With the presidential election less than 100 days away, brother Gary from Honolulu sent me an interesting brochure in the snail mail. His brother-in-law Paul Udell, a long time Honolulu resident, recently visited Vietnam with his beautiful wife June. One of their stops was the infamous Hoa Lo Prison aka The Hanoi Hilton. Paul had spent quite a bit of time in South Vietnam covering the war as a correspondent for NBC back in the 60′s before settling for a much quieter job covering the Hawaiian Islands. Prior to his last 22 years in Hawaii, Paul held news anchor, reporter and news director jobs from Los Angeles in the late 50′s to New York, Indianapolis, Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco. Here’s a video of Paul at ABC’s Chicago affiliate WLS-TV doing a news broadcast in 1981. Paul, you look at least 20 years younger today.
The Hanoi Hilton brochure included full color photos and English text describing the period when the Vietnamese were imprisoned and tortured by the French. They’ve actually turned the place into a museum. Of course, the brochure made no mention of the torture inflicted on American POW’s in the 1960′s and 70′s by the North Vietnamese. I guess Gary figured I’d be interested since I’d spent some 14 months in the US Army a few hundred miles to the south of Hanoi back in 1969-70. I think I’ll take a pass on the prison tour.
What the brochure did however, was to trigger thoughts about John McCain and the upcoming election. The nearly 72 year old McCain, through no fault of his own, was out of touch with the world for 6 long years between 1967 and 1973 when he was a POW at the Hanoi Hilton. In my opinion, this was one of the most pivotal periods in American history. He plain missed it! While I’m sure he’s read the history books and I know that he’s a very experienced Senator, it just bothers me that he wasn’t here during the counterculture/social revolution that was tearing the US apart in the late 60′s and early 70′s.
Has he failed to learn the lessons so badly needed to be learned at that time? The little things like honesty and integrity that should be a standard requirement for all our leaders. Ted Stevens surely missed it; and he had no excuse. Oh, and John, how about the futility of war? I sure hope you got that lesson.