(Marshalltown, IA) Dressed in a navy business suit and wearing his Tennessee American Legion cap, Vice President Al Gore used a Veteran’s Day address in Iowa to outline the defense initiatives he’d pursue as president.
However, Gore, a military journalist from January to May of 1971, diverted from his prepared speech text to talk about being a veteran of what was an unpopular war.
“Those of you who have not seen the experience of Vietnam veterans may wonder sometimes why it is that when two Vietnam veterans meet, they’ll often just reflexively say to one another, ‘Welcome home,’ even if they’re from different towns and different states and have never met one another before. And, of course, that symbolic greeting, which is nearly universal, is intended to kind of reaffirm in the hearts of each the feeling that many Vietnam veterans had to build for themselves coming home,” Gore said.
Gore spoke to about 200 World War II era veterans, half of whom were in wheelchairs, assembled in an activity room at the Iowa Veteran’s Home.
“I know, as so many of you do, what it’s like to leave home for a war zone. I don’t claim that my military experience matches in any way what others here have been through, or that my skills as a soldier could rival those now standing guard…But I can and do understand what many others feel in their hearts as they leave their families to defend their country,” Gore said.
Gore said the next President must get the U.S. Senate to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty and get Congress to pay, in total, the dues America owes to the United Nations.
“Unfortunately, more and more each year, engagement abroad means a political struggle here at home. When Congress risks our vote at the United Nations by refusing to pay our dues, that does not honor the service of our veterans,” Gore said.
Gore also promised to redouble international diplomatic efforts and boost U.S. investments in other democracies around the globe.
“History teaches us that an ounce of prevention is worth a mighty arsenal of cure,” Gore said.
Gore spoke vaguely of providing the U.S. military with the support necessary to “deter and, if necessary, reverse aggression,” but he did not provide specific examples of weapons programs or military pay proposals.