McCloskey, former U.S. Congressman, California (R), Korean war veteran,
U.S. Marines. Joining the Veterans March for Kerry on Sunday, McCloskey
noted that thirty-three years ago he had been on another march,
walking with John Kerry to the National Cemetery at Arlington as
part of a Vietnam veterans protest of that war.
Addressing the veterans, military families and their supporters
at the October 17th march in Sacramento, McCloskey said:"I
want to say how proud I am to have walked with you on this day.
I've been privileged to walk today with a man who fought at Guadalcanal
in WWII. I walked with one of the pilots from the Tuskegee Airmen,
and I walked with a black man who had the guts to join the Marines
in 1941 at a time when all his NCO's were white men from Texas or
In 1967, McCloskey was elected to Congress and visited Vietnam
several times, returning with grave doubts about the war.
"In 1971, I testified before the Fulbright Committee that
what I'd seen in Vietnam on my three trips there constituted war
crimes. Not the individual acts of cruelty, but the missions of
search and destroy, free fire zones, and burning down villages that
gave support to the Viet Cong. We defined those actions as war crimes
in Nuremberg in 1948, after WWII. Then, seven years after voting
to give President Johnson the authority to go to war in Vietnam,
after Tet, after the Pentagon Papers, the American people began
to believe that the war was wrong and that we had been misled, just
as we have been misled into the war with Iraq."
Noting that none of the architects of either the Vietnam war or
the war in Iraq had served in the military, McCloskey said: "I've
served under nine presidents and I've observed one thing:-- if a
man was shot at when he was young (ex: JFK and G. Bush, Sr.in WWII),
those men have been reluctant to take us into a war that is unnecessary.
But those who dodged combat (and nobody joined the National Guard
in 1968 except to dodge combat)--those who somehow missed their
share in the combat action of their youth-- have been quick to want
to go to war as President to prove their manhood."
"I got elected to Congress in 1967 and I went to Vietnam because
I wanted to see what my friends were doing there. I came back to
the U.S. after my third visit in 1971, and I found John Kerry--
silver star, bronze star, three purple hearts-- organizing vets
to speak against the war, just as you men have walked today to demonstrate
against the war, in a misty rain,. because this war is wrong."
"We are an occupying power in Iraq. We are destroying our
military establishment in trying to occupy and build a new nation.
If we were young Iraqis, do you think we would welcome a government
put in power. by the shock and awe firepower of the U.S.?"
"In 1971, it was deemed unpatriotic to be against the Vietnam
war, but after seven years of conflict, the American people rose
up to stop it. For this war, it shouldn't take us that long! We
have an election on November 2nd where we have the chance to elect
a true war hero, a man of strong and resolute leadership!"
In closing, McCloskey urged the crowd to go to the "battleground"
states to make sure that everyone who is for Kerry gets to the polls.
"I learned a very simple lesson when I was opposing the Vietnam
war-- it's not the people who are for you who make the difference,
it's the people who actually vote!"