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***JOHN KERRY, SPEECH AGAINST VIETNAM WAR, "Vietname Vets Against the War*** (FLASHBACK 1971)
Modern History SourceBook ^ | Apr. 23, 1971 | John Kerry

Posted on 05/17/2003 12:54:32 AM PDT by FairOpinion

Modern History Sourcebook: Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement, 1971

Vietnam Veterans Against the War Statement by John Kerry, 1971 to the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations April 23, 1971

I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the Winter Soldier Investigation. The term Winter Soldier is a play on words of Thomas Paine's in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriots and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out....

In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in South Vietnam which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.

We found that not only was it a civil war, an effort by a people who had for years been seeking their liberation from any colonial influence whatsoever, but also we found that the Vietnamese whom we had enthusiastically molded after our own image were hard put to take up the fight against the threat we were supposedly saving them from.

We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese or American.

We found also that all too often American men were dying in those rice paddies for want of support from their allies. We saw first hand how monies from American taxes were used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. We saw that many people in this country had a one-sided idea of who was kept free by the flag, and blacks provided the highest percentage of casualties. We saw Vietnam ravaged equally by American bombs and search and destroy missions, as well as by Viet Cong terrorism - and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong.

We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.

We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals.

We watched the United States falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts. We listened while month after month we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. We fought using weapons against "oriental human beings." We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater. We watched while men charged up hills because a general said that hill has to be taken, and after losing one platoon or two platoons they marched away to leave the hill for reoccupation by the North Vietnamese. We watched pride allow the most unimportant battles to be blown into extravaganzas, because we couldn't lose, and we couldn't retreat, and because it didn't matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point, and so there were Hamburger Hills and Khe Sanhs and Hill 81s and Fire Base 6s, and so many others.

Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.

Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won't be, and these are his words, "the first President to lose a war."

We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?....We are here in Washington to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy. It is part and parcel of everything that we are trying as human beings to communicate to people in this country - the question of racism which is rampant in the military, and so many other questions such as the use of weapons; the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage at the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions; in the use of free fire zones, harassment interdiction fire, search and destroy missions, the bombings, the torture of prisoners, all accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam. That is what we are trying to say. It is part and parcel of everything.

An American Indian friend of mine who lives in the Indian Nation of Alcatraz put it to me very succinctly. He told me how as a boy on an Indian reservation he had watched television and he used to cheer the cowboys when they came in and shot the Indians, and then suddenly one day he stopped in Vietnam and he said, "my God, I am doing to these people the very same thing that was done to my people," and he stopped. And that is what we are trying to say, that we think this thing has to end.

We are here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We're here to ask where are McNamara, Rostow, Bundy, Gilpatrick, and so many others? Where are they now that we, the men they sent off to war, have returned? These are the commanders who have deserted their troops. And there is no more serious crime in the laws of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded. The marines say they never even leave their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They've left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country....

We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of us. But all that they have done and all that they can do by this denial is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission - to search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war, to pacify our own hearts, to conquer the hate and fear that have driven this country these last ten years and more. And more. And so when thirty years from now our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say "Vietnam" and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead where America finally turned and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 1971; 2004; britain; electionpresident; johnkerry; kerry; kerryrecord; vietnam
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To: lorrainer
I also read that he wore his medals and flight jacket when he had that operation a few months ago. Who's medals did he throw?
21 posted on 05/17/2003 5:37:26 AM PDT by motherof 3
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To: pawdoggie
Quote:

"As to whether Kerry's actions in Vietnam were the stuff that legends are made of, I doubt we'll ever know. As an Army Veteran who served in Vietnam, I can say that (with the notable exeception of Naval Aviators and SEALS) the Vietnam-era Navy was notorious for handing out "valor" awards for acts that would have been considered "doing your duty" in other branches of service.

Answer:

First of all, thank you for your honorable service.

The Navy did, and may possibly still have a system where the OFFICERS were basically handed out valor awards for seemingly doing their jobs. I've seen officers get awards for things their enlisted men did as well. Its not everywhere, but it was rampant.

I've also seen enlisted men pay for officers mistakes.

I also read part of another article that wondered why Kerry publicly gave a great amount of lip service to finding and returning any Vietnam veterans who may have still been POWs, and privately worked against it at every turn.

