Winter Soldier: John Kerry’s Turning Point
The Detroit Free Press has an interesting piece on the conference held in that city 33 years ago and its impact on the presumptive Democratic nominee.
That largely forgotten conference, called the Winter Soldier Investigation, has come under national scrutiny in recent weeks because one person who attended was a Navy veteran named John Kerry, then 27, who is now closing in on the Democratic nomination for president.
The painful stories Kerry heard at Third and West Grand Boulevard had a major impact on his life. For him, Winter Soldier proved to be a key event in his evolution from wounded war hero to antiwar protester.
“Detroit was the great eye-opener for John Kerry,” historian Douglas Brinkley, author of the 2004 Kerry war biography, “Tour of Duty,” said in a recent interview.
“It was a kind of intellectual turning point. It was a moment that helped jar him out of kind of a complacent antiwar protester to one that was on a mission to charge the Nixon administration with war crimes.”
Clean-shaven and wearing a collared shirt and slacks, Kerry did not fit in, his friends say. Indeed, two participants contacted by the Free Press said they never saw him in Detroit.
Brinkley wrote that Kerry stayed purposely low-key.
“While Kerry thought the U.S.-declared free fire zones, B52 bombing raids, defoliation campaigns, and search-and-destroy policies in Vietnam all morally reprehensible, he refused to mount a soapbox and detail atrocities he witnessed in the Mekong Delta at a forlorn motel,” Brinkley wrote in “Tour of Duty.”
“He was adverse to the cultivated sloppiness of professional peaceniks.”