By William Johnston
As a veteran, I have found Donald Trump’s fascination with the military to be bizarre if not downright outlandish. He has wanted military parades marching through Washington, DC fashioned like those in two-bit despotic countries to warn its population not to get out of hand. Now he has taken the next step and ordered the U.S. military to use force against American citizens. He has ordered attacks on peaceful protesters using their First Amendment right of assembly. He has violated separation of church and state by using the Episcopal and Catholic Church as political props. Trump standing in front of a crucifix – a holy symbol I have knelt before all my life – by this man with no perceptible morals repels me.
Trump’s violation of his office, the Constitution and common decency, for me, is very personal given my family’s military history and the Vietnam War.
Let me return you to the days of the military draft. It is February of 1966 and I have just lost my student classification. I no longer have a II-S deferment. After a chat with my local draft board lady, I was informed that I would be drafted at the end of the academic year in June. I have read recently that Trump – our UN-ELECTED president – lost his student deferment the same time I did.
Few Americans at this time realized how quickly the Johnson Administration was building up the military for war as they dug a deeper disastrous hole for themselves in Vietnam. This is how the system worked. You got drafted for two years – went to basic training – advanced infantry training – handed an M-16 and shipped to Vietnam. By the end of the year, the casualty list grew by the hundreds, reaching a total of 58,000 dead before the U.S. was forced out.
I admit that I was not against the war at this time, but I did have questions. Understand, I come from a family that has not avoided military service since the American Revolution. I had two great grandfathers in the Union Army and my dad was in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. My brother was already in the Seabees in Vietnam. I joined the Air Force.
Donald Trump’s father paid off a doctor to claim that his boy had bone spurs and so was 4-F (medically deferred). As General Mattis, the former Secretary of Defense, told a group last year, “I earned my spurs in battle – Trump earned his with a doctor’s letter.” I had friends who opposed the Vietnam War and “served” alternative service in VISA, the Peace Corps or working in nursing homes. Unlike Trump, they were not dishonest nor were they cowards. A draftee in 1966 was on his way to a rice paddy weapon in hand for a year and we all knew it! TRUMP WAS A COWARD!
About this time, my brother was climbing a telephone pole just out of DaNang Air Base when he was fired on and had to jump from the top of the pole. His back never recovered. My 19-year-old brother Tim was killed in a shipboard accident on the USS Hancock. During this time, Trump bragged that because thousands of young men were in the military overseas, he had more women available at home to have sex with. Who votes or supports this disgusting creature? Yet I notice the VFW and American Legion have invited him to their convention every year and given him a wild welcome. As a veteran, I am embarrassed.
My working class parents “donated” four sons to the military during the Vietnam War. They lost one. Another was seriously injured for life. Even if my parents had the financial resources to do so, they would never ever have paid off a doctor to allow one of their sons to avoid military service. Something so significant to our family history, and given my family’s morals, are on a higher level then Trump’s.
Trump wanted to order 20,000 active duty U.S. Army regular troops to occupy the city of Washington, D.C., a violation of the law without Congressional approval. Only the total opposition of his cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff prevented him from doing so. Now he wants to have a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on the 4thof July just as his totalitarian buddies like Putin do.
But wait: How would he see the parade? I don’t know, since he has put a fence up completely surrounding the the White House grounds and maybe hiding out in his bunker. I guess the little tin soldier would have the military and police attack citizens again to clear his way again.
About William Johnston
William Johnston has lived in Washington State all of his life. Born in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula, he has lived in Tacoma for the past 35 years. He has been married for 50 years, with two children and three grandchildren who live a mere two blocks down the street and keep him very busy. He is a proud creation of the great Pacific Northwest.
He is a graduate of Western Washington University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in journalism and political science. His Masters Degree is also from WWU in political science with concentrations in political theory and American political processes.
Johnston is also a veteran of the United States Air Force – a legal specialist in the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at bases in the U.S. and at Taipei Air Station Taiwan (ROC). He was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant.
With the exception of three years as a policy analyst for the Washington State Senate, Johnston was a staff member and elected officer of several labor organizations. Over a 30-year career, he served as an organizer, business agent, local president, district council president, international trustee, administrative officer and political director for unions in both the private and public sectors. He was the secretary/treasurer of the Skagit-San Juan Central Labor Council for eight years and is now a member of the National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981).
Johnston has well over 500 published articles in a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and organizational publications. Awarded first place by the Society of Professional Journalists for best editorial commentary on NW National Public Radio, he delivered weekly commentary for 14 years and hosted his own radio program on politics and labor for 15 years on KSER Community Radio in Everett.