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An Open Letter to Bob Dole

Dear Senator Dole,

You made a huge mistake yesterday by thrusting yourself into the middle of this Presidential Campaign. You called on Senator John Kerry to apologize for remarks he made in 1971. But now I call on every Congressman and Senator who supported the Vietnam War to apologize to every mother and father whose child was killed, or physically, emotionally or psychologically maimed in that misguided effort - as calculated from the moment that John Kerry first spoke to Congress to the moment that war actually ended. How many additional American lives were needlessly lost or shattered in that period? Can you tell me?

Men like John Kerry helped force an end to our involvement in Vietnam. What Senator Kerry did in 1971 and 1972 may have caused discomfort for some, but was absolutely necessary. And, yes, Vietnam fell. Or, seen from another perspective, the Vietnamese people completed their revolution - just as our forefathers did with our victory at Yorktown. They became responsible for the fate of their country, just as we are responsible for the fate of ours. And the Berlin Wall still fell. The evil empire still collapsed. And I suspect that someday the Vietnamese will embrace some form of the free-enterprise system just as eagerly as have the Chinese. Every nation has a right to make its own mistakes, and find its own way. If our systems and ideals are truly superior, then Heaven will guarantee that they eventually win the day.

Senator Dole, in light of everything that has happened the since the 2000 Election, I'm afraid that this country is in danger of splitting right down the middle - and that statements like the one that you issued yesterday serve no purpose but to further divide us. I humbly suggest that you find some way to back away from your unfortunate comments - lest our appreciation for your great service to this country, both in Italy in 1944 and in the United States Senate, be overwhelmed by our righteous rage. I know of a man who fought in Vietnam who, to this day, has difficulty sleeping soundly through the night. The memories of that war haunt him still - even though, unlike John Kerry, he carries no shrapnel in his body to remind him of the wounds he suffered in his nation's service. Senator Dole, would you mock that man's wounds as well?

Sincerely yours,

Matthew Carnicelli © 2004. All rights reserved.

Originally published Aug 23, 2004.