(On Nov. 19) I witnessed an event that I thought I would never see in this country. I witnessed a decorated American Army officer being questioned why he was wearing his dress uniform while on active duty. This came up during question and answer sessions in our nation’s capital.
In my opinion, why this was allowed to happen is a direct result of the distrust and dishonor showered on our American servicemen. The decorated Army officer in question is a loyal combat-tested American serving his country in an honorable fashion. That he could be dishonored, and the resulting shadow of every American service person, is a shame and a sad commentary on our leaders.
Unfortunately, questioning this officer’s uniform came from the Republican Congressional delegation at the series of hearings. Of course, it could have come from the Democratic side, but that is not the point. The point is that an American serviceman has the right to wear his uniform at a function unless it is strictly forbidden by the commanding officer of that officer.
I must also say that the right to wear that uniform comes with the obligation that it is worn correctly with the correct insignia and awards as required by current military regulations. To question a highly decorated active duty war veteran about something as benign as his choice to wear his uniform is unquestionable wrong by any standards.
Looking at the incident in question televised (Nov. 19), I have personally been in that same conference meeting with the intelligence committees while serving in the U.S. Navy. On every occasion, I wore the prescribed uniform of the day along with my fellow officers and senior officers. Even while meeting with President Bush and his staff, I was never in any uniform except my best uniform of the day.
I found that exchange in a public forum, such as this current impeachment hearing, simply outstandingly wrong. I do not know if the Congressional persons questioning the officer were prior military. If they were, I would hope that those questions would have never been asked.
Although I have been retired since 2006, I do not believe those standards have changed. I understand our world is changing. And with it, our nation is choosing to change in directions I find questionable. However, I maintain faith in the American people. We can return to our basic core beliefs of honesty, fairness, and loyalty to our country if we can stop long enough to see what we have done to our country.
Wayne A. Cox (Captain, USN, Retired) Spout Spring