A Flag Day Message
by Ed Reiman

A pledge of allegiance for today --
"I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and to the
Republic for which it stands: One nation, indivisible, with Liberty and
Justice for all."

Ladies and gentlemen, I come here today to speak as a father and veteran.
I would not presume to speak for all veterans... I'm just one man who served
in our most tragic conflict. I did nothing remarkable in Vietnam; I did my
job and came home to build a life and be a good citizen.

I am also speaking as the father of two wonderful young people -- a son who
will graduate from college next month, and a daughter who will graduate from
college a year from May. Today I speak for them and millions of young people
who will soon take the reins of our nation. They will either inherit a country that
belongs to them, or one that belongs to the few who have recently grabbed power
through the Supreme Court, a clearly flawed electoral process, and the damnedest
smoke-and-mirror job in the history of American politics.

And I am here to tell Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, George
Shultz, James Baker and the rest of the Committee running this country -- and
the corporations that own them (like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, and others) --
We know who you are, we know what you've done and how you did it,
and -- if we have our way -- this is your last hurrah!

And I am here today to tell Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings -- on
the souls of Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Chet Huntley, and other past giants
of the press -- that they must do a better job. For our country's sake, they must.
They can help us take our country back, or they can let the tyrants will out.

Simply stated: I want our country back.
I want it back for us and for our kids.

I want back the assurance that my vote will be counted, and that my voice is
heard between elections. Once-upon-a time my voice was heard, and I did
believe that my vote would be counted. Not now.

Why do I feel so strongly?
In 1966, I raised my right hand and swore, in part, to ". . .protect and defend the
Constitution of the United States. . .". I went to Vietnam to uphold that oath in 1967.
Many of you were caught up in the same set of circumstances. I'm glad we made it
through, and I still grieve for those who didn't. It turns out we were being misled by
incompetent and -- in some cases -- arguably criminal public figures, who had anything
but this country's best interests in mind -- and they sure as hell didn't care about us
or the people of Southeast Asia.

The press and a misinformed electorate played along for too many years.
From about 1960 through 1968 our government and a gullible, compliant press
"sold" us on the idea of our involvement in Vietnam. After "Tet" of 1968, the
mainstream press finally began asking serious questions, and "grown-ups"
began to join the young in protesting the war. A confused and bewildered
nation elected Dick Nixon on his lie about a "secret plan" to end the war,
and the press danced along with the lie. But the war dragged on another four
bloody, useless years.

Finally an irate public -- aided by a free press -- forced an end to the war.
During those bright and shining months the press did its job and "We The People"
-- through an independent Congress -- were heard. We can make it happen again.

Now we jump ahead thirty plus years.

George W. did not run for President, nor was he elected. Rather, the Bush
name was successfully packaged and "marketed." Hundreds of millions of
dollars -- the bulk of which came from a mere handful of rich individuals, a
couple hundred corporations, and a small group of ideological organizations
-- sold us a product called "Bush." It could just as well have been a new brand
of dog food. The corporate media simply carried commercials for the sham.

And a credulous, compliant press helped in the marketing of this unqualified
ne're-do-well to an exhausted and battered American electorate. Now that he's
been appointed President, these same journalists continue to validate him by
reporting "President Bush said today (you fill in the blanks)."

Horse feathers.

G.W. hasn't said anything coherent - that was not written for him - from the
moment he was selected to run by the millionaires' club that got him appointed.
Every time he's left the script, he's made a fool of himself and our country.
Right now this country is being run by a detached, un-elected committee whose
policies are being delivered by a mouthpiece from Texas. The more
appointments they make, the more detached they get from us, and the more
profound the damage they do. And heed this: their second and third-layer
appointees are more dangerous than themselves.

