A pledge of allegiance for today
"I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and
to the Republic for which it stands: One nation, indivisible, with Liberty
and Justice for all."
Ladies and gentlemen, I come here today to speak as a father and veteran.
I would not presume to speak for all veterans... I'm just one man who
served in our most tragic conflict. I did nothing remarkable in Vietnam;
I did my job and came home to build a life and be a good citizen.
I am also speaking as the father of two wonderful young people -- a son
who will graduate from college next month, and a daughter who will graduate
from college a year from May. Today I speak for them and millions of young
people who will soon take the reins of our nation. They will either inherit
a country that belongs to them, or one that belongs to the few who have
recently grabbed power through the Supreme Court, a clearly flawed electoral
process, and the damnedest smoke-and-mirror job in the history of American
And I am here to tell Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, George
Shultz, James Baker and the rest of the Committee running this country
-- and the corporations that own them (like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW,
and others) -- We know who you are, we know what you've done and how you
did it, and -- if we have our way -- this is your last hurrah!
And I am here today to tell Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings
-- on the souls of Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, Chet Huntley, and
other past giants of the press -- that they must do a better job. For
our country's sake, they must. They can help us take our country back,
or they can let the tyrants will out.
Simply stated: I want our country back.
I want it back for us and for our kids.
I want back the assurance that my vote will be counted, and that my voice
is heard between elections. Once-upon-a time my voice was heard, and I
did believe that my vote would be counted. Not now.
Why do I feel so strongly?
In 1966, I raised my right hand and swore, in part, to ". . .protect
and defend the Constitution of the United States. . .". I went to
Vietnam to uphold that oath in 1967. Many of you were caught up in the
same set of circumstances. I'm glad we made it through, and I still grieve
for those who didn't.
It turns out we were being misled by incompetent and -- in some cases
-- arguably criminal public figures, who had anything but this country's
best interests in mind -- and they sure as hell didn't care about us or
the people of Southeast Asia.
The press and a misinformed electorate played along for too many years.
From about 1960 through 1968 our government and a gullible, compliant
press "sold" us on the idea of our involvement in Vietnam. After
"Tet" of 1968, the mainstream press finally began asking serious
questions, and "grown-ups" began to join the young in protesting
the war. A confused and bewildered nation elected Dick Nixon on his lie
about a "secret plan" to end the war, and the press danced along
with the lie. But the war dragged on another four bloody, useless years.
Finally an irate public -- aided by a free press -- forced an end to the
During those bright and shining months the press did its job and "We
The People" -- through an independent Congress -- were heard. We
can make it happen again.
Now we jump ahead thirty plus years.
George W. did not run for President, nor was he elected. Rather, the Bush
name was successfully packaged and "marketed." Hundreds of millions
of dollars -- the bulk of which came from a mere handful of rich individuals,
a couple hundred corporations, and a small group of ideological organizations
-- sold us a product called "Bush." It could just as well have
been a new brand of dog food. The corporate media simply carried commercials
for the sham.
And a credulous, compliant press helped in the marketing of this unqualified
ne're-do-well to an exhausted and battered American electorate. Now that
he's been appointed President, these same journalists continue to validate
him by reporting "President Bush said today (you fill in the blanks)."
G.W. hasn't said anything coherent - that was not written for him - from
the moment he was selected to run by the millionaires' club that got him
appointed. Every time he's left the script, he's made a fool of himself
and our country.
Right now this country is being run by a detached, un-elected committee
whose policies are being delivered by a mouthpiece from Texas. The more
appointments they make, the more detached they get from us, and the more
profound the damage they do. And heed this: their second and third-layer
appointees are more dangerous than themselves.