This came out about a year ago, and I know Vietnam has a policy of harassing other members of service who fought over there, but its noteworthy. It shows the other side of Kerry's Silver Star

___________________________________________________________

Associated Press | Saturday, June 1, 2002

Vietnam: Kerrey Committed War Crime

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam accused former Sen. Bob Kerrey of crimes during the Vietnam War, saying Friday that families of villagers killed by his Navy team experienced ``incomparable suffering and losses.''

It was the first time Vietnam has publicly accused Kerrey of criminal activity. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh made the accusation in reaction to a revised account of the raid in Kerrey's new memoir.

Thanhdid not specify what crimes Vietnam believed Kerrey had committed.

``Whatever Mr. Kerrey says cannot change the truth. Mr. Kerrey himself has admitted that he was ashamed of the crimes he committed,'' she said.

On Friday, Kerrey said he was disappointed by the government's comments,saying officials there have long blamed Americans for war-time atrocities.

``I pointed out then, and I'm pointing out now, both sides did a lot of damage in the Vietnam war,'' he said, adding the North Vietnamese used terror as one of their tools.

``You gotta get beyond it,'' he said at a Washington bookstore where he was doing a reading. ``I'm quite certain the majority of people in Vietnam want to go on with their lives.''

Kerrey currently serves as president at New York's New School University.

The incident, which Kerrey first acknowledged last year, put the former senator at the center of a national discussion about U.S. conduct during the war.

Kerrey said then that about 13 civilians were killed ``by mistake'' after his SEAL team was fired on and returned fire during the raid on Thanh Phong village on Feb. 25, 1969. He said he did not know of the civilian casualties until the shooting stopped.

But in his new memoir, ``When I Was a Young Man,'' Kerrey writes that he was aware that women and children had begun to gather as his squad searched the village for enemy Viet Cong.

Shortly thereafter, Kerrey says his men were fired upon from the direction of the women and children. The Americans fired back, and the villagers were hopelessly caught in the cross fire, he says.

Kerrey acknowledged the difference in his recollection of events in an author's note, saying it changed after he met with members of his squad following news reports.

After Kerrey acknowledged the incident last year, a member of his Navy SEAL unit and two Vietnamese women who said they witnessed the raid alleged the soldiers herded the women and children together and massacred them - a
charge that Kerrey and five other members of the Navy SEAL team deny.
Oneof the women, Pham Thi Lanh, said 20 unarmed villagers, mostly women and children, were killed.

On Friday, Thanh, the foreign ministry spokeswoman, said, ``Our countrymen in Thanh Phong, Ben Tre province, clearly told the truth about the massacre.''

She said families in the village had experienced ``incomparable suffering and losses'' because of the ``crimes committed by Kerrey's unit.''

She said Kerrey and other Americans who fought in Vietnam now ``should take specific and practical actions that contribute to the healing of the wounds of the war they caused in Vietnam.''

Thanh did not specify what crimes Kerrey had committed in the raid or what actions should be taken.

Kerrey, who later served as Nebraska governor and senator, and ran for president in 1992, received a Bronze Star medal for heroism in the Thanh Phong raid.

More than 58,000 Americans and an estimated 3 million Vietnamese perished
in the Vietnam War, which ended in a communist victory in 1975
22 posted on 05/17/2003 6:10:34 AM PDT by judicial meanz (Audaces Fortuna Juvat)
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To: FairOpinion
bookmarking in case Kerry is the nominee.
23 posted on 05/17/2003 9:17:44 AM PDT by votelife (FREE MIGUEL ESTRADA!)
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To: FairOpinion; All
NEVER FORGET


'Freeper Alert: Sen. KERRY / Communist Vietnamese Killing Off Christians in Central Highlands'

http://www.FreeRepublic.com/focus/news/675016/posts


NEVER FORGET
24 posted on 05/17/2003 10:29:56 AM PDT by ALOHA RONNIE (Vet-Battle of IA DRANG-1965 www.LZXRAY.com)
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To: FairOpinion
Great article--bookmarked !!

Apparently, it's John FONDA Kerry?
25 posted on 05/17/2003 12:52:02 PM PDT by lorrainer (FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. It comes bundled with the software.)
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To: judicial meanz
The article you posted in post #22 is about BOB Kerrey, another Dem. ex-Senator, NOT John Kerry.

Don't feel bad, others have made the same mistake, it's easy to do.

