Gerry Bell: Strange, but I don't feel like a loser

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Despite recent pronouncements by the president of the United States, I don't feel like a loser. I was born in 1947, a winner of life's lottery because I was an American. As part of the leading edge of the Baby Boom, I was the beneficiary of all the sacrifice and hard work of my parents' generation.

In 1968, I was called upon to pay my dues — the highest dues in the world, to the least exclusive club — a nation of immigrants. I had to decline my admission to postgraduate business school, because as part of the graduating class of 1968, you fell into one of three categories: you were admitted to medical school (I wasn't pre-med, nor did I want to be a doctor); you were 4-F (my family didn't own a doctor who would attest to debilitating bone spurs); or you were going into the armed forces of the United States.

That settled that. I thought I had some leadership ability and should make the best contribution I could, so I went to Navy OCS and became a naval officer. I drove a cruiser around for a vice admiral and fleet commander; we had some scary moments, among them wartime cruising in hostile waters, fire at sea, flooding below decks, and a near collision — but I came home in one piece and without mental trauma. Three years of my life while people named Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump wriggled out of it — but hell, who's counting?

In the years since, my son and daughter, and my friends and acquaintances, have thanked me for my service every Veteran's Day. I have always responded, "You don't owe me any thanks. I did what I was supposed to do, and I came out of it whole — it cost me only time. Your thanks should be directed to those who didn't come home, or who came home crippled or emotionally or mentally damaged. To those people you owe not only thanks, but everything you can do for them."

But today I am wondering exactly what kind of country I defended. It seems to be a country in which a large part of the populace — if not an electoral majority — supports someone who regards people like me as suckers and losers. We are apparently too stupid to realize that there was nothing in it for us in taking arms to defend our country and its interests. We are apparently suckers to consider the implications of anything except for how it will affect our own self interest.

I have had enough of this gutter-crawler, and I have had enough of the people who support him, whatever their disingenuous rationale. In his contempt and denigration of those who gave the most for our country, he is utterly despicable. He deserves the support of absolutely no one.

There were times in the Vietnam era when I despaired of my country's policy, but I carried out my duties and responsibilities nonetheless. Today, considering the possibility that this same country may elect four more years of this sociopath, I really wonder whether I would do it again.

Gerry Bell is a resident of Shaftsbury.

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