At the height of the Vietnam War, when thousands of young men his age were being killed in a pointless and tragic conflict, Willard was enjoying the first of his deferments — in France. That makes his remarks today about Memorial Day all the more jarring.

“As we observe Memorial Day, we owe thanks to the many Americans who have fought and died to defend our country,” Romney said. “Those patriots who are on the battlefields today or have gone to battlefields in the past, some never to return, have left us a stronger country, a great nation that, whatever its divisions, shines as a beacon of liberty before the peoples of the world.”

I think very few historians would agree that losing nearly 60,000 troops in Vietnam, while killing over a million North Vietnamese made us a stronger country. Moreover, I doubt many analysts would conclude that taking 40,000 casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan and killing a couple hundred thousand Iraqis and Afghanis over the past decade have left us stronger, either. (It should be noted that none of Willard’s five sons served in Iraq or Afghanistan.)

Anyway, the perverse notion that all wars in which American soldiers die are good and make us stronger is simply refuted on its face. And someone who intentionally avoided serving in one of America’s bloodiest mistakes — and whose sons did the same a generation later — should know that.