Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Things I Used to Believe

Before I read other accounts of what Senator John Kerry (D-MA) allegedly did to win a silver star in Viet Nam, written by his comtemporaries who were  in the same battle, I believed the silver star was a proud achievement. I still believe it generally is, but I no longer say, as I have in the past, 'thig guy got a silver star, that's so cool--they don't give those out for nothing.'

Apparently they do.

And here's more grist to the mill. A famous fellow who grew up in my home county in southwestern Virginia, just received a silver star for being shot down in a U-2 spyplane over the Soviet Union in 1960. That would be  Francis Gary Powers, who died decades ago in a helicopter crash.

These guys are treating him like a hero. I want to believe that, but this is what I was told. Powers received extra pay to kill himself with a shellfish toxin needle in order to avoid capture if he were ever shot down, and Powers didn't do it. His continued existence became a real headache for the US Government when they decided to deny that there ever was a piloted spy plane over the USSR to shoot down. So first the Soviets displayed the wreckage of the U-2 and we accused them of manufacturing this evidence, then they displayed the live pilot. OOPS. We got caught lying. We got caught lying to our own citizens. Some historians think this was a turning point in our nation's feelings about our government, the tiny seed from which a huge Oak tree of distrust and disdain has grown.

Then we had to give up a pretty big fish from the KGB in order to get Powers back.

Not our finest hour and adding a silver star for failure on failure seems to me pretty lame.

Would I be happier had Powers crashed the plane (yes) or, failing that, taken the toxin? (Hmmm. Maybe not.)


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