Letter to the Editor: Not a soldier's story


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

President Trump famously avoided service in the long, long Vietnam War. Is it a concern for votes? Not really.

For one thing, the matter is famous only because he, Trump, ascended all the way to the Oval Office. As a private citizen, which Donald Trump was for the first 70 years of his life, no one knew, or much cared either, that he never went off to war.

Thousands of young men answered the call and went off to war, but thousands didn't go, too.

Joe Scarborough, the one-time congressman turned TV talk show moderator, likes to mention that on the day Donald Trump graduated from college, 40 young American “G.I.s” died in Vietnam.

Is this revelation shocking?

Not really, because Trump graduated in the year 1968. That's the year of the Tet Offensive, which was also the year of some of the bloodiest fighting of the entire war.

American causalities spiked in 1968. People who hadn't given the war much thought suddenly learned about Vietnam.

Donald Trump was 22. He was draft-eligible but he had gone to university and was thereby eligible for a student deferment.

He kept his grades up, meaning he didn't flunk out. A lot of young college men did flunk out on the 1960s, college being tougher years ago. Most of them ended up going off to war.

It was all very legal and above board. The implementation of the draft was unwieldy, perhaps that's why it ended. If Donald Trump at 22 had gone to war, it wouldn't have changed anything. He would have been a lowly lieutenant mostly likely. As such, he would have been in charge of a squadron of men. The war's outcome wouldn't have been altered. Who ever heard of a lieutenant winning a war? That's crazy.

Certainly, serving in war would've changed Donald Trump in ways both large and small.

That means something of course, but now, 50 years removed from the fighting, it matters little in the whole scheme of things.

That's the gist of it, really

War-time service changes the individual who performs it.

Bob Dole, the retired senator from Kansas, served 40 years in the elected service in Washington, D.C. He ran for president.

Yet when Dole penned his own autobiography, he titled his book, “A Soldier's Story.”

Lt. Bob Dole had been grievously wounded during World War II. War-time service changed his life forever.

Robert Peele

Rocky Mount