By guest blogger Ernest M. Kennedy III [See Biography]
[November 03, 2014] Once upon a time I was a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. As a 19 year old in South Vietnam, I spent time in the city of Huế in February 1967 as part of the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced); witnessing great leadership at the squad level where you see the enemy eyeball to eyeball. Maybe you never heard of the little skirmish we had there in Huế – often called the Battle of Huế. But I’m not writing to tell you heroic stories of the battle or of the Communists who massacred civilians; those are for my friends only. What I want to tell you about is my thoughts on a class of Americans who deserted their countrymen … what my friends and I now call the “lingering toadeaters.”
For the uneducated and uninitiated, lingering toadeaters are those who evaded the U.S. military draft for the Vietnam War and are now senior leaders in Congress and in business. It’s a special brand that tells the knowledgeable listener that he knows of the moral corruption that walks the halls of our most respected institutions and despite them making contributions to America, have a tainted past. A past that should never be forgotten.
My point is not to raise their behavior as something to be held up to others in contempt but to raise it so that they are personally reminded that there are many of us who do remember. We have started a private discussions among ourselves, Vietnam vets, but anyone can join us – it is open to all. Our task is simple; to remind those who chose to long ago ran from military service that their past is something of which others see as shameful.
“Freedom is not free.” That fundamental truth of this statement is the basis of our movement. There have been many who rejected their homeland and countrymen, choosing instead to run from their obligations as a citizen and abandon their duty while taking from it the inherent rights of all citizens. Many of these lingering toadeaters are running today for election to some of our most prestigious political positions in the United States. If they once ran from their obligations, what is keeping them from doing it again when called upon to do something requiring moral courage?
U.S. President Jimmy Carter officially pardoned all “draft dodgers” in January 1977. Legally, the draft dodgers – the lingering toadeaters – are no longer in violation of U.S. law. This does not mean that they are free of shame. Many of those half a million men were praised recently by Communists for their acts when they fled. At the same time, Vietnam vets were disparaged by many … and for a long time it has been a fad among the Hollywood types to do just that.
Tomorrow, on Election Day, I will be calling each of them. I will tell them my name, Ernest M. Kennedy III, and that I stand for what’s good and right in America and that they stand for something much much less.
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Biography: Ernest M. Kennedy III joined the U.S. Marine Corps on May 22, 1966 after graduating from high school in San Diego, California. Deployed to South Vietnam as part of the 1st Marine Division in January 1967. Earned a Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for valor in combat against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam during the Battle of Huế. After an honorable discharge married high school sweetheart Victoria Elizabeth and had five children and now have eight grandchildren. Graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Civil Engineering and started a small firm working construction projects throughout the west coast. Sold the business and now tinkers in his retirement as a part-time consultant for whoever can afford him.