A TALE OF EIGHT AMERICANS - ANOTHER VERSION


[Circulating on the Internet and via Email is a piece by an honored writer 
and Marine veteran, Thomas D. Segel.  In its original form, Segel recently 
contrasted the statements and actions of four Americans who oppose our war 
in Afghanistan with the heroic actions of four Americans who died in 
Vietnam or World War II.  Here is another version - contrasting Segel's 
four American heroes with four politicians who are quick to rattle sabers 
but who managed to avoid military service while voting, as Congressmen, to 
send other young Americans into combat. The paragraphs in quotation marks 
are Segel's.]

 
Rep. David Dreier (R.-Cal.) was lucky. He could have volunteered for 
military service during the closing years of the Vietnam War, but he had 
the equivalent of a winning lotto ticket - a draft number that exempted him 
from military service during years in which, he says, "the war was winding 
down."  While he hunkered down in the Claremont College library, 10,000 
Americans died in a war that was "winding down."  In 1980, when seeking 
election to Congress, he denounced the incumbent for supporting draft 
registration.  Once elected, Dreier supported, and still supports, 
registration.  Today, after serving over 20 years in the House, he proudly 
stands before hundreds of constituents and demands that we strongly pursue 
the President's war on terror, a policy that has Americans fighting and 
preparing to fight in Afghanistan, the Philippines, North Korea, Iraq, 
Iran, Colombia, Yemen and anywhere else the President sees fit. But neither 
Dreier nor the President will have to go.

"In a land far way and at a time now long ago, another man stood up in 
front of hundreds of people.  With his platoon pinned down by withering 
fire, Corporal Charles Abrell rushed forward, sustaining multiple wounds. 
Reaching the enemy machine gun bunker on that Korean hill, Abrell projected 
his body through the doorway while holding a live grenade in his hands. The 
bunker was silenced."

Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) still believes that it was more important to 
America that he study economics in the mid 1960s than that he serve in 
Vietnam.  While other young Americans gave up their studies, jobs and 
personal lives here at home to fight a war that Gramm didn't think was as 
important as his academic career, he pursued his Ph. D. and wrapped himself 
not in the American flag but in the ivy tower of a Texas university, 
philosophizing about the free market and deregulation.  Afghanistan?  Of 
course he supports whatever the President wishes to do there - or anywhere 
else. As long as someone else does the fighting.

"It was September 4, 1967 when the Second Platoon of M Company was in 
danger of being overrun by an overwhelming enemy force.  Chaplain Vincent 
Capodanno ran from the security of the company command post without concern 
for his own safety.  He moved back and forth across the battlefield 
administering last rites to mortally wounded men.  The lieutenant, 
suffering multiple wounds himself, still refused treatment and directed 
corpsmen to attend their fallen comrades.  Finally, seeing a young corpsman 
fall wounded and still under the direct fire of an enemy machine-gun, the 
chaplain covered this young sailor with his own body to shield him from the 
bullets."

Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.) has never seen a day of military service in 
his life.  Elected to the New York Assembly in 1974, the year he left 
college, his political career has continued without interruption. Like so 
many of his jingoistic colleagues in Congress, he is ready and willing to 
send America's youth to fight in wars that he so easily avoided.  While 
50,000 young Americans died in Vietnam, Schumer's tour of duty was as a 
civilian at Harvard, both as an undergraduate and law student. Today his 
voice rings out, the leading advocate of bipartisan support for the 
President's war on terrorism, wherever it may lead.

"He arrived in Vietnam in July.  Three months later they brought him home. 
Corporal William T. Perkins Jr. was a combat photographer covering the 
action of C Company, lst Battalion, 1st Marines at a place called Quang 
Tri. There was a strong hostile attack and an enemy grenade landed near 
Perkins and several other Marines.  Realizing the danger, he shouted 
"`incoming grenade' and in a valiant act of heroism hurled himself across 
it, absorbing the impact of the explosion and saving their lives." 

Robert Byrd (D.-W.Va.) has been in politics since 1946, in Congress since 
1953 and in the Senate since 1958. Though he was only 24 when the U.S. 
entered World War II, he did not march off to combat like millions of 
others who were in their 20s.  Instead, he sat out that war as a civilian 
defense worker in east coast shipyards.  Byrd not only supported the war in 
Vietnam, but he is one of a handful now serving in the Senate who have the 
dubious distinction of voting for Lyndon Johnson's "Gulf of Tonkin" 
Resolution and for George W. Bush's "War on Terror," both blank checks. One 
led to the death of 50,000 Americans, some of whom have been eulogized here 
by Thomas Segel.  The other, whose opponents Segel condemns, may ultimately 
prove more costly in the loss of American lives.

"In March of 1945 Platoon Sergeant Joseph R. Julian and his men were 
stopped in their advance on Iwo Jima by heavy enemy fire.  Determined to 
force a break-through against a Japanese machine gun and mortar barrage, 
Julian fearlessly moved forward to execute a one man assault on a pillbox.  
With grenades and rifle fire he secured one objective and moved on to a 
second and a third enemy cave emplacement.  As they were silenced he 
launched an unassisted bazooka attack on still another fortification.... 
destroying it before he fell under the endless fire of enemy bullets."

"Four of these Americans are still living. 
 
"Four of these Americans are no longer with us."
 
Four of these Americans receive the uninformed praises and adulation of 
voters in election after election but have never known the sacrifice made 
by those among their constituents who have served the nation in war.
 
"Four of these Americans were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, 
protecting the right of the..." other four to pose as flag-waving patriots. 

"You can select your own heroes."