Valuable quotes

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~~

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you've already lost." ~~

Cree Prophecy - "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~~

Friday, May 25, 2007

How I spend my Memorial Days

Signe Wilkinson cartoon©
Another Memorial Day and remind me again what it is we are fighting for?

Y’know, I can recall when I was really small, both my grandfather and my uncle reminiscing about the wars they’d fought in. It was easy to see that the experience, even to that very day, had left them with a mix of feelings. Proud yes, but very sad at the loss of friends and others in their fleet and platoon. As they sifted through their old dog-eared photos, it was not unusual to see them wipe a tear away. My grandfather and his men fought to rid the world of fascism. Both he and my uncle were, at different times, a part of the Second World War and the Korean War.
Of course they justified it all by saying that it was the ‘price of freedom’.

On Memorial Day we would go to watch the parade, and us kids would wave our flags and watch the assorted politicians lay wreaths on the assorted monuments in front of the assorted dignitaries about the city. All very somber & not just a little heart-wrenching ceremonies as I thought about those noble men who had given their lives so that I could be safe in my home. Even as a preschooler I felt so indebted to these men who had done this, so I could live to grow up in a free world. Though I may not have understood everything I was honoring that day, I did have a vivid picture in my mind of a brave young soldier facing down an enemy and shooting him dead. I, like so many, justified this by saying it had to be that way – him or me - cost of peace – I’m surprised my visions didn't have a patriotic soundtrack to accompany them.

Fast forward to the mid 60's. Operation Rolling Thunder and Vietnam. More prices of peace paid there in Vietnam, as well as Cambodia, Iran, Lebanon, Grenada, El Salvador, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan and now again Iraq. Has anyone figured out yet why two million Americans had to partake in ‘Nam? Worse, more than 58,000 Americans and another 304,000 wounded – for what? Did any of those soldiers facing down “the enemy” have a gripe with the enemy? No. They had no quarrel with the people who were trying to kill them. Neither did the enemy for that matter, both sides being victim of patriotic rhetoric trotted out from their governing houses to the media and subsequently a population of listeners. In any of the war footage sent back, did you see the brave politicians fighting in the rice fields of Vietnam? And reported deaths – anyone hear of a lot of higher-up generals dying while in combat there?

Those soldiers were fighting and dying simply because powerful people who would never have to face death in battle told them it was their duty to die. And we all bow our heads and nod sagely. Maybe if we’d been able to see graphically what that ‘price was’. Not the romantic hoopla war movie, but the real deal? Maybe each evening when the news shows the loss of life in Iraq for that day, instead of showing a fresh young face all decked out in dress uniform, they should show a photo of the kid after he was killed. Maybe then people will have a real picture of the price extracted. And realize that real guns shatter people's skulls and spread their brains on the ground like seeping grey pudding, and the bullets rip their insides to shreds and leave them screaming for their Moms. Those war guns kill families and leave children fatherless or motherless, or a more long term injury - having to live with their visions and demons they bring back with them. Not a pretty picture, is it? The truth so many times isn't.

So here we are again today, fighting to save lives. Whose? Four years ago we were fed more war mongering fodder and told we had to send our guys back to war again because Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that posed a direct and immediate threat to our lives; to the peace and security of our country. Blah, blah. They’re coming to get us again so we have to get them first…blah, blah. Four years later, 3,200 more young Americans are dead, and 30,000 more have been wounded. I don't want to even think about the innocent lives lost in all of this muscle flexing. The "collateral damage" count.

We all know, if we’re honest with ourselves that is, that we went to war based on a lie. And now instead of saving more lives, Mr. Bush asks us to be patient; Congress diddles around over nonbinding resolutions and it seems once more there will be no end to this.

These soldiers in Iraq today are dying for the