Ed Note: During the debate on this topic over the last three or four days, one thing became crystal clear; Veterans on both the left and the right, and as exemplified in Ms Napolitano's apology, veterans' organizations as well, disagreed on the importance of this story. We of course thought it was very important, that's why we posted the above article. We, and the many others who responded with outrage must have hit an exposed nerve with the administration. The apology that we, and others called for, particularly the American Legion, came via CNN from Secretary Napolitano, herself. If the Veterans had remained silent, and there was no need for any apology, as some have suggested, I am sure that the Secretary would have remained silent on the subject. This is a good start on the road to Change, for Veterans.
Good move on her part, and appreciated, and respectfully accepted by those of us who called for it, originally. Sometimes the squeaky wheel get's oiled. The sad note is, that General Shisenki, Secretary of the Dept of Veterans Affairs, still maintains his silence on this matter...as well as on the recent documented reports of records shredding at Regional VA offices, and the infections with HIV and Hepatitis of Veterans at VA hospitals and VAOPCs in Miami, Fl; Memphis, Tenn; and in Georgia, as well. A fact that we cannot, and will not overlook in the months to come, here at VetSpeak.org.
Apology by Secretary Napolitano:
During the furor, many who wrote in said that this was nothing new, that this treatment of Veterans had been going on as long as anyone remembered. Of course, that's no excuse, as far as we are concerned, but it would seem to be borne out by this poem of Rudyard Kipling's, from the 19th century British colonial era. (Submitted by Dave Collins, VVAW, Texas Hill Country)WH
I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!