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Can we get this straight? You've got one guy, Navy, who won a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts after volunteering to go to Vietnam and further volunteering for one of the most dangerous assignments they had over there. Then you've got another guy who might have been awarded a Good Conduct Medal during the same period for his highly questionable service in the Texas and Alabama National Guard while there was a war going on someplace else.

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And we question the patriotism of the hero? While hailing the goldbricker as a tough guy? Have we gone completely through the looking glass?

It's been written that a coward in war becomes a bully in peace. President George W. Bush is most certainly a coward who then became a bully. The same could be said for Vice President Dick Cheney, who received five deferments from the Vietnam draft because of his "other priorities."

Former President Bill Clinton never made any bones about his objections to the Vietnam War -- or war in general -- and he paid the price for it throughout his two terms. The sobriquet "draft dodger" haunted him for eight years, despite the fact he never committed American ground forces to do the work he had qualms about doing himself.

Bush, who went to extraordinary lengths to avoid Vietnam service -- his records show he checked "no" after the question about being interested in overseas duty, refused to take a physical and was subsequently grounded as a fighter pilot, and that six months of his "tour" remain completely unaccounted for -- now dresses up in military garb routinely.

The blood of nearly 1,000 brave American soldiers killed in his needless Iraqi war now soaks his hands.

By his own admission, John Kerry has some blood on his hands too. The blood of a number of Vietnamese who were trying to kill him and his comrades all those years ago.

He'll have to live with that for the rest of his life.

Hopefully, if their professed theology is correct, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest will live with their sins for all eternity.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Aug. 31 2004