Frank Lea Speech

Frank Lea Dedication Speech

 

 

I AND THE OTHER SURVIVING MEMBERS OF THE FIRST GRADUATING CLASSES OF CMA HEAD TOWARD OLD AGE WITH VARYING DEGREES OF INFIRMITY. BUT THE FORMER CADETS REPRESENTED ON THE MONUMENT BEHIND ME HAD THE LAST 50 OR 60 YEARS OF THEIR LIVES SNATCHED VIOLENTLY FROM THEM IN AN OBSCURE COUNTRY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. ALBIET LATE. IT IS RIGHT AND PROPER THAT WE HONOR THEM FOR THEIR SERVICE AND FOR THEIR LOST YEARS.  

    THIS YEAR MARKS THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BEGINNING OF THE VIETNAM WAR.MANY OF OUR FORMER CADETS WERE IN THIS WAR. OVER THREE MILLION OF OUR COUNTRYMEN FOUGHT AND 58,282 DIED. MOST WERE VOLUNTEERS; SOME WERE DRAFTED. SOME ON THIS MONUMENT VOLUNTEERED; SOME WERE DRAFTED. BUT ALL FOUGHT WITH VALOR.

   THE VIETNAM WAR WAS WAGED IN SOME OF THE MOST BRUTAL CONDITIONS EVER KNOWN IN WARFARE. OUR SOLDIERS WON EVERY MAJOR BATTLE THEY FOUGHT IN. WAR IS CRUEL, UNCONTROLLABLE AND UNPREDICTABLE. ALL WHO FOUGHT HAVE SCARS - BOTH SEEN AND UNSEEN. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN UNWOUNDED COMBAT VETERAN.
  
THE MILITARY DOESN'T START WARS. POLITICIANS START WARS. THIS WAR - ALL WARS - WAS WAGED BY POLITICAL OLD MEN BUT FOUGHT BY BRAVE YOUNG MEN. AND THIS WAR BECAME CONTROVERSIAL. WHEN A SOLDIER PUTS ON A UNIFORM, HE DOESN'T GET TO CHOOSE THE WAR. HE JUST GOES AND DOES THE BEST HE CAN. TOO MANY IN THIS COUNTRY BLAMED THE WARRIOR FOR THE WAR. ONE OF THE MOST PAINFUL PARTS OF OUR PAST IS THE VIETMAN WAR. THE WAY MANY OF OUR RETURNING TROOPS WERE TREATED IS A NATIONAL SHAME AND DISGRACE. MANY AMERICANS TURNED THEIR BACKS ON OUR SOLDIERS. BUT OUR SOLDIERS NEVER TURNED THEIR BACKS ON AMERICA. THOSE WHO SPOKE AGAINST THE MILITARY AND OTHERS WHO SAID NOTHING IN RESPONSE TO THE SHRILL UN-PATRIOTIC CRIES CAN ALL SHARE A COLLECTIVE GUILT. THOSE OF US WHO COULD HAVE GONE TO VIETNAM BUT LET SOMEONE ELSE GO IN OUR PLACES NOW COPE WITH A DIFFERENT GUILT.

    THANKFULLY, OUR NATION HAS RECOGNIZED OUR DEBT TO THESE VIETNAM VETERANS. FOR MANY OF THESE VETERANS, THE APPRECIATION CAME TOO LATE. BECAUSE OF VIETNAM, WE NOW HONOR OUR MILITARY EVEN IF WE MIGHT QUESTION THE WISDOM OF THEIR MISSION. LET US ALWAYS GIVE OUR MILITARY A CLEAR MISSION AND A SOUND STRATEGY. THAT IS OUR LESSON FROM VIETNAM. 

    WE HONOR OUR FALLEN CAROLINA MILITARY ACADEMY BROTHERS TODAY.  I CLOSE MY REMARKS WITH THESE PROFOUND WORDS OF EMERSON FOSDICK:

 

"THE TRAGEDY OF WAR IS THAT IT USES

MAN'S BEST TO DO MAN'S WORST."