Bush, Veterans, & the Confederacy
is disturbing that President Bush not only has refused to attend
the funeral of any service- person killed in Iraq, but also refuses
to send condolences to fallen servicepeople’s relatives. Bush’s
denial of acknowledging U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq—the same
as his government’s media ban on showing body bags and coffins—is
even worse when compared to his sending wreaths to Confederate graves
on Memorial Day. However, looking at his record, this should not
are fighting in Iraq, Bush cut soldiers’ danger pay and family
separation allowances, cancelled a Congress-proposed doubling
of servicepeople’s life insurance benefits, and slashed GI
Bill benefits. Most servicepeople now are too low-paid to receive
Bush’s per-child tax credit and many live on food stamps.
Bush cut $600
million from the Veterans Administration budget, although the
VA is already under-funded by around $2 billion a year and now
has over 200,000 new veterans to service—many of whom are
already sick with Gulf War Syndrome, which has left over 270,000
Gulf War vets disabled and over 10,000 dead. There are also plans
to cut $1.5 billion per year from the VA’s budget for each
of the next ten years.
Guard and Army Reserves have returned home only to be placed in
“medical hold” while the Army decides what medical treatment
and benefits—if any—they should receive. Some soldiers
have stated the Army has tried to claim their Iraq injuries/illnesses
were “pre-existing conditions.” Soldiers are having
to wait four to six months to receive medical care while their
treatable ailments turn to permanent disability. At Fort Knox,
more than 400 wounded soldiers lasted the Kentucky summer in a
non-air conditioned, animal-infested barracks. At Fort Stewart
(Georgia), over 600 wounded soldiers languish with no indoor plumbing
and have to pay for food and lodging. On a re-election stop last
fall, President Bush visited Fort Stewart, but refused to see
the wounded soldiers.
indicates the war was started on fictitious grounds. It has left
more than 700 soldiers killed, over 9,000 wounded, and over 1,000
evacuated for psychiatric evaluation.
of Texas, Bush wrote official state letters honoring white-separatist
organizations such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy,
whom Bush praised for their “high standards” and “dedication
to others,” and to the unreconstructed Sons of Confederate
Veterans, to whom Bush has had a membership.
Bush also wrote
a fundraising letter for the revisionist Museum of the Confederacy
in support of their annual ball. The ball, held in a slave hall
turned gun foundry which produced Confederate munitions that killed
union soldiers, entertains hundreds of all-white guests in antebellum
costumes surrounded by Confederate flags. The museum sells books
that support the Confederate Constitution.
Bush, who previously
attacked the NAACP’s boycott of South Carolina over the Confederate
flag, campaigned at South Carolina’s white-supremacist Bob
Jones University and, in the words of southern journalist Jackson
Thoreau, “genuflected before the Confederate flag.”
Close ties between
Bush’s Southeast Regional 2000 campaign chairperson, Warren
Tompkins, and neo-Confederate vanguard, Richard Hines, resulted
in Hines’s (then-unregistered) political action committee
mailing over 250,000 letters condemning John McCain for seeing
the Confederate flag as a racist symbol and lauding Bush for appreciating
it. Hines, long connected to the nation’s leading white-supremacist
(which celebrates the
assassination of Abraham Lincoln) claimed on one of his websites
to have “an active voice in the current Bush administration,”
which Bush has never denied.
will be interesting to see what President Bush does this year. Will
he again pay tribute to fallen Confederate soldiers? Will he finally
acknowledge U.S. casualties from the Iraq War? Being an election
year, probably neither—nor will he memorialize fallen servicepeople
from the Vietnam War, the war President Bush was so unwilling to
fight that he deliberately lost his flight status.
Kyle Tucker is
a freelance writer living in the Joplin, Missouri area.