When it comes to going to war, whether past or present, no person truly wants to go. We honor and respect every man and woman who has sacrificed his or her lives and given time in any capacity to defend our country. However, we generally hold those servicemen and women who have put their lives on the line of fire in higher esteem than those who have never experienced the horror of military combat.
Simply put, when comparing both presidential candidates, Sen. John Kerry risked his life on the battlefield in Vietnam, while many others chose legitimate educational deferments or stateside military service in the National Guard, like President George W. Bush. Disregarding the mudslinging about the accuracy of their service records from both the Republicans and Democrats, serving in Vietnam, under fire, in my mind, shows more courage than someone who chose to stay in the United States.
President Bush took the safer path through his honorable service in the National Guard. Some, like Kerry, despite his privileged upbringing after graduating from Yale, volunteered for the battlefield.
When you have been on the battlefield and seen the face of the enemy, you know that war is a business of great risks. Having seen war, Kerry has said that he would have been more reluctant to lead our country into war than in the manner that it was done. Not having the firsthand experience of war himself, President Bush may have jumped faster on the opportunity to enter war with Iraq.
Someone who has placed a foot on a battlefield and seen the ravages of war may make decisions with a more cautious mind. Most agree that losing one’s life for one’s country is the ultimate sacrifice. Deciding whether or not to send your citizens into battle is an extremely difficult decision for any president. Whether Kerry deserved his medals or not, he deserves the respect for having volunteered to serve in Vietnam and stand up for his beliefs at the war’s end.
Sam Rega can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.