Web Exclusives: LetterBox

Letter from an alumnus about A veteran’s perspective

Date Posted: December 27, 2004

Today being Veteran’s Day, I feel compelled to respond to Walter Morse ’42’s letter (Sept. 15) that said, “Those who wish to raise ‘fundamental questions about our policies and values’ and refuse to serve our country in time of war should suffer the consequences.”

Many of those raising their voices today to question the unprovoked invasion and occupation of an oil-rich nation are those of us who bravely served, often (like me) as part of a long family history of military service. My father was a World War II infantry officer in the famed 10th Mountain Division, my younger brother is fighting in Afghanistan as an enlisted man, my nephew is an Air Force officer, my oldest brother was an Air Force officer, my older brother was an Army officer, and I was an Army Armor officer myself (tank platoon leader).

However, if Mr. Morse is searching for cowards who “refused to serve our country in time of war,” he doesn’t have to look farther than the Republican leadership of this country. It speaks volumes that, like any American who served on active duty, I have more military experience than the president, vice president, speaker of the house, senate majority leader, house majority leader, national security adviser, Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove, Sen. Trent Lott, New York City Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Giuliani, Gov. Pataki, Gov. Jeb Bush, and Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley combined!

When the chips were down, all these leaders “had other priorities than military service," in Dick Cheney’s words, although they have since shown themselves more than willing to sacrifice the best of our nation's youth by invading the nation with the world’s second-largest oil reserves. None of these Republicans served at all except Bush, who didn’t even bother to show up for some 13 months of the cushy stateside Guard slot he got with the help of his daddy.

Mr. Morse was right in saying, “When our country calls you to duty and you fail to respond, someone has to go in your place,” so Bush and the rest should be ashamed to lay wreaths every Veteran’s Day to honor their betters, those who served and died in their place. More important, the current Republican leadership, including the president, loves war as only those who have never fought themselves can.

David L. Harten ’84
Avenel, N.J.

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