first sent to Vietnam by Eisenhower. If you
don't believe me go check The Wall in Washington.
The first fatalities were in 1959.
service should probably not be a criteria for
leadership, however when you have an administration
that is unbelievably top-heavy with people who
never served, got multiple deferments, or safe
NG billets, they do lose moral authority to
send others into harms way.
You will find this interesting. It is offered
neither to dispute nor support your statement, just
to add to it. The music on the site is very nice,
Air Force Tech Sgt. Richard B Fitzgibbon,
Jr. murdered in Vietnam by a fellow airman on June
8, 1956, has been formally recognized by the Pentagon
as the first American to die in that war.
With this decision, the Defense Department set
Nov. 1, 1955 as the earliest qualifying date for
inclusion on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It says
this is the date the MAAG was officially established.
Eight other pre- 1961 casualties are already listed
on the memorial.
The first death of an American
serviceman in Vietnam occurred Sept. 26, 1945. OSS
Major A. Peter Dewey was killed in action by the
Communist Vietminh near Hanoi. Some 128 members
of a MAAG began supervising the use of U. S. equipment
in Vietnam on Sept. 17, 1950. And two U. S. fliers
contracted by the CIA were killed in action flying
a mission over Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The first
U. S. advisors sent to actually train Vietnamese
troops arrived Feb. 12, 1955. Capt. Harry Cramer,
Jr. was killed in a munitions handling accident
Oct. 21, 1957: His name had been the first listed.
There is another unique aspect to this story:
Marine Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III -- his
son -- was killed in action in Vietnam on Sept.
7, 1965. The Fitzgibbons are the only father-son
honorees on the Wall.
name is added to the Wall before Memorial Day 1999,
the total number of names memorialized will be 58,214.
I personally believe
that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to
make military service a requirement for both the
president and the vice president. It is truly very
hard, as you state, for those who have not worn
the uniform to make a moral argument for sending
others into battle. Like it or not, George W. Bush
did serve in the military. Those who dismiss service
by Guardsmen and Reservists as illegitimate members
of the armed forces are either ignorant or abhorrently
deceitful. Cheney got a college deferment. Donald
Rumsfeld was a Navy pilot during the Korean era.
John Ashcroft did not serve. Colin Powell obviously
served. Embarrassingly, many Republicans in leadership
position have not served in the U.S. Armed Forces
at all. Bill Clinton, of course, avoided the draft.
Al Gore served. Richard Gebhardt was in the Guard.
Howard Dean was served (by his parents servants
in NYC). So, the ledger is balanced pretty evenly
with served vs. served-not politicians.
That said, I do not believe that having served in
the military automatically makes one qualified for
high national office. It should be a necessary,
but not sufficient condition. Keep in mind that
Benedict Arnold was a decorated war hero, but ended
his life as “a man without a country” for his act
Let us hope that many of the
people currently serving will decide to make runs
for offices upon leaving the military.