JOHN KERRY DELIVERING HIS TESTIMONY
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE
On the Vietnam War
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It follows the full text transcript of
John Kerry's Testimony, his speech delivered
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington
D.C. — April 22, 1971.
This is page 1 of 2 of John Kerry's speech. Go to
RELATING TO THE WAR IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
The committee met,
pursuant to notice, at 11:05 a.m., in Room 4221,
New Senate Office Building, Senator J. W.
Fulbright (Chairman) presiding.
Fulbright, Symington, Pell, Aiken, Case, and
The CHAIRMAN. The
committee will come to order.
The committee is
continuing this morning its hearings on
proposals relating to the ending of the war in
Southeast Asia. This morning the committee will
hear testimony from Mr. John Kerry, and, if he
has any associates, we will be glad to hear from
them. These are men who have fought in this
unfortunate war in Vietnam. I believe they
deserve to be heard and listened to by the
Congress and by the officials in the executive
branch and by the public generally. You have a
perspective that those in the Government who
make our Nation's policy do not always have and
I am sure that your testimony today will be
helpful to the committee in its consideration of
the proposals before us.
I would like to
add simply on my own account that I regret very
much the action of the Supreme Court in denying
the veterans the right to use the Mall.
I regret that. It
seems to me to be but another instance of an
insensitivity of our Government to the tragic
effects of this war upon our people.
I want also to
congratulate Mr. Kerry, you, and your associates
upon the restraint that you have shown,
certainly in the hearing the other day when
there were a great many of your people here. I
think you conducted yourselves in a most
commendable manner throughout this week.
Whenever people gather there is always a
tendency for some of the more emotional ones to
do things which are even against their own
interests. I think you deserve much of the
credit because I understand you are one of the
leaders of this group.
I have joined with
some of my colleagues, specifically Senator
Hart, in an effort to try to change the attitude
of our Government toward your efforts in
bringing to this committee and to the country
your views about the war.
I personally don't
know of any group which would have both a
greater justification for doing it and also a
more accurate view of the effect of the war. As
you know, there has grown up in this town a
feeling that it is extremely difficult to get
accurate information about the war and I don't
know a better source than you and your
associates. So we are very pleased to have you
and your associates, Mr. Kerry.
At the beginning
if you would give to the reporter your full name
and a brief biography so that the record will
show who you are.
Mr. Chairman, I was down there to the veterans'
camp yesterday and saw the New York group and I
would like to say I am very proud of the
deportment and general attitude of the group.
I hope it
continues. I have joined in the Hart resolution,
too. As a lawyer I hope you will find it
possible to comply with the order even though,
like the chairman, I am unhappy about it. I
think it is our job to see that you are suitably
set up as an alternative so that you can do what
you came here to do. I welcome the fact that you
came and what you are doing. [Applause.]
The CHAIRMAN. You
may proceed, Mr. Kerry.
STATEMENT OF JOHN KERRY, VIETNAM VETERANS
AGAINST THE WAR
Mr. KERRY. Thank
you very much, Senator Fulbright, Senator Javits,
Senator Symington, Senator Pell. I would like to
say for the record, and also for the men behind
me who are also wearing the uniforms and their
medals, that my sitting here is really symbolic.
I am not here as John Kerry. I am here as one
member of the group of 1,000, which is a small
representation of a very much larger group of
veterans in this country, and were it possible
for all of them to sit at this table they would
be here and have the same kind of testimony.
I would simply
like to speak in very general terms. I apologize
if my statement is general because I received
notification yesterday you would hear me and I
am afraid because of the injunction I was up
most of the night and haven't had a great deal
of chance to prepare.
I would like to
talk, representing all those veterans, and say
that several months ago in Detroit, we had an
investigation at which over 150 honorably
discharged and many very highly decorated
veterans testified to war crimes committed in
Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but
crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the
full awareness of officers at all levels of
It is impossible
to describe to you exactly what did happen in
Detroit, the emotions in the room, the feelings
of the men who were reliving their experiences
in Vietnam, but they did. They relived the
absolute horror of what this country, in a
sense, made them do.
They told the
stories at times they had personally raped, cut
off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from
portable telephones to human genitals and turned
up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies,
randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in
fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle
and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and
generally ravaged the countryside of South
Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war,
and the normal and very particular ravaging
which is done by the applied bombing power of
We call this
investigation the "Winter Soldier
Investigation." The term "Winter Soldier" is a
play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he
spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime
soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because
the going was rough.
We who have come
here to Washington have come here because we
feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could
come back to this country; we could be quiet; we
could hold our silence; we could not tell what
went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what
threatens this country, the fact that the crimes
threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the
crimes which we are committing that threaten it,
that we have to speak out.
FEELINGS OF MEN
COMING BACK FROM VIETNAM
I would like to
talk to you a little bit about what the result
is of the feelings these men carry with them
after coming back