There is a certain kind of man who talks up his involvement in the military. Certain little men, sometimes called fabulists or Kerryesque winter soldiers, sometimes posers or poseurs, seek to puff themselves up by inventing or embellishing their military exploits. Sometimes these men are boot camp rejects, while others serve as supply clerks who later become, in their retelling, men of steel.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is one of these.
I served on active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1983 to 1987. Joining to kill America's enemies, I didn't see any, unless you count crooked Japanese landlords.
Things have changed somewhat since then, but there is a difference between being in the Marine Corps Reserves and being and active duty Marine.
No reservist could ever accidentally imply that he was active duty. He would know what he was implying, and that it would be a lie. These issues form for Marines a kind of sacred trust, preserved from one generation to the next. We step lightly and with great care around anything to do with Marine Corps heritage, tradition, and purpose. Overstating valor is simply not anything one does accidentally.
There is a similar difference between being an active duty computer geek and being a rifleman, humping hills and sleeping on dirt.
No computer geek could ever accidentally imply that he was a rifleman. He would know what he was implying, and that it would be a lie.
And there is a difference between being a rifleman, sleeping on American dirt, and being a supply clerk in a war zone.
There is likewise a difference between being a supply clerk in a war zone and being one in combat.
And of course there is a difference between being a supply clerk in combat and being an actual Marine Corps infantryman in combat.
Only a combat veteran, and not every one of those, could ever rightly say that he had "served in Viet Nam". The rest would know what they were implying, and that it would be a lie.
For in saying "I served in Viet Nam", one invokes lines of grunts slogging through rice paddies, avoiding punji sticks and jungle rot. There is no accident or confusion at work here. There is only ignominious deceit.
The poser ignores or is ignorant of the significance of each level of difference. The moment, and his own purposes, are elevated above the respect for his brothers and the vastly greater sacrifice they have made.
Attorney General Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) is a disgraceful liar. It besmirches the name of every Marine from Captain Nicholas to Chesty Puller to imply that one has seen action he has not. Glory is not cheap, and those who grasp for it seldom deserve it.