I dropped out of Indiana University in 1969 in disgust over the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Almost immediately, I was drafted into the army. Campus and community protests against the Vietnam War were going full bore at the time, and I was in the thick of many of them.
One night my father and I sat down at the kitchen table to discuss my options. I was every day of 20 years old and thought because of my education, recent travels, encounters with police and univeristy authorities that I knew a little something about the world. And, like most 20-year-olds today, I just knew I knew more, understood more, than any old foggies like my dad, especially my dad.
Herbert Dyer, Sr. (third-grade education, illiterate except for the ability to sign his name to his iron foundary-produced check each week) understood inately, completely my opposition to the war. He himself had served in the Army in World War II. He was “disappointed,” to put it mildly, that I had left school. He believed that I had blown my only chance to avoid the iron foundary. Still, he tried to advise me as best he could.
“Son,” he said. “Now, you could go to Canada, but you will never be allowed back here to be with us. Or, you could ignore the draft and maybe -- probably -- will go to jail.”
I dismissed both of those possibilities out of hand. But, despite his old fogginess, he was making sense. I listened carefully to his third option: “What I would do, if I were you," he said, "is join one of the other branches that are not fighting in Vietnam, like the Navy or the Air Force.”
I did not want to go to Vietnam under any circumstances. I did a little research and discovered that, yes, both the Navy and Air Force were there but had limited roles. I discovered that joining the Navy was probably my best choice.
And so, in July of 1970, I enlisted in the United States Navy, after having the recruiter promise me in writing¸that I would not be sent to Vietnam. I did nine weeks of boot camp in San Diego, and then was ordered to report to the U.S.S. Dubuque (LPD-8). The Dubuque (then a brand new ship -- now decommissioned) was a troop transport ship that carried 400 sailors and 2,500 marines and all of their equipment. Our first port of call, after Pearl Harbor, was DaNang Harbor, South Vietnam.
Over the next three years, I made five landings in Vietnam aboard the Dubuque.
I recount this personal history because it has now been revealed that the Republican presidential candidate, and my generational soul mate, Mitt Romney, also made a choice about whether to serve his country. At the time, Mormons were one of the few religious groups given deferments from military service as a matter of course. Mormons are required to proselytize throughout the world, and in 1968, young Romney went to Paris and the beaches of France, while men like me went to the jungles of Vietnam. Romney has five military-age sons, not one of whom has ever served in any branch of the military.
Before Romney went to France, however, he participated in a few protests. His protests were in support of the Vietnam War. Yet he did not feel deeply enough about that war to put his own body and soul on the line in support of America.
What does this say about this would-be president/commander-in-chief? That he would eagerly "support our troops," while avoiding combat for himself and his children? Or is it simply that (as was the case back in the '60s) rich kids just didn't go to war?
Willard Mitt Romney has been a fraud and a hypocrite for his entire adult life.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.