CPT Pete Hegseth is a man of courage and honor. He has served with the United States Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo Bay. He was one of the dominant faces of Vets for Freedom. VFF was composed of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who worked diligently to urge congress, particularly after Democrats took control in 2006, to support the effort in Iraq. VFF also supported many veterans as congressional candidates in 2010 – you may recognize some. I was a member of Vets for Freedom in early 2008. I joined about 500 other veterans in D.C. to meet with our congressmen. We heard some good speeches by Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham and others who supported the effort and we split up to meet with with our respective representatives in Congress.
There are lots of great anecdotes I could share about the event. For instance, what happens when you put 500 combat veterans in the lobby of a hotel – amazing to see the rowdy group of guys drinking, hollering, swapping stories, then to see whole sections of the room get quiet when someone inadvertently shares a story of a loss. This is sometimes followed by a toast to the fallen and an eye or two getting misty before the partying resumes in earnest. For many of us, it was the fallen that spurred us to travel to D.C. in the first place, to ensure that their sacrifice was honored with victory.
Another great anecdote involves eight veterans on an elevator in a House office building when a Congressman and his snooty aide got on the elevator with us. Sensing some hostility, the confused aide blustered “Don’t you know who this is?” The nearly seven foot Marine standing next to me grinned evilly and said, I assure you, we all know who “Baghdad” Jim McDermott is, but do you know who WE are? We are the people who serve and fight while your boss kisses up to brutal thugs.” Both the aide and the Representative seemed to shrink in on themselves for the remainder of the elevator ride. We just smiled until the doors opened and they hurried off and we had a good laugh.
The last two are much more important anecdotes. Of the 500 veterans present, about 50 were from Minnesota. We met with then Senator Norm Coleman who was gracious and gave us more than an hour of his time. Unfortunately he lost much support with this group by uttering the line “I don’t like the word victory, I prefer ‘success’.” Considering the margin of his loss that year, those words may have been the difference. A foolish statement delivered by a mealy-mouthed politician to men who had put their humanity and their lives literally on the line fighting for victory, not success. We went to Senator Klobuchar’s office. Her lackey at the desk told us she couldn’t meet with us. Unfortunately for her, 50 veterans fill up the hallway in that area of the Senator’s office area, and her attempt to sneak down the hall unnoticed was a failure. We gathered around her and explained that we just wanted to talk to her. In a nasty tone, she said “I’m talking to you now, what do you want?” We were all wearing matching Vets for Freedom shirts, and we had scheduled this appointment with her, so ignorance is not an excuse for her behavior. She was nasty and vile to us. One of the concerns many of us who have been to Iraq had was the fate of the Iraqis we had come to know – decent men, women and children who just wanted to live their lives like we do. What would become of those who assisted the U.S. because of their desire for freedom, should Al Qaeda, Iran, and Al Sadr take over? Little miss “for the children” betrayed her liberal hypocrisy by saying that wasn’t her problem and we shouldn’t have gotten involved. When asked if that meant she would rather they were still being brutalized by Saddam, her only response was that we want the same things we just see them differently, or some similar political nothingspeak.
This all brings me to the point. Pete Hegseth, one time point-man for an organization of veterans dedicated to victory in Iraq, an organization spurned by Amy Klobuchar:
It is still early in the process and there are other good names and good people wishing for the nomination. For me, it would be wonderful irony if CPT Pete Hegseth unseated Amy Klobuchar.