On Jan 17, 2021, Chapter 168 member John Wilborn's Letter to the Editor concerning racism was published in the Louisville Courier Journal.
Readers’ Forum UK basketball team kneeling "I am a veteran and, despite the recent statement by two law enforcement officials, in no way do I feel disrespected by the University of Kentucky basketball team and coach Calipari for kneeling during the national anthem before a game. However, there is disrespect for veterans and it is implemented by our own government. Government disrespects veterans by putting them in harm’s way when there is no threat to our nation’s security. And that is exactly what happened in Vietnam, where I served, and Iraq.
A few days before they kneeled, the UK players and staff saw a Confederate flag inside our nation’s Capitol. That flag is a stark reminder of the racism embedded in our country from before its founding right up to today. For this veteran, kneeling during the anthem has nothing to do with disrespect but everything to do with minority athletes understanding the United States is not the land of the free and never has been." John Wilborn Louisville, 40242
Chapter 168 member Peter Berres was published in the Lexington Herald Leader leading up to Veterans' Day 2020.
Like virtually everything else this chaotic year - Veterans Day 2020 hasn’t escaped disorder. COVID-19 has cancelled parades, ceremonies and rituals. Military suicides have spiked 20-30%. National Guard units are deploying on American streets. Yet most of the mayhem engulfing Veterans Day is not virus-caused.
Rather an effect of our Commander-in-Chief subverting veterans with unprecedented attacks including - disparaging military leadership as incompetent and corrupt and condescending references to those who served as “losers and suckers.” Reflecting, no doubt, his smirking sentiment since Vietnam when, expending privilege for medical exemption, he dodged his own duty. Minus even a pretense of principle.
This infected environment poses dilemmas for those desiring to acknowledge veterans -- what can be done to meaningfully support them in 2020? Students enrolled in the Veterans Studies Program at Eastern Kentucky University honor vets by recording their stories in intimate interviews, shared with family and archived in the EKU Berge Oral History Library.
“That interview was the longest conversation I’ve ever had with my Dad,” commented current EKU student, a middle-aged Iraq veteran, after interviewing his Vietnam-veteran-father.
Intended to debunk student-held stereotypes, the (informal) class-mantra reminds: If you know a veteran, you know one veteran. But… it seems, we don’t really know even that veteran. Each interview invariably reveals significant insights into the individual, family and military service. Public perception, likewise, is distorted by stereotypes and manipulated sentiments: everyone serves for noble reasons, sees combat, puts their life in danger, and is a hero. “Most veterans have problems and don’t want to discuss their service.” How did we come to accept that talking to veterans necessarily causes psychological harm?