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Harold Estes

Claim:   Letter from nonagenarian World War II veteran criticizes President Obama.

CORRECTLY ATTRIBUTED

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2009]

Dear President Obama,

My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year. People meeting me for the first time don't believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos'n Mate. Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.

One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.

So here goes.

I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.

I can't figure out what country you are the president of. You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:

  • "We're no longer a Christian nation"


  • "America is arrogant" - (Your wife even announced to the world, "America is mean-spirited." Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.)


  • I'd say shame on the both of you but I don't think you like America nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do for the obvious gifts this country has given you. To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.

    After 9/11 you said, "America hasn't lived up to her ideals." Which ones did you mean?

    1. Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British ?

    2. Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War?

    3. I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellahs I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around because we stand for freedom.

    4. I don't think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination. You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.

    Take a little advice from a very old geezer,young man. Shape up and start acting like an American. If you don't, I'll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue. You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their
    people like slaves.

    And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don't want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts who was putting up a fight? You don't mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don't want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.

    One more thing. I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life but you're the Commander-in-Chief now, son. Do your job. When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him. But if you're not in this fight to win, then get out. The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you're thinking of.

    You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.

    You're not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy. That's not our greatest threat. Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. And I sure as hell don't want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle.

    Sincerely,

    Harold B. Estes
     

    Origins:   Many readers originally encountered the above-reproduced letter to President Obama on the web site Congress.org, where it was published in November 2009 after being submitted to that site by someone in Florida who had received it via e-mail.

    The actual author of the letter was Hawaii resident Harold B. Estes, a long-serving veteran of the U.S. Navy who was pictured in the May 2005 issue of Fore 'n Aft magazine and for whom the BMC Harold Estes Leadership Award is named.

    The publisher of Fore 'n Aft kindly responded to our inquiry and provided confirmation that Harold Estes was indeed the author of this piece:
    Thank you for your note and this opportunity to personally vouch for that to which you refer. The letter is REAL and so is Harold Estes. A retired Master Chief Boatswains Mate, he dictated the letter to a secretary who printed it and Harold has signed it personally. I believe that in addition to the president, over 50 hard copies were mailed to various VIPs bearing his signature. Another personal and mutual friend showed me his copy! Thus, Harold is the author, a dear friend, a very well known Navy Leaguer and so please do mark this TRUE.
    Honolulu television station KITV also interviewed Harold Estes at his Hawaii home and verified that he wrote the letter attributed to him:
    A letter from a 95-year-old retired World War II sailor in Hawaii to President Barack Obama has stirred up attention on the Internet.

    Retired ship's Boatswain Harold Estes wrote the letter and someone in Florida sent it to Congress.org. The letter then bounced around different sites and people questioned whether it was real.

    Estes said he was unaware of the controversy he caused on the Internet.

    "I've never looked at anything on the Internet. I don't follow this. I didn't write this to get publicity," Estes said.
    Some later versions of the piece circulated via e-mail included a photograph of the author posing with Navy personnel:


    For those who question Harold Estes' status as Master Chief, a rank which was not created until after his retirement from the Navy, Fore 'n Aft notes in a profile of Estes that:
    In 2007, to recognize his many years of voluntary service as the Navy's goodwill ambassador in Hawaii, the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Admiral Gary Roughead, promoted Harold to the honorary rank of Pacific Fleet Command Master Chief. At age 93.
    Harold B. Estes passed away at the age of 96 in May 2011 and was interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

    Last updated:   26 December 2012

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    Sources:

        Vachon, Duane A.   "Hawaii Loses a Great Patriot."
        Hawaii Reporter.   23 May 2011.

        KITV-TV [Honolulu].   "HI Vet's Letter to Obama Stirs Internet."
        26 January 2010.