Recently President Trump has continued to take shots at a true American hero who recently died of brain cancer. I find this especially distasteful for someone who managed to avoid the draft altogether.
Like many other young men of that era I got my student deferment until I graduated from law school. I remember being called to the camp office while I was in my bunk bed one night to take a call . I was elated to learn that it was to tell me that I had passed the DC Bar examination. However, there was no time to celebrate. I had to complete my basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
When I started my job working as a lawyer in the office of Senator Talmadge, I was still obligated to serve my 6 year term as a member of the DC National Guard. Our government found it necessary to call up a large number of national guardsmen to serve in Vietnam. I was spared this fate because the race riots that came after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.
My National Guard unit was call to active duty to protect the city from the rioting and burning that went on for some months.
I have always felt fortunate and a little guilty that I never had to fight in Vietnam. Over 58,000 names are on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in our nation’s capital, which lists the names of our soldiers who died from wounds in Vietnam. These feelings have been reinforced by such movies as the 2002 Mel Gibson movie “We Were Soldiers Once”.
Later, I got to know Max Cleland who served one term as a US Senator from Georgia. He lost both legs and one arm as a second lieutenant in the infantry in Vietnam.
When Senator McCain was the Republican nominee for President in 2012, I volunteered for his campaign. I knew he did not have a good record on agricultural issues. Not only did I make the maximum personal contribution, I was a member of his Agriuculture Advisory Committee.
Unfortunately, McCain did not care for Agriuculture issues and managed to have farmers boo him when we had arranged to have him speak to a farm group in Texas. That was the end of his Agriuculture Advisory Committee.
While McCain lost in the general election, I do not regret trying to help him. Some issues are more important than short term personal interests.
Michael R. McLeod