A Question of Dishonor?

President Bush's unsubstantiated claims to proper military service has been festering in my heart and mind since his interview on "Meet The Press" with Tim Russert. I don't usually share my political commentary with people outside my immediate family because I have always felt that people's political views are like their religious beliefs; very personal and very resolute. However, I recently felt an overwhelming need to share with everyone my views about Pres. Bush's assertion of having served "honorably" in the Guard.

Those who know me well understand that my beliefs have moved from generally conservative to radically liberal. Because of this, my impressions are obviously read as politically affiliated propaganda. This issue, in my opinion, transcends associations with any particular political party.

Furthermore, throughout the whole tumultuous process of becoming politically aware, I've always remained proud of my military service. No matter what the debate may be against the military and its actions, my loyalty has always been to the Army and its soldiers. It's a relationship that I myself do not fully understand, but I know its real and its true. That's why this issue has deep meaning for me. Not because I'm a maniacal Democrat, but because I'm a proud veteran who earned my right to honor and respect in Iraq during Desert Storm/Shield.

George Bush was a child of privilege. We all know that. He was given opportunities that you and I will never have. So it's immaterial to me whether he owned the Texas Rangers or managed an oil exploration company because ultimately, its irrelevant to my experiences. I can feel neither shame, pity, nor pride for his accomplishments because they are uniquely his, and unmistakably foreign to me.

Now his military service is a different matter. He claims honorable service in an institution that relies on the hard work and selfless dedication of its troops. It is a fraternity of sailors, soldiers, and airmen and women who at any given moment are required to prove their loyalty and love for their country. Men and women have died while serving our nation. Indeed, men and women are dying as we speak in Iraq and Afghanistan in defense of our ideals. Ironically, President Bush, the same man who uses the honor and reputation of the military to elevate his own, has sent these soldiers to defend a concept that he himself had little regard for.

This is not an issue of age or maturity. You don't somehow grow out of this lack of regard for duty. This is a personality flaw that follows a person through life. I served my time, as did my father and many others like him. Privilege was never an issue nor an excuse; service and duty were. We earned the right to call ourselves veterans. President Bush has not earned that right if the allegations against him are true, and he should be censored and harshly admonished for pilfering an honor which is not his.

During this debate I've been reminded of Admiral Boorda, who displayed a combat "V" designation that he had not officially earned. This "V" would have been affixed to an existing medal that he presumably would have been awarded. To others this may have seemed a minor infraction. But the Admiral understood the severity of his offense. When it became public that he had borrowed the honor imbued in that small "V", he committed suicide to deal with his shame. Assuming that President Bush is guilty of these allegations (allegations that I believe have legitimate merit and substance), it doesn't seem that he has exhibited that same shame. This, I believe, comes as a result of his unfamiliarity with military honor. It also points to the character flaw that I spoke of earlier.

Does this man really deserve our vote? Please inform yourself of this very important issue and decide for yourself. It's a question of honor, and its our duty to uphold the memory of those who willingly served and died for their country.