Challenges columnist's characterization of senator's wartime injury - Catholic Courier

Challenges columnist’s characterization of senator’s wartime injury

To the editor:
 

The Feb. 26 issue of the Courier ran a column by Antoinette Bosco of Catholic News Service, regarding political ads entitled “Season for raw lies, misrepresentation is here.” In it, she states her “long-time friend” former Senator Max Cleland is a Vietnam War Vet “who lost both his legs and one arm in battle.” She is angry about a 2002 political ad, which she believes portrayed him as not patriotic. Actually, the ad in question relates to Senator Cleland’s refusal to vote for the Homeland Security bill, not his Vietnam service, which was honorable and heroic. Ms Bosco then states from now on she “shall be ever on the alert for raw lies.”
 

Speaking of “raw lies,” doesn’t Ms. Bosco know that her “long-time friend” Max Cleland didn’t really lose his legs and arm “in battle,” as she claims? According to the Boston Globe and many other newspaper accounts, he admits that he lost them in the division assembly area on his way to drink beer with his buddies during a non-combat mission. He was getting off a helicopter, noticed a grenade on the ground and picked it up as it exploded.
In Cleland’s own words: “I didn’t see any heroism in all that. It wasn’t an act of heroism. I didn’t know the grenade was live. It was an act of fate.”
If Ms. Bosco is searching for lies and misrepresentation, she can find them in her own columns. Is she a bad journalist who didn’t check her facts? Or does she know the facts but decided to mislead her readers?
 

Robert Fritz

Evergreen Circle

Walworth

 

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BOSCO RESPONDS: Mr. Fritz is absolutely correct when he called former Senator Max Cleland’s Vietnam service “honorable and heroic.” Cleland’s book, Strong at the Broken Places, shows how this man, a strong lover of his country, volunteered in 1967 to go to Vietnam, unlike some others of his age and survived the devastating siege of Khe Sanh.
When his tour of duty was almost over, he was asked to send a radio relay team to a division supply area, needed to improve communications. His book relates that he was back on the helicopter when he decided to stay to work personally with the team and later have a cold beer with his buddies. So he jumped to the ground and was watching the chopper lift off when he looked down and saw a grenade. It exploded as he went to pick it up, and he lost both legs and an arm.
 

Mr. Fritz no doubt accurately quoted Max Cleland saying this “wasn’t an act of heroism.” This veteran says many things with light-hearted humor. When I interviewed him back in 1989, he told me, “I don’t think of myself as handicapped, but just severely inconvenienced!” How many, in his situation, could say that!

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