By Harold W. Hopp, Mason City
On Thursday, Dec. 11, I was given the great personal honor to introduce Max Cleland, whom I consider a great American hero, who had lost both legs and his right arm in 1968 in the Vietnam War.
Cleland was speaking to supporters of John Kerry for the presidency of the United States.
As a Kerry supporter, I was anxious to learn why Cleland was campaigning for him. His reasons were essentially the same as mine. Kerry is an intelligent and honest person; extremely knowledgeable of foreign affairs, defense and economic matters; one who has worked for veterans and their welfare; and one who can restore trust and decency in our government's dealings with the community of nations.
Cleland is a person who was appointed the administrator of the Veterans Administration by President Carter in 1975, the youngest person ever to hold the post, and while there he instituted a program which for the first time offered psychological counseling for combat veterans.
In 1996 he was elected U.S. senator from Georgia, and when he did not support the Bush administration in all the facets of the Homeland Security Act he was called "unpatriotic." ...
One daunting question remains for me. If a decorated military hero who will spend the rest of his life permanently affected by the terrible wounds he suffered in service to his country is "unpatriotic," then what word would apply to those in the Bush administration who used their skills, their positions and their influence to avoid wartime service for their country? I can think of an appropriate word, but it would be unsuitable for inclusion in a family newspaper.