THE cliche goes: "Just business, nothing personal."
The hell it is.
John Kerry makes me weak in the ankles - and now it's personal, not business.
In the next few days, there will be a person reporting for duty in Iraq. His name is Army Capt. Peter J. Dunleavy.
Capt. Peter J. Dunleavy is not one ounce more special than the guys and gals he will go to Iraq with - no more special than the thousands of the brave boys and girls who have gone before him, and those who will certainly go after him.
He is, of course, special to his wife, Debbie, his mother, Gloria, his brother, Sean, Sean's girlfriend, Laura - and his friends in the sports bars who cheer for the Giants.
He is special to me, as are all the thousands of boys and girls who serve this country, because he looks at fear as a headache and duty as the ultimate.
And yet, John Kerry makes it look like those guys and gals are just victims - wrong war, wrong time, wrong place.
How dare he say that to our brave boys and girls? How dare he whisper it - let alone shout it to the whole world?
Now I am somewhere in Oklahoma to see off Capt. Pete, 37, my eldest boy. I ask him what he makes of Kerry's talk.
"Dad, we don't listen to politicians. We listen to our commanding officers," he says, growing bored already with the conversation.
I ask him where he is going in Iraq, what he will be doing, as all the worried parents of so many thousands of brave boys and girls surely do.
"Don't know. I'll just go where I am needed," he says matter-of-factly.
Sunday he left for another base, where he will be re-equipped, before taking off to Iraq in a few days.
On Saturday night, Pete and wife Debbie, a reservist in the Navy, had their last night out for a long time - at the Navy Ball.
It was there that Pete was given the official honor of re-enlisting his wife for another two years.
Capt. Pete is not worried about Kerry's outrageous statement - wrong war, wrong time, wrong place - because he's stronger and braver than that.
But I sure am worried.
In my book, Kerry is giving comfort and succor to the enemy. And don't forget that Tokyo Rose got jail time for it after World War II, and Jane Fonda, Kerry's soul mate, should have during Vietnam.
"Look, don't worry. I have been in the Reserves for more than 10 years - we are all well-trained, well-equipped," said Capt. Pete.
"To be honest, apart from having to leave Debbie back here, I'm psyched," he told me. "It's a privilege to serve and be given a new chapter of experience.
"I'll just knock this tour over and get on with it. No biggie."
I was in Baghdad last year, and it was very easy for me. Death was everywhere, but no one was shooting at me.
But that won't be the case for Pete and the men and women with him.
"Dude, don't worry about it," Capt. Pete says again.
And that's the attitude of the thousands below him and above him, the brave men and women doing the fighting.
But this father does worry - and worries even more about John Kerry.
When John Kerry says wrong war, wrong time, wrong place he undermines not my boy, but our boys. He embarrasses the United States abroad and he saps morale.
And that demands the severest reprimand. It is duplicity and cowardice and political opportunism of the worst kind. It's enough to make you cry.
I don't care what's on your watch, Sen. Kerry, this one's on my watch.
And then we come to the final "see ya later" at the airport. We hugged - and I couldn't talk.
Then I felt something strange - for the first time, after a lifetime of feeling like an adolescent, I felt old. Sending a kid off to war does that, I guess.
So Capt. Peter J. Dunleavy - and all the guys and gals that are going with you, and all that are there, and all that will come after you - go for the sake of our freedom. For the sake of your wife Debbie's freedom, your mother Gloria's freedom, your brother Sean's freedom, his girlfriend Laura's freedom - and the freedom of the boys in the sports bars cheering for the Giants.
Heck, for the sake of your dog's freedom. His name is Salty Dog. He loves you so much.
To you and all your comrades: Go with God.
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