BUT there maybe something similar in JOHN Kerry's past, see the article I posted in post #14,
26 posted on 05/17/2003 1:06:57 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: FairOpinion
Thanks for the correction! Now it makes sense.
27 posted on 05/17/2003 1:42:04 PM PDT by judicial meanz (Audaces Fortuna Juvat)
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To: Free ThinkerNY
They're vehemently opposed to any war in defense of this country.>/i> Yep and we might as well line up and be ready to be slaughtered if this guy or any of the dems get the WH. Political misfits and deviants all of them.
28 posted on 05/17/2003 5:28:41 PM PDT by virgil
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To: virgil
Now you know why they want to take away our guns.
29 posted on 05/17/2003 10:06:48 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

To: Maxwell2003
And it's amazing with people like John F'ing Kerry turning traitor when they get home and hurt morale overseas when others were still there.
31 posted on 02/05/2004 10:03:58 PM PST by Dan from Michigan ("I donít want to get caught up in any of that Funky s**t goiní down in the city" - Steve Miller)
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To: FairOpinion
bttt
32 posted on 04/11/2004 8:00:19 PM PDT by stocksthatgoup (Tell the truth on the b9st0rds)
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To: FairOpinion

Bookmarked


33 posted on 08/16/2004 6:13:14 AM PDT by syriacus (Benedict Arnold REALLY was a war hero ----- before he was a traitor.)
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To: syriacus
MoreKerry 2004
Flimandflam

34 posted on 08/16/2004 6:20:26 AM PDT by syriacus (Benedict Arnold REALLY was a war hero ----- before he was a traitor.)
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To: syriacus

You folks intrigue me. How is questioning our governments policies 'betraying' our country? Reading Kerry's statements, his biggest mistake was not being specific enough. Did any of these activities actually occur in Vietnam? Were American soldiers allowed to get away with committing these so called 'war crimes'? I think that is the bigger picture. If he was going to address Congress about these alleged attrocities, he should've offered specific examples and cited reports on the incidents. Other than that, he seemed to make some interesting points. I think that questioning our governments motives on something as significant as war is the ultimate act of patriotism.


35 posted on 08/20/2004 11:49:37 AM PDT by aj2004 (Intriguing)
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To: aj2004
He lied about his service.

He lied about the behavior of men who served in Vietnam.

He lied about what would happen when we withdrew from Vietnam.

He met with enemy leaders in Paris and espoused their ideas when he came back to the US.

36 posted on 08/20/2004 12:01:29 PM PDT by syriacus (Benedict Arnold REALLY was a war hero --- --- before he was a traitor.)
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To: aj2004
If you want to know more detail...go here
37 posted on 08/20/2004 12:05:28 PM PDT by syriacus (Benedict Arnold REALLY was a war hero --- --- before he was a traitor.)
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To: Howlin
For the life of me, I just cannot get a handle on their "strategy" for winning in 2004.

Your question HIGHLIGHTS my opinion that this election is a WATERSHED event in our nations history. On one side we have a self-admitted WAR criminal whose actions when he returned from Vietnam were treasonous. He AIDED and ABETTED the enemy. When elected as Senator proceeded to vote against every Military pay raise and every weapons system, culminating with the horrendously hypocritical action of VOTING for a WAR and VOTING against giving our troops the guns, bullets, equipment and FOOD to fight that SAME WAR!!!

On the other side we have a Commander-in Chief, who is CONSISTANT and is doing everything possible to protect his country and to fullfill his oath of office.

Which will we as a nation ELECT?

The outcome will prove whether or not this country is LEFT or RIGHT and will have a lasting and profound effect on our nation's future.

38 posted on 08/20/2004 12:21:06 PM PDT by PISANO (NEVER FORGET 911 !!!!)
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To: PISANO

After these last two days, I'm convinced this is a fight to the death.


39 posted on 08/20/2004 2:23:39 PM PDT by Howlin (Kerry being called a war hero is "a colloquialism.")
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To: FairOpinion

My God,
This speach made me want to cry. The fact that these men did die for something. To be honored for what they did, instead of scorned. I give nothing but respect for the ultra loss of life we gave to the vietnam war, and as Kerry put it, it was a time the ultra power of the USA admited we made a mistake. this was a time that was not lost on meaningless thanks to people who spoke out. God bless my country in it's rights and wrongs. give me the strenth to see my rights and wrongs. give me the strength to admit when i have been wrong. give me the strength to see right. give me the strength to love. bless me god for i can only do what you accept.


40 posted on 11/15/2004 11:45:02 PM PST by robnation
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