Again we are being sold a "cold war," and again we are being
led by "cold-warriors." Some are sworn appointees and some are
just "advisors." Some are merely right-wing radio hosts. And
some were in key positions during the Vietnam debacle nearly 35 years
ago (yes, Henry Kissinger is back, thought I would argue he should be
in prison). None were elected, and the mainstream press asks few hard
questions about them. "We the people" cannot question them directly
-- they will not let us. The press must do that for us, but by-and-large
They tell us who our "enemies" are, or who our "strategic
partners" are, and the press marches along in step. The faceless
and nameless define "threats" and recommend weapons and strategies
to answer them. The press only reports but rarely questions.
We are about to militarize space at the direction of Don Rumsfeld, when
even the Pentagon says a missile attack is the least likely threat to
TRW, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and a hundred other sub-contractors will
get a cash infusion of $250 billion to half-a-trillion dollars, and someone
will still be able to float a crude nuclear device right into your beautiful
bay in a rusty freighter.
The $60 to $100 billion-dollar figure Rumsfeld is so quick to throw out
is a godforsaken lie and he knows it.
So whom is Rumsfeld working for? You? Me? Our service people now in uniform?
Our kids (God forbid they should be called)?
Mr. Bush -- and I refuse to call him "President" -- doesn't
have a clue about any of this without cue-cards or a TelePrompTer text.
In your wildest dreams, can you imagine the boy arguing with Don Rumsfeld
on a defense policy, or Henry Kissinger on a foreign policy issue? John
Kennedy stood up to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, just about the whole Congress,
and most of his own advisors, and averted World War III during the Cuban
missile crisis. GW would have been a deer caught in the headlights.
So a committee is running this country, and a handful of corporations
and rich individuals own the committee.
They are the ones I want my country back from.
And as a veteran I ask these questions:
When a few hundred individuals -- through the shear force of their money
-- can buy a presidency, would the United States be worth fighting or
dying for if the call came again?
Would our young men and women be defending our country and Constitution
on our behalf, or on behalf of an un-elected committee for the benefit
of defense contractors or oil companies?
Should there be even a shadow of a doubt? Of course there should not be,
but as long as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and their appointees are running
this country, there sure as hell is a doubt - a huge doubt.
But until we -- and I mean all of us -- young and old -- right now, right
here -- pledge to vote in every national election (even if we have to
knock down doors to do it), things won't change. Less than fifty percent
of us voted, and only about one-half of those who did vote swallowed the
Bush illusion hook, line and sinker.
You can take this to the bank: It was un-cast votes that put Dick Cheney
in the oval office.
And until we strengthen our dedication to changing the electoral process
in which offices -- including the Presidency -- can be bought by the highest
bidder (under the guise of "free speech"), I will weep for my
country and for the young people who will inherit it.
Until the press once again does its job in helping us determine who is
or is not qualified -- in character and intellect -- to become the leader
of the free world, guys like "G.W." will happen again and again.
Make today the beginning of the end of a system that is killing our American
And let us send this message to our flaccid, ineffective press: REGAIN
YOUR COURAGE. A nation that does not believe you is far more dangerous
to your future than a hostile government.
And let us send this message to the men and women in Congress (from both
parties) who are not already bought off: FIND YOUR GRIT. The "Bushies"
are on the thinnest of thin ice. Some are inches away from criminal prosecution.
Help the press expose them, and trust us to do the rest with our votes.
And let us send this message to this shadow government: We are taking
our country back. "We The People" have become your worst nightmare.
Listen closely Dick, Donald, Henry, George, and the companies who own
you: We know what you did, and we know what you are doing. You're on notice
that from this moment forward (as the song says) :
"The times they are a-changing"
Keynote Speech at VoterMarch Rally San Francisco, May
19, 2001 by Ed Reiman
Veteran and member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Ed Reiman is also
one of the founding members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 144.
He gave the keynote speech at the opening ceremony for the traveling Vietnam
Veterans' wall, sponsored by the VVA. During the 80s he was a volunteer
facilitator for veteran counseling groups, working with team leader Steve
Tice. Mr. Reiman returned to Vietnam for the first time in November 2000
in the aftermath of Election 2000.
Ed Reiman may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.