As we all know there is an important election coming up on Nov. 3. As a veteran of the Vietnam War who fought and bled for this country, I am dismayed that anyone can support a president who brags how he avoided this war with a medical deferment, i.e. undocumented bone spurs, and denounces true heroes of this conflict. Criticizing John McCain, who spent years in an enemy prison camp, he was quoted as saying he likes people who didn’t get captured.

I was in Vietnam in 1968 when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a white supremacist much like the folks our current president seems to so much admire and encourage. When I first heard this terrible news, I was in the barracks with one other white soldier and one black soldier. On hearing the news, the other white soldier commented that his death was a good thing since Martin Luther King was a “troublemaker.” As an ardent admirer of Dr. King, I could not help but respond with the comment that I thought Dr. King was the greatest black American that our country had yet seen. The black soldier keep quiet, but I could not help but notice the tears in his eyes.

For hours afterward I was shaking my head thinking about how Lincoln, Gandhi, and Jesus were killed because they were “troublemakers.” In addition, my own doubts about the war I was an active participant in only increased from that day forward. Why were we fighting to free the South Vietnamese from the evils of Communism when our own black Americans had yet to gain the full measure of their freedom?

If you are one who flies the American flag in support of our current president, and do not fly it on Martin Luther King Day, don’t tell me you are a patriot. If you defiantly do not wear a mask when you shop at our local grocery store, don’t tell me you are a patriot. If you think Social Security, Medicare, the Post Office, the Affordable Care Act or a Single Payer Health-Care System are one step away from an authoritarian communist/socialist state I submit that you are missing some cards from your deck. If you seriously think Trump is the best thing for black people since Lincoln, you are not the kind of Republican many of us Americans used to respectfully disagree with.

Christopher Rush, Tehachapi

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