When President Obama announced former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as his pick for Defense Secretary, he said, “Perhaps most importantly, Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction.” Hagel’s perspective of war was molded by his experience in Vietnam, where he spent a year in combat during the brutal Tet Offensive. He received two Purple Hearts–injured first while saving his brother’s life, and then again when his brother saved his life.
In the above clip, from an interview Senator Hagel did with the Library of Congress in 2002, he talks about how his military service shaped his outlook as a Senator:
“And probably most fundamental for me as a United States senator, when we talk of going to war again Iraq or against anyone, we need to think it through carefully, not just for the political and the geopolitical and the diplomatic and the economic consequences–and those are important. But at least for me, this old infantry sergeant thinks about when I was in Vietnam in 1968, United States senators making decisions that affected my life and a lot of people who lost their lives, that they didn’t have–I didn’t have anything to say about. Someone needs to represent that perspective in our government as well. The people in Washington make the policy, but it’s the little guys who come back in the body bags.”