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Harold B. Estes Letter to Obama

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Emailed letter attributed to 95-year-old World War II Navy veteran Harold B. Estes lambastes President Obama for 'telling our friends & enemies despicable lies' and advises him to 'shape up and start acting like an American.'

Description: Forwarded email
Circulating since: Nov. 2009
Status: Authentic (see details below)

Email text contributed by an AOL user, Nov. 25, 2009:

Fwd: "Old Salt" Hits Home Run

WW II Battleship sailor tells Obama to shape up or ship out!

This venerable & much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii for his 70-plus years of service to patriotic organizations & causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a gov't official -- until now. He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.


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 & 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? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British? Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War? I hope you didn't mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas 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.

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.

Harold B. Estes

Analysis: Chief Boatswain's Mate Harold B. Estes, USN (Ret.) is a real person residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, who did indeed turn 95 years old in December 2009.

He is also the confirmed author of the above letter, or the earliest version of it, at any rate. According to Rick Terwilliger, Estes' longtime friend and publisher of Fore n' Aft Magazine, the original was dictated by Estes (whose eyesight is poor), signed by him, and mailed to the White House, as well as a list of about 50 other handpicked recipients in November 2009.

Thanks, presumably, to one or more of those original addressees, Estes' letter has since been published on scores of blogs and online message boards, and gone "viral" in the form of the email text reproduced above.

(UPDATE: Harold B. Estes died on May 17, 2011.)

'Despicable lies' or misquotes?

While it's Mr. Estes' right as an American to upbraid his President, it bears pointing out that in this letter he has done so largely on the basis of misquotes. Let's take a closer look at Obama's so-called "despicable lies":

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