[Vision2020] Rev. Jeremiah Wright & Patriotism
chasuk at gmail.com
Thu Apr 3 20:28:41 PDT 2008
Factor military duty into criticism
By Lawrence Korb
April 3, 2008
By Lawrence Korb
and Ian Moss
In 1961, a young African-American man, after hearing President John F.
Kennedy's challenge to, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but
what you can do for your country," gave up his student deferment, left
college in Virginia and voluntarily joined the Marines.
In 1963, this man, having completed his two years of service in the
Marines, volunteered again to become a Navy corpsman. (They provide
medical assistance to the Marines as well as to Navy personnel.)
The man did so well in corpsman school that he was the valedictorian
and became a cardiopulmonary technician. Not surprisingly, he was
assigned to the Navy's premier medical facility, Bethesda Naval
Hospital, as a member of the commander in chief's medical team, and
helped care for President Lyndon B. Johnson after his 1966 surgery.
For his service on the team, which he left in 1967, the White House
awarded him three letters of commendation.
What is even more remarkable is that this man entered the Marines and
Navy not many years after the two branches began to become integrated.
While this young man was serving six years on active duty, Vice
President Dick Cheney, who was born the same year as the
Marine/sailor, received five deferments, four for being an
undergraduate and graduate student and one for being a prospective
father. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, both five years
younger than the African-American youth, used their student deferments
to stay in college until 1968. Both then avoided going on active duty
through family connections.
Who is the real patriot? The young man who interrupted his studies to
serve his country for six years or our three political leaders who
beat the system? Are the patriots the people who actually sacrifice
something or those who merely talk about their love of the country?
After leaving the service of his country, the young African-American
finished his final year of college, entered the seminary, was ordained
as a minister, and eventually became pastor of a large church in one
of America's biggest cities.
This man is Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the retiring pastor of Trinity
United Church of Christ, who has been in the news for comments he made
over the last three decades.
Since these comments became public we have heard criticisms,
condemnations, denouncements and rejections of his comments and him.
We've seen on television, in a seemingly endless loop, sound bites of
a select few of Rev. Wright's many sermons.
Some of the Wright's comments are inexcusable and inappropriate and
should be condemned, but in calling him "unpatriotic," let us not
forget that this is a man who gave up six of the most productive years
of his life to serve his country.
How many of Wright's detractors, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to
name but a few, volunteered for service, and did so under the often
tumultuous circumstances of a newly integrated armed forces and a
society in the midst of a civil rights struggle? Not many.
While words do count, so do actions.
Let us not forget that, for whatever Rev. Wright may have said over
the last 30 years, he has demonstrated his patriotism.
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