Honor, the budget deal and Kanye West

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I sought to refrain from commenting on the ridiculous remarks made by Kanye West, but in light of the way our veterans are being treated by our own elected officials in this budget fiasco, I felt the need to weigh in.

How is it that we have devolved so in America to disrespect and dishonor the service and sacrifices of those who serve and protect us, willing to make the last full measure of devotion?

To hear Kanye West state that performing on stage is as dangerous as being a police officer or being in combat, perhaps I should laugh. I’m disgusted.

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Let me tell you the story of a different West family.

Herman West Sr. was born in 1920 in Ozark, Alabama and for whatever reason, jumped the Chattahoochee River and grew up in south Georgia. He answered his nation’s call and served in World War II. He deployed as a supply/logistics soldier landing in North Africa, and then moved on to Italy. He went into Rome after its liberation. While he was running dispatches on his assigned motorcycle transport, he was blown off during a bombardment and suffered severe head trauma. I remember as a kid feeling the lumps on his head. He went on to serve the remainder of his life as a nursing assistant at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Atlanta. Herman West Sr. did not sing or dance, but he put his life on the line for America.

Then there’s Herman West Jr., call sign “Pootney”, a real doozy of a fella but when his nation called, he volunteered — not drafted — to serve in Vietnam as a Marine. He shipped out in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Marine Regiment — assigned to a distant place called Khe Sanh.

Pootney was an infantryman, a true Marine grunt, and it was there during an NVA bombardment that he was injured and received severe back trauma. I recall as a kid watching the CBS Nightly News, knowing my older brother was right in harm’s way. I remember our family getting notification of his being wounded and treatment at a hospital in Okinawa.

Herman Jr. was medically discharged and when he came home, it wasn’t to cheering crowds like Kanye West feels are so dangerous. Instead, he and his brothers in arms were called names that dishonored their brave service.

However, my older brother still had more to offer this country. After serving on the front lines, he wanted to stand with the “Thin Blue Line” and ended up becoming a City of Atlanta police officer. We were so proud. He eventually became a detective. He never did prance around on a stage and make rhymes to music. Herman Jr. just put his life on the line for America, and Atlanta.

Lastly, there is Herman Bernard West III – Bernie — an Artilleryman and Paratrooper like his uncle and a proud graduate of North Georgia State University already with a couple of trips to Afghanistan under his belt.

In January of 2014 I will be honored to host his promotion ceremony to Major at Ft. Leavenworth Kansas where next summer he will attend the US Army Command and General Staff Officers College, just as his uncle did from 1996-1997. Bernie earned his right shoulder combat patch in the same Airborne Artillery Brigade where I served at Ft. Bragg North Carolina. My nephew has embarked upon an honorable career in service to our nation.

And by now, you know about my service in uniform.

Herman, Pootney, Bernie and I belong to a West family that has given its all in combat and service to this Republic. That other West? Just a shallow court jester and a minstrel. The fact that he is so deluded as to think his comments have any credence shows you what is happening to the culture of this nation.

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