I remember back in the day when John F. Kennedy was taking the oath of office as the president of the United States. The only thing that has stayed with me over the years is “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
I think our country has lost its way and the phrase has been turned around to be “ask not what you can do for your country but what it can do for you.” It fact, it has become a basic tenet of politics today which is sell favors for votes.
This thought came cascading into my memory while I was waiting in the motorcycle staging area behind the Milan Funeral Home. It took six-decades to bring Army Captain Turnace H. Brown’s body home to rest. The thought that it took so long to bring a man who died a POW in the Korean war struck me as a breach of trust by those that would send us to war.
Being in a war is not a good experience. I think the greatest fear I ever had was that some how I would be captured and my country would not come to my rescue. Where as I was never captured my horror was realized when in 1974, the congress passed a low that no money would be spent by the Department of Defense or the CIA to find or recovery any American servicemen in Vietnam.
In theory, they were all accounted for but in reality there were about 2,200 men and women that were unaccounted for. There was no doubt in my mind that any prisoners left in some of the jungle cages of the VC or NVA that were out of the mainstream communication nets were murdered because they were a political liability. This does not discount those soldiers that could have been cut off and struggling to find their way back.
This was not an idle pipe dream or nightmare but a grim reality whose seed was planted in my mind when I read Bernard B. Fall’s on the Battle’s in Vietnam fought by the French paratroopers and the Foriegn Legion. After the loss at Dien Bien Phu, the French ran and the last radio transmission from troops evading the Viet Minh was a plea for help over a year later. A plea in which the French made no effort to honor.
It has only been through the efforts of such organizations as Rolling Thunder, the American Legion Riders and etc. to hold the government accountable for the MIA’s and captured that the similarities of Korea and Vietnam are and will remain ghosts of wars gone by. This feeling of abandonment is still carried by my brothers and sisters who served and our commitment is to see they are not fogotten and will never go to their graves unescorted or forgotten.
These are not small groups as there were over 450,000 motorcycles at the Memorial Day ralley in Washington, DC. This is a brotherhood of men and women who understood what John F. Kennedy had in mind when he said ” Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” They are known by what they do and not what they talk.
I saw no one from the community that came to say good-by to Capt. Turnace H. Brown.