’t think I am any more patriotic then anyone else and most decidedly less then some on the blogosphere. There are some really dedicated people out there. I don't believe service in the military necessarily denotes patriotism. I think civilians can definitely be patriots. Remember the whole parts of the body thing? If everyone was an eye or and arm then the body wouldn't function as a whole. If we were all in the military then who would be doing the regular everyday jobs?
I didn't know that Tammy moved to Illinois to run. That lowers her another level in my book.
I am going to do my best to avoid a purple hearts but imagine all the chicks I could pick up with one. Just kidding of course.

t.h. snure said...

Tim,
I like the blog, actually I have enjoyed all of them. I just wanted to chime in and add my voice to those hoping for no purple hearts (beside chicks kinda go ho-hum on the idea when they learn that you got hit in the big toe, backside or some other unglamorous spot).

Any way the chicks you want to catch aren't the kind who are wowed by such things. Take me for example, I managed almost 11 years of active duty with no purple hearts (either recieved or given) and look at the great woman who married me.

Wonders never cease.

Take care and let the other guy get his reward from allah or whoever is handing out purple hearts for the bad guys (could that be the Kerry/Kennedy/Clinton/Carter crowd???).

Todd

Anonymous said...

hey tim,
If you do get a purple heart can I borrow it for a couple days. thanks bud.
-Mark

T. F. Boggs said...

Mark your good looks and charming personality are enough to attract the most beautiful of women already. And if those don't work try offering them a ride on your motorcycle.

Office Pools said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Can I have a ride on your motorcycle Mark?

kathryn m said...

Hi Tim,

Was talking to a Air Force veteran on a recent airplane trip. He fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He said he saw some guys just back from Irag, both were wearing their purple hearts, they had about five in total between the two. My vet said he couldn't understand why there were so proud to wear their hearts... He said in his day a purple heart meant you were "the last to duck".

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