With members of Congress facing so many consequential decisions, I am disheartened that few demonstrate a willingness to vote for the honorable thing.

In 1966, my father, Brig. Gen. Harrison Thyng, a distinguished ace in both World War II and Korea, was on the list to receive his coveted second star. But he was troubled by our involvement in Vietnam. After flying sorties in Vietnam, Dad’s assessment was that we did not belong in this conflict. He had a strategy for us to leave with honor.

Publicly he could not voice what he believed was the right thing to do. Six months short of receiving his second star, he resigned from the Air Force and returned to New Hampshire to run for the U.S. Senate.

Dad prevailed in a crowded primary, drawing large crowds to hear a military hero speak against the war in Vietnam. Someone asked him, “Do you think you will make a good politician?” Dad smiled. “No, I’d make a lousy politician, but I’d be a damn good statesman.” He lost the general election to a popular incumbent, yet his unusual courage captured national attention. When Dad died, his brief foray into politics was rewarded by a major newspaper’s headline, “We Should Have Listened.”

How I wish members of Congress today would have the courage to do the right thing. It was not easy to pass up a second star, nor can it be easy for lawmakers to risk losing an election. But now, just as then, sometimes losing with honor is more significant than winning.

Jean Flahive
South Portland


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