Is there something in the air right now that’s causing politicians to embellish their military service? I hope it’s not contagious. If it were, here’s what I could say in my stump speech:
“I was wounded while in the military during Vietnam. Furthermore, my actions were so noteworthy that they prompted a special gathering during which I received personal recognition from my unit for my actions and my injuries (you can still see the scars). It was a day I will never forget!”
It’s true. Everything I just said. And if I were campaigning, I could trumpet it just as I’ve described above. And it would all be completely accurate.
But here’s what really happened. I was an Air Force reservist during the Vietnam War on a training weekend at a base in Colorado. I was a clerk-typist and my assignment one day was to help paint an office. But my co-reservists and I got bored and decided to have what we called an “office Olympics.” The first event was to jump on to a desktop from a standing position. A couple of guys successfully did it, then it was my turn.
But when I jumped, the front of my shoes hit the edge of the desk and my momentum caused my shins to scrape against the edge before I fell backwards onto the floor. The horseplay left my shins bloody. I couldn’t find any band-aids to help stop the bleeding, but then I looked out the window. There was the base infirmary.
So I went to the infirmary where they cleaned the cuts and gave me some band-aids. But my visit to the infirmary triggered something else: an official accident report! And unbeknownst to me, our unit had a long-standing record of no accidents–my stupidity wrecked the streak. So the next training weekend, there was a special assembly to go over basic safety principles because of what I’d done. Apparently our commander was pretty steamed. Oops.
I received no official reprimand for my boneheadedness, but I did get a story I can trot out if I ever run for office. It could come right after the account of my time at Oxford…