I just read Jed Babbin’s article about my brother, Captain Edward Alan Brudno, USAF, the first POW to die after returning from 7-1/2 years of captivity in North Vietnam. He was awarded the Silver Star and was one of the longest held POWs in American history. Mr. Babbin’s piece, like other reports, leave the impression that some secret exception to the rules was being contemplated, thus it was necessary for everyone to weigh in on the issue in order to maintain the integrity of the Wall.
As you can imagine, Mr. Babbin does not have the same facts as the Air Force does. They determined that Captain Brudno’s case met all existing criteria for adding his name to the Wall. Their recommendation was going to be approved by DOD, until Jan Scruggs hijacked the issue.
Mr. Babbin does not challenge any of Scruggs’ assertions. Mr. Scruggs knows full well that my family sought no exception and did not challenge the existing rules. We also were not seeking to change the public’s perception of the moral implications of suicide. As hard as it may be for Scruggs to accept, we asked only for an up or down judgment based on all existing criteria. The final decision will be announced shortly.
When he caught wind of DOD’s proposed addition, Mr. Scruggs went public with cries that the sky is falling. He has said publicly that thousands of suicide cases will “easily meet these new criteria,” when no new criteria have been established. The Air Force determined that my brother’s physical and psychological wounds were suffered in direct combat with his enemy captors, occurred in the war zone and that those wounds led to his death. How many of those thousands of suicides Mr. Scruggs cites as having occurred after the war could meet that standard? My brother was set free and left to founder by himself, bleeding from his unseen wounds without the care that every POW since his death has been given. His death saved the lives of others. That is why doing the right thing by this man — within the rules — is so important. There are few circumstances that match this tragedy. Scruggs’ implication that adding the name of such a person would somehow encourage others to commit suicide at the Wall is an outrage.
Mr. Scruggs’ incredible insensitivity is on full display in Babbin’s article when Scruggs says, “I personally apologize to the family for any emotional stress caused when the issue quite inevitably became public.” Publicity was neither sought by us or inevitable. He was responsible for all of the publicity when he violated our privacy, first with e-mails to Capitol Hill that leaked into the Internet and then with his media interviews and press releases. He played fast and loose with my brother’s name. He didn’t communicate his objections privately to the DOD. He went public and used my brother like a prop in his self-appointed role as protector of the nation’s Mall. Since my family was exposed to the media by Scruggs, we have been unable to get our privacy back. As for his apology, we have received none from him, and, with all due respect, placing it in the pages of the Spectator is not sufficient.
The irony is that Scruggs himself opened the Pandora’s Box he warns of. His wild statements as President of the VVMF that thousands of other cases will be eligible if my brother’s name is added will themselves encourage others to apply. Then Scruggs can send these poor people to DOD and claim that he was right all along. Had Scruggs not gone public, abided by the rules, and pledged to accept DOD’s decision, my brother’s name would have been added quietly and without the controversy that Scruggs set off for his own cynical purposes. He has dishonored my brother, my family, other veterans and the Vietnam Memorial itself. He is to be congratulated for building the Wall, but he would serve Vietnam veterans better now by resigning.p>Very truly yours, br> — Robert J. Brudno
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?