True veterans deserve honor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The news came last month of a group of citizens in Nelson, Canada, proposing to host a celebration in honor of thousands of Americans who were known draft dodgers that fled to their country during the Vietnam War. They are even considering erecting a monument &uot;Our Way Home&uot; to honor them.

Our country barely honors the men and women who died in that war or any other war, and now another country is honoring (hardly the appropriate word) the people who intentionally fled our country in our time of need to intentionally dodge the draft.

One can argue that it was their right. Of course, this is America and we have a plethora of freedoms and &uot;rights.&uot;

But we should be busy at work honoring the 58,245 American soldiers whose names are listed on the Vietnam Wall who didn’t dodge the draft or flee to Canada – the 39,940 lives who were casualties of the Korean War and the thousands who lost their lives in World War I and World War II.

Our time should be consumed in honoring those

veterans who have defended our great country, regardless of which war or branch of service – not those who did not.

It doesn’t bother me as much that the draft dodgers fled to Canada as it does that they returned to America. They came back to a country to enjoy the freedoms that thousands died to protect.

They came back to enjoy something they didn’t even consider important enough to fight for, defend or protect – our country, the freedoms it holds dear and the opportunities it presents daily.

When the draft dodgers returned to America, they ate from the foods of freedom that our soldiers provided – as we all do. American veterans planted, watered, harvested, cleaned, cooked and prepared the foods of freedom and sat them on the table.

Then the draft dodgers came home without helping grow or prepare the food in any way and sat down at the table to eat it. Then, when their bellies were full, they left the dishes unwashed, the floors upswept, took the leftovers home and never even said thank you.

Canadians can honor American draft dodgers all they want, but as for our country, I hope we never see that day. To honor men who abandoned their country would be the equivalency of honoring mothers and fathers who have abandoned their children.

It happens, and indeed it is their legal &uot;right,&uot; but it is nothing to honor. Let’s face it, many things are legal that are not ethical or moral.

God bless all the veterans of this great country for their valor, loyalty, courage, bravery and the honor they have earned and so rightfully deserve. They are heroes and saints and the very fiber of this great country’s strength, pride and perseverance that has lasted for decades and will keep America great, free and safe.

So when you sit down to eat a meal this Veterans Day, thank God for all the United States veterans who gave us our many foods of freedom. Without them, there might not be any &uot;food&uot; on the table.

Beth Chapman serves as state auditor for Alabama. She lives with her family in north Shelby County