Another member of the greatest generation

Another member of the greatest generation

Here’s a great column from Joe Fitzgerald from the Boston Herald about a 71-year-old Korean War vet who’d had enough of scruffy, dope-smoking, scruffy-haired, maggot-infested war protesters. (The column is only available to subscribers so I’ll excerpt the relevant portion.)

Ralph White, a Marine who came home from the Korean War with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, was standing outside his Beacon Street office yesterday afternoon, watching protesters approach, feeling his anger rising.

“They were blowing horns and waving disfigured flags with peace signs on them, so I had to show my feelings. I gave them thumbs down, and a few gave me the finger, which was all right. But then this young guy, who seemed to be in his 20s, sidled up to me and asked, ‘What do you think about the war?’ At first I thought he was a reporter. I said, ‘We’re doing the right thing; it has to be done.’

“And he says, ‘Oh, so you think it’s OK our troops are over there murdering innocent people for oil?’ I said, ‘No, they’re over there defending your right to get in my face without me punching you in the (bleeping) mouth.’ He tells me, ‘Try it.’ At first I ignore him, but when he brushed against my shoulder heading back to the demonstrators, I went after him.

“Here I am, 71 years old, rolling around Beacon Street, and it felt great. I nailed him! Then the state police moved in and did their jobs, breaking it up all too soon, separating us. They saw him make the first move, but weren’t looking to arrest anyone. When they asked if I wanted to press charges I said, ‘Hell, no, I’d just like another piece of him.’”

What prompted this Marine’s response? “What got me was this war is just starting; this is not the third year of Vietnam. I think they know it’s going to be a short one, so they don’t want to miss their chance to give aid and comfort to the enemy. And the other thing that got me was how all the other people on the sidewalk almost cowered when this crowd came along, stepping back. I can’t believe how passive people are.”

Yesterday, Fitzgerald ran another column the followed up with people’s responses. Ralph’s wife began field all kinds of calls about the incident.

“They were Marines, wanting to tell him, ‘Semper fi,’ ‘’ Gerri reports. “One, who sounded like he was Ralph’s age, all gung-ho, called from a Lexington coffee shop where a group of them had just read the story. I said, ‘You guys sound as if you’re ready to leave for Kuwait.’ He said, ‘You bet we are! Tell Ralph we’ll swing by to pick him up.’ I told him, ‘My God, don’t joke about it. He’d go with you.’”

Others are sending money to buy Ralph a new suit since he damaged the old one.

I think people of Ralph’s generation know what evil regimes are and haven’t forgotten the horrors of Nazi Germany and Tojo Japan and recognize it when they see it. They know that Saddam’s regime is just as evil and still a great threat to our country and are willing to send their grandchildren off to war and into harm’s way to protect the rest of us.