Many of the thousands of veterans and our supporters who attended the Gathering of Eagles rally and vigil in Washington, DC yesterday, March 17, were out on the sidewalks, at The Wall or countering the pro-terrorist group on Henry Bacon Drive during the formal program.
I have been asked to post the speech I gave for those who could not be there to hear it. Without further ado, I have now done so.
Gathering of Eagles
Veterans! Our first General Order is "to take charge of this post and all government property in view."
We have seized the high ground, physically and morally, and from this vantage point I see tens of thousands of veterans and our supporters carrying out the requirements of our first General Order.
We have gathered here today for many reasons: foremost among these are to protect our Memorials from pro-terrorist anarchists and vandals; and to stand in support of our active duty troops worldwide.
We also are gathered today with a singularity of purpose, and a commonality of goals - to build a bridge from the past to the future - to reverse four decades of lies and misrepresentations about America's military and its veterans, and to set the record straight about our service.
Those of us who served in Vietnam are all too familiar with the phrase, "The only war the American military ever lost." That statement, a convenient sound bite for the evening news, is an outright lie that serves as a cover story for those who helped bring about the tragic events in Southeast Asia after the fall of Saigon.
The Vietnam Memorial we are protecting today reflects the loss of more than 58,000 Americans who died while fighting for our freedoms. But what America rarely hears is that the communists in North Vietnam lost 1.4 million regular troops in that war, more than double the number of their standing army in 1965, and that the Viet Cong were completely wiped out as a military force after the Tet Offensives of 1968 and 1969.
In 1969 communist military leaders, reeling from the pounding we were giving them on the battlefield, pleaded with their political bosses to initiate surrender talks. But political missteps in America, unintentional though they may have been, squandered that opportunity and led to three more years of war - for us.
Despite those missteps, the Vietnamization program progressed on schedule and in 1972, when most American troops had left Vietnam, the north launched a full-scale invasion of the south, using 250,000 troops backed by armor and artillery. But the southern troops, aided by American air power, stood their ground. When it was over, more than half the communist invasion force had been annihilated.
To reward this effort to preserve their freedom the US Congress passed the Case-Church resolution ceasing all support for South Vietnam, and later forced the southern government to accept the unenforceable Paris Peace Accords. This was not an unintentional misstep, this was intentional treachery.
Two years later the communists invaded again, and the US government stood by idly as the south fell. When the communists launched a pogrom of butchery and slaughter resulting in the deaths of some four million inhabitants of Southeast Asia, the American media and Congress, the very people responsible for that debacle, blamed it on the Vietnam Veterans to cover their own duplicity.
These are not the musings of an aging warrior trying to create a more palatable past. These are documented historic facts!
Now we are again engaged in a difficult war against a formidable enemy. And again, members of our own Congress are proving to be our enemies' best allies. And many of the people responsible for the fall of Southeast Asia are still here, attempting once again to engineer another travesty in the Middle East.
As our troops win battle after battle, their successes are repeatedly undermined by some in our own government and the media. But this time there is a difference.
We who have suffered the falsehoods, lies and misrepresentations spread by the people who helped create the butchery of millions of Southeast Asians will not allow a similar tragedy to happen to this generation.
We who have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, carrying the terrible burden of an unjust blame for the travesty caused by members of our own government, are here today to say this will not happen. We are here to tell the meddlers in Congress, and their anarchist supporters, Never Again!
Never again will the hard-won victories of America's military be nullified by incompetence and treachery in Congress.
Never again will the successes of America's veterans be sullied and discounted by treachery and treason in our government.
Today's gathering represents the end of our trek in the wilderness. Today we have emerged from the darkness, and today we are serving notice on America that Congress must never again be allowed to use short-term political gain as an excuse to undermine our troops and our country.
We have the will, we have the knowledge and we have the fortitude to succeed in this new mission. And we need only to look around us today to realize that we have the manpower. Because above all, this gathering shows that today, America's veterans have finally returned home.
Sunday, March 18, 2007