NEW YORK – Convention-goers were handed bandages with purple hearts on them Monday night by a GOP delegate in a swipe at Democratic nominee John Kerry's (search) war record.
The bandages were handed out by Morton Blackwell, a longtime GOP activist from Virginia, with the message: "It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it."
Kerry won three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a bronze star for his service in the Vietnam War. A group calling itself Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (search) has been attacking Kerry as a liar through campaign ads and media interviews, but Kerry's wartime experiences have been backed by crewmates and official records.
"It is inexcusable for a delegate to mock anyone who has ever put on a soldier's uniform," said Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search). "It is inexcusable to mock service and sacrifice."
Blackwell said he has heard reports that Kerry's wounds were self-inflicted, and said Vietnam veterans have every right to be angry about comments Kerry made after returning to this country and protested the war. He prepared 300 of the purple heart bandages to hand out, and said he had given out about 230 by late Monday, though few were evident on the convention floor.
"Kerry raised this issue himself," said Blackwell, who was wearing one of the bandages on his forehead. "Their convention was all about Vietnam. It's legitimate to discuss this."