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Deceit Betrays Ideals of Nation Keepers

The Vineyard Gazette - January 10, 2003
By Sam Low

The resignation of Henry Kissinger as chairman of President Bush's panel to investigate the 9/11 tragedy reminded me of a recent emotional encounter with a painting. It was by the artist Howard Pyle - who influenced Andrew Wyeth - and it hangs in Pennsylvania's Brandywine River Museum. The painting is entitled "The Nation Makers."

From a low angle, Pyle depicts a diagonal slash of Continental Army soldiers crossing a grassy sward. In the foreground, a young man holds his musket at 'present arms.' He yells something. Next comes a drummer - a teenager - his sticks in hand, his gaze fixed ahead. There's a fifer, a torn flag not yet unfurled for battle, a horseman astride a bucking mount. Sword drawn, an officer leads them. In his middle years, slightly balding, his expression is locked in the fullness of his commitment. The marchers are a bedraggled lot, a ragtag outfit dressed in whatever came to hand - or was left to them after many campaigns. They are veterans all - grimy, tattered and torn, some hatless. They are the Nation Makers.

I found myself in tears.

I don't often cry - much less when confronting a simple work of art. And especially one so unabashedly romantic and patriotic.

I cried because I know these men.

They are the ones I grew up with, graduated high school and college with, and went off with to war in distant Southeast Asia. They are the same lot who came back blighted and holed in spirit - if they came back at all. They are the Nation Keepers. They suffered and died - as did the Nation Makers - in the fulsomeness of belief in their country and the rightness of its mission.

Confronting Pyle's vision - I could no longer ignore how our present government is trampling the gift of the Nation Makers and the Nation keepers. I was overwhelmed.

I wept for them all.

I wept because they were brave and they are gone. And because they were deceived. And one who helped mightily to deceive them is Henry Kissinger.

Mr. Kissinger's resignation does little to assuage outrage over his appointment in the first place. He cites conflict of interest. Indeed?

Conflict of Interest did not bother Henry Kissinger a whit when it came to his treasonable actions during the Viet Nam war. While he was a Democrat and working for Lyndon Johnson, on the eve of the 1968 election, he secretly convinced the South Vietnamese to withdraw from peace talks. The Democratic administration was discredited. Nixon was elected. Kissinger promptly changed parties to join the new Republican government.

As a result of the Kissinger/Nixon interference in the peace process, the Viet Nam war dragged on for seven more years. Twenty Thousand American Nation Keepers perished, as did hundreds of thousands of others. These facts are documented in two Harper's magazine articles and a book entitled "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" by Christopher Hitchens, and in a newly released BBC documentary. They have never been refuted.

Interfering with peace negotiations during wartime is treason. Simply stated, Bush saw fit to choose a self-serving traitor to investigate the worst terrorist disaster in our history.

Conflict of interest indeed.

The real motive behind Kissinger's withdrawal was that even President Bush - isolated as he seems to be from the real world - must have realized that Henry's past had caught up with him. Or perhaps he was swayed by the rising chorus of disapproval from the relatives of our 9/11 dead. They know that with Kissinger - the master of coverup and deceit at its head - the panel would have never revealed what truly went wrong on September 11th, 2001.

Gaze for yourselves on the faces of Pyle's Nation Makers. As you do, consider all those young men and women who have gone off to war to set free their fellow brothers and sisters. To guarantee liberty for all. To break the tyranny of kings and dictators. To stamp out the despotism of mercantile monopolies that hold in thrall the honest rewards of human sweat. Consider the high goals and aspirations of America that compelled these early Nation Makers - and all those who have followed - to risk their lives on fields of battle.

Now, from the Bush White House comes the rattling of sabers and muskets. But this time, the rattling and bluster comes from men and women who have never faced an enemy bullet in their lives. From those in our society who represent the arrogant and overstuffed elite that the Nation Makers confronted across their raised muskets. From a cabal motivated by self and not by other. The whole sanctimonious lot of them. How dare they appeal to patriotism? To the values of the Nation Makers and the Nation Keepers? To the high purpose of our constitution and our declaration of human rights? How dare they?

My generation of Nation Keepers believed they were carrying on traditions laid down by these earlier Nation Makers. My generation was deceived. The deceit continues.

No wonder, I cried.


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