Monday, May 31, 2010

Dishonoring America's Veterans

For those who have served in the military, there is nothing worse than claiming medals that one didn't receive -- or awards that one didn't get. Mark Kirk (R-Wall Street) has been "claiming he received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s." In doing so, he dishonored those who served -- and, especially, those who died in the service of this country.

No one who has met Mark Kirk could express surprise. The very definition of a Washington politician, Kirk will say (and, apparently, do) anything to get what he wants. Kirk would love for us to believe that he didn't recognize the difference between the prestigious Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award and the rather unknown Rufus Taylor Intelligence Unit of the Year. But this explanation doesn't really fit with Kirk's personality. It's much more likely that he simply lied about it for personal and political gain. This fits with Kirk's pre-existing pattern of using his service in the Naval Reserve *politically* to infer that opponents don't know everything he does.

But, on Memorial Day, we should acknowledge the dishonor to the service that Kirk's false statements have brought.

This is a particularly odious characteristic of Kirk's, claiming personal (and exclusive) credit for something that was due to a unit that he led. The men under his command -- like the jobless in Illinois -- were meaningless, even though it was their work in target acquisition that prompted the award. That Kirk would conflate the unknown (and corporate sponsored) National Military Intelligence Association award with the prestigious Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award merely shows the vast horizon of Kirk's ambitions.

But it also dishonors those who served with him, and all our military veterans.

On this Memorial Day, 2010, we should call on Mark Kirk to respect the honor and integrity of the U.S. Navy and the United States Armed Forces:

1.) Mark Kirk should apologize to the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano for his misappropriation of an award that rightfully belongs to them.

2.) Mark Kirk should apologize from the well of the Congress for the false claims that he made "during a House committee hearing in March 2002. In a remark recorded by C-Span, he said, "I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year," an achievement he depicted as providing special qualifications to discuss national security spending."

3.) Mark Kirk should apologize TODAY to all the veterans of this country, not just those in Illinois, for his repeated mischaracterizations that brought dishonor to the uniform and to the service.


4.) Mark Kirk should apologize to the people of Illinois and the United States for his shameful behavior.

Mark Kirk has proven repeatedly that he would say or do anything to achieve his ambitions, a trait that is certainly typical of a Washington politician but is *not* part of the code for how officers in the U.S. military conduct themselves. On this day, we deserve an apology. Kirk has dishonored the uniform and those who served with him. He needs to make that right.


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