Time to Make the Doughnuts: Lawmakers back to work on Monday
Yippee! Tomorrow our lawmakers head back to work on Capitol Hill--que: "time to make the doughnuts..."--for what Washington watchdogs believe will be a short, sweet, and likely, unproductive session. Why? There's an election in November and as many of us know lawmakers fight furiously for those coveted, wool-itchy seats in Washington so they can sit there for days on end and not get anything accomplished. (Nobody tell them you can now stream television shows on Netflix on your iphone. Just don't.)
Topping the agenda are the national budget and immigration reform, hot-botton issues I am suprised nobody has gotten physical over in the past. (C-Span would be so much more interesting, no? Popcorn anyone?) What I am watching out for is the defense spending bill for 2015, which Congress approved in the spring and the Senate is set to consider, followed by an unlikely as-is approval by President Obama--who has squabbled with a Republican-controlled house over pay raises for defense personnel. Moving right along...
As some of us know that bill has buried in its text a "sense of Congress" resolution that URGES Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to order that the names of the 74 men killed on the USS Frank E. Evans be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Hagel, I was told, promised Evans veterans he would help--there now exists several affidavits regarding this. That was in 1999 when Hagel, at the time a Nebraska senator, spoke at a well-attended memorial service to the three Sage brothers killed on that ship. See my OpEd in the Lincoln Journal Star. I have video of his speech and I wrote about it in American Boys: The True Story of the Lost 74 of the Vietnam War. "We love you Mrs. Sage," he told the forever-grieving mother in front of several hundred people. The latest word is Hagel is waiting for the Senate and Obama to approve the resolution, attached to the controversy-ridden spending bill that Hill reporters predict won't pass until December...ish . Note: Chuck Hagel does not need their approval to do this--it's a "sense of Congress" resolution, which means it doesn't have teeth. It was, however, a unanimous vote and might not see any opposition in Washington. My point is, he can do this without them.
That said, I'll be watching from afar over here in California, urging as many people as I can to read my book, get furious, contact their lawmakers, etc. I am sending Chuck Hagel a copy of my book this week. I'm going to do it via Amazon to help avoid security concerns. He's been at his post since 2013, knows about this issue, and hasn't moved on
As I've said many times and some of you are seeing, American Boys is a solid case for including the names on the wall--how can you argue with a Vietnam Service Medal? I am pretty sure my little educational gesture/gift might go unnoticed in the mess the entire world is in right now. So, I'm thinking, maybe... YOU could send Hagel a copy? Journalist Jack Cheevers said American Boys should be "required reading" at the Pentagon, which has long said the 74 men on the Evans were not in the war when they were killed. (Again: Vietnam. Service. Medal.)
Not sure how many of you read this blog but I think we could make it feel like Christmas morning over there in Arlington--a tough-to-ignore gesture that will, for once, educate a Department of Defense secretary on the realities of the Seventh Fleet during the Vietnam War and the truth about this ship in particular. This is the third DoD secretary to consider adding the names and it's time they know the truth over there in that famous five-sided building.
It's a simple gesture, I know.
Amazon.com and BN.com will even gift wrap it for you:
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon Washington, DC 20301-1400