Beilein shouldn’t talk about not enlisting

There was an article in the Alpena News, Sports section on March 27, 2014, about the University of Michigan basketball coach John Beilein. The article deals with serving our country. Beilein states that he wished he would have “joined up,” for military service during “Nam.” He states that he wished that he would have went into military service, his reasoning was that “it wasn’t cool in 1971.” He fantasizes about a movie set during World War II and the heroics of individuals trying to save “Private Ryan.” Really. While Mr. Beilein was using his deferment to go to college and play basketball in 1971, many of us had been away from our wives and children fighting for 10 years. Some of us had served two tours in-country. Some 55,000-plus young men and women never made it home, sacrificing all for their country. Mr. Beilein do not tell your story to the Mothers, Fathers, Sons, and Daughters about how you failed to serve. Do not try to use flawed reasoning to convince the 2.5-plus million men and women who did commit. Mr. Beilein claims to have trained his athletes to stand at attention and to show respect when the national anthem is presented. Shouldn’t they be doing this anyway? This posture is what is expected of everyone when our flag and national anthem is presented to the general public. In my opinion Mr. Beilein need not say a word about his failure to commit to military service as a young man, but do not use Vietnam Veterans as the excuse. With the death toll of Vietnam in mind, I am sure that there was one brave man of 55,000 who would have made one hell of a basketball coach.

James H. Smith