I spent the week arguing with several conservatives about Obama’s healthcare plan.
It was ugly.
But they could not hear me, they can only hear their hate which echos in their empty minds. It is a loud and potent hate.
A mean spirited man accused me of, “using American servicemen to further my own agenda.”
He accused me of spitting on soldiers during the Vietnam War.
That is impossible. I was a child when that war was fought and have little memory of it. I could only assume he didn’t know that I have spent the last eight years, writing, researching and advocating for vets.
I asked him, “How can you say these things about me when you don’t know me?”
He did not respond.
Then I told him what I did. He later he accused me of the same things again.
I was angry, so very angry. How could he say that about me?
The next day I went to DC with my daughters, to visit the Vietnam Memorial. I needed to be centered. I needed to erase the ugly words of those hateful men, who thought it was fine to wear swastikas to a rally about health care reform and compare Obama to Hitler because he had a plan to help 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance.
I have interviewed lots of Vietnam vets in my work. I have cried with them, held their hands and listened to their stories of unspeakable horrors. Sometimes when I am alone at night, I think about what I heard and saw. It is forever clear in my mind.
I did not know how to explain the war to my daughters who are 7 and 10, but as we walked into that black sea of names, there stood a homeless vet. He was dirty, his shirt was stained, and his face was bloated. He wore a filthy medal around his neck. He was missing half a finger.
He wanted to tell visitors about the war and so I listened, like I always do, and asked the questions he so wanted to answer.
He told me he was dying of cancer. I asked him if he was hungry. He said he was and so I gave him some money.
My youngest daughter watched us. Afterwards she grabbed my hand and said I had done a nice thing. She said the man could have been on that wall, but now he was homeless and sad.
But I didn’t feel good at all.
To see the stirring video, click here.
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