Sunday, November 12, 2000

Vets say U.S. needs to know who its next commander is

They call on Gore, Bush to make peace

By Robert Anglen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        From Mount Suribachi to the deserts of Iraq, they have fought this country's battles and wars, but today veterans don't know who will be their next commander in chief.

        It's a situation that some local veterans say can't be endured — and the talk of recounting ballots and threatened lawsuits over the presidential election only makes for more confusion.

        They see the situation with soldiers' eyes, like a battle undecided.

[photo] Don Phillips, a World World II veteran, joins Veterans Day ceremonies Saturday in Blue Ash. He was a radio operator in the Army Air Corps.
(Tony Jones photo)
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        “I have been in nations that have been in limbo — a lot of them,” said Frank Baird, a pilot with the Flying Tigers in China during World War II. “We should have a president right now.”

        Standing in front of a monument Saturday at the Blue Ash Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park, Mr. Baird said Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George Bush need to come to terms with each other and leave the rest of the country out of it.

        “I learned when I was 19 years old, flying missions, that you've got to make a decision just like that,” the 78-year-old Deer Park resident said, snapping his fingers loudly. “They need to make a damn decision.”

        He said whichever candidate is chosen for the Oval Office, the other should accept it. That's the kind of leadership he expects from a commander in chief.

        Dick Thiery, a Sycamore Township resident who fought in the Korean War, says he knows the election will work itself out. But he also said the responsibility of letting that system work rests on shoulders of the two candidates.

        “Gore should give up,” he said. “It's in a little turmoil. You need a president.”

        West Chester resident James Smith, a Marine who fought in the South Pacific 50 years ago, said the election aftermath shows just how litigious society has become.

        “It is important to get this resolved immediately, as soon as possible,” he said. “The best thing would be for both candidates to make a joint statement that they would abide by the count and forgo any legal matters.”

        “They'll get it worked out,” said Bonnie Rost, a Navy Nurse Corps veteran from Colerain Township. “We're a big country, with a lot of people, and it takes time.”

        While she would like to see the election resolved, Ms. Rost said she isn't too worried about the interim.

        “Both candidates are good people,” she said, noting that the system has built-in checks and balances. “We still have the House and the Senate.”

        But Mr. Baird, whose eyes still glaze over from the memories brought home from those far-away countries, says it's time to end the squabble over votes.

        The battle, he said, needs to end.

        “It scares me a little bit, not knowing.”


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