This week, my father, a Vietnam veteran who earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service, travels to Washington State for a reunion of his army unit.
I can't imagine such an event is easy - especially now, given the intense national focus on my father and his fellow veterans.
Last night, he told me that he wore a Vietnam hat while on his way Northwest. He received many thank yous and nods of acknowledgement. He also received a free upgrade from the rental car agency when the kid at the counter asked my Dad what he thought of the Swift Boat vets flack. He explained that regardless of all the Reep hoopla, to get on a swift boat, you had to volunteer. Kerry could've easily gotten a cushy job on a ship safely bobbing in the ocean somewhere. But he didn't. The rental car kid asked my Dad for whom he'd be voting. My Dad said Kerry. The kid said "right answer" and upgraded him to an Envoy.
(Yeah, and I took a moment to ponder the layers of the Envoy upgrade. Besides the meaning of the word, I poked fun at my Dad for accepting a big SUV for just him and my mother - a big, oil-economy-encouraging vehicle that's part of the problem. He said yeah, he knew, but it did drive great. Has that new SUV smell. And he got it for 6 days for $200.)
Update: Per some reader inquiries - on the question of medals, my Dad says while they're subjective, of course, they weren't given out like candy. On the question of Kerry's post-war activities, no, other vets weren't loving it - but then again, no one really liked the war either.