They seemed to confirm my rather confused views of the war on Vietnam.
I was fortunate to be too young to go to Vietnam, having turned 18 in 1977. But I still thought being a combat veteran was cool, even though I knew that the war was wrong.
I don't recall knowing of John Kerry back then, and if I had I'm sure I would remember it -- he seemed the embodiment of all that was heroic, both on the battlefield and in the protests.
Eventually, I came to realize my views were immature and self-absorbed.
While I still respect any veteran who talks against any war, I realize those who resisted the draft -- or just refuse to support any war -- are just as heroic.
It's really all about the victims of war -- yes, including soldiers, but particularly those people whose only crime was being born in another country, often one which harbors or threatens natural resources we crave.
When we dress men and women up as war heroes, we presume that there are good wars, and we forget or refuse to see the destruction we have rained down upon the innocent.
We call it the Vietnam War.
The Vietnamese call it the American War.
Over the years, I have heard rumors about John Kerry not being all he was supposed to be.
And increasingly, I have grown disgusted with anyone who promotes their war record for political gain.
But when Kerry ran for president in 2004, I supported him.
His opponent was one reason.
But I thought that Kerry might take the real lessons of Vietnam and use them as president.
I dismissed all the Swift Boat talk as the doings of right-wing nuts who would stop at nothing.
And I still had hopes for Kerry even after he lost, as he remained in the U.S. Senate and then became Secretary of State.
But the scales finally fell from my eyes: Kerry is just another neocon from Iraq to Israel.
So much for the lessons of Vietnam.
I guess Kerry finally learned the answer to his question he posed in 1971: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"
In the meantime, I've come to learn the full story about John Kerry -- about how he seems to have never understood the huge suffering he and his war inflicted on the Vietnamese.
Seems like it has always been about John Kerry.
Kerry is once again back in Vietnam.
And once again he's playing to the press to burnish his image.
He still doesn't get it.