Transcript: Kerry on Swift Boats, Ad Flap

Following are remarks by Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on the independent campaign being waged against him that questions his service during and after the Vietnam War.

Speech to the International Association of Fire Fighters, Aug. 19

These are the values you live by, day in and day out, when you kiss your families goodbye, and head to the station – knowing full well that with the sound of an alarm, you might be called into harms way.  I know what that’s like.  And more than thirty years ago, I learned an important lesson—when you’re under attack, the best thing to do is turn your boat into the attacker. That’s what I intend to do today.

Over the last week or so, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn’t interested in the truth – and they’re not telling the truth. They didn’t even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here’s what you really need to know about them.  They’re funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They’re a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the President won’t denounce what they’re up to tells you everything you need to know—he wants them to do his dirty work.

Thirty years ago, official Navy reports documented my service in Vietnam and awarded me the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts. Thirty years ago, this was the plain truth. It still is. And I still carry the shrapnel in my leg from a wound in Vietnam.

As firefighters you risk your lives everyday. You know what it’s like to see the truth in the moment. You’re proud of what you’ve done—and so am I.

Of course, the President keeps telling people he would never question my service to our country. Instead, he watches as a Republican-funded attack group does just that. Well, if he wants to have a debate about our service in Vietnam, here is my answer: “Bring it on.”

I’m not going to let anyone question my commitment to defending America—then, now, or ever.  And I’m not going to let anyone attack the sacrifice and courage of the men who saw battle with me.

And let me make this commitment today:  their lies about my record will not stop me from fighting for jobs, health care, and our security – the issues that really matter to the American people.

The situation in Iraq is a mess. That is the President’s responsibility and he owes the American people an answer.

Remarks Before Anti-Defamation League, May 3

For ninety years, you have reminded us that good neighbors build strong communities. And for ninety years, you have shown that strong communities lead to a safer world.

I learned that lesson thirty five years ago while living in a different kind of neighborhood halfway across the world. In a small Swift Boat on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, I grew up with a band of brothers from all walks of life and every corner of America.

We learned many things on that boat, but above all, we learned that we weren't the kid from South Carolina, Iowa, Arkansas, California, or the kid from Massachusetts. Under the heat of fire and the fog of battle, color, religion, and background melted away.

Interview With CBS' "60 Minutes", Jan. 25

Q: How'd you get the Silver Star?

KERRY: You know, I got it surviving, I guess is the best way to put it. I think most people who walk around with medals in this country may be proud of the medals, and I am, but are much more, sort of, thoughtful and remembering of the people who didn't come home, who are really the heroes. And I just am not comfortable sort of going into the story.