Again we are being sold a "cold war," and again we are being led by
"cold-warriors." Some are sworn appointees and some are just "advisors." Some
are merely right-wing radio hosts. And some were in key positions during the
Vietnam debacle nearly 35 years ago (yes, Henry Kissinger is back, thought I
would argue he should be in prison). None were elected, and the mainstream
press asks few hard questions about them. "We the people" cannot question
them directly -- they will not let us. The press must do that for us, but
by-and-large they don't.

They tell us who our "enemies" are, or who our "strategic partners" are, and
the press marches along in step. The faceless and nameless define "threats"
and recommend weapons and strategies to answer them. The press only reports
but rarely questions.

We are about to militarize space at the direction of Don Rumsfeld, when even
the Pentagon says a missile attack is the least likely threat to our nation.
TRW, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and a hundred other sub-contractors will get a
cash infusion of $250 billion to half-a-trillion dollars, and someone will
still be able to float a crude nuclear device right into your beautiful bay
in a rusty freighter.

The $60 to $100 billion-dollar figure Rumsfeld is so quick to throw out is a
godforsaken lie and he knows it.
So whom is Rumsfeld working for? You? Me? Our service people now in uniform?
Our kids (God forbid they should be called)?

Mr. Bush -- and I refuse to call him "President" -- doesn't have a clue about
any of this without cue-cards or a TelePrompTer text. In your wildest dreams,
can you imagine the boy arguing with Don Rumsfeld on a defense policy, or
Henry Kissinger on a foreign policy issue? John Kennedy stood up to the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, just about the whole Congress, and most of his own advisors,
and averted World War III during the Cuban missile crisis. GW would have been
a deer caught in the headlights.

So a committee is running this country, and a handful of corporations and
rich individuals own the committee. They are the ones I want my country back from.
And as a veteran I ask these questions:
When a few hundred individuals -- through the shear force of their money --
can buy a presidency, would the United States be worth fighting or dying for
if the call came again?

Would our young men and women be defending our country and Constitution on
our behalf, or on behalf of an un-elected committee for the benefit of
defense contractors or oil companies?

Should there be even a shadow of a doubt? Of course there should not be, but
as long as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and their appointees are running this
country, there sure as hell is a doubt - a huge doubt.

But until we -- and I mean all of us -- young and old -- right now, right
here -- pledge to vote in every national election (even if we have to knock
down doors to do it), things won't change. Less than fifty percent of us
voted, and only about one-half of those who did vote swallowed the Bush
illusion hook, line and sinker.

You can take this to the bank: It was un-cast votes that put Dick Cheney in
the oval office.
And until we strengthen our dedication to changing the electoral process in
which offices -- including the Presidency -- can be bought by the highest
bidder (under the guise of "free speech"), I will weep for my country and for
the young people who will inherit it.

Until the press once again does its job in helping us determine who is or is
not qualified -- in character and intellect -- to become the leader of the
free world, guys like "G.W." will happen again and again. Make today the
beginning of the end of a system that is killing our American dream.

And let us send this message to our flaccid, ineffective press: REGAIN YOUR
COURAGE. A nation that does not believe you is far more dangerous to your
future than a hostile government.

And let us send this message to the men and women in Congress (from both
parties) who are not already bought off: FIND YOUR GRIT. The "Bushies" are on
the thinnest of thin ice. Some are inches away from criminal prosecution.
Help the press expose them, and trust us to do the rest with our votes.
And let us send this message to this shadow government: We are taking our
country back. "We The People" have become your worst nightmare. Listen
closely Dick, Donald, Henry, George, and the companies who own you: We know
what you did, and we know what you are doing. You're on notice that from this
moment forward (as the song says) :

"The times they are a-changing"


Veteran and member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Ed Reiman is also one
of the founding members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 144. He gave
the keynote speech at the opening ceremony for the traveling Vietnam
Veterans' wall, sponsored by the VVA. During the 80s he was a volunteer
facilitator for veteran counseling groups, working with team leader Steve
Tice. Mr. Reiman returned to Vietnam for the first time in November 2000 in
the aftermath of Election 2000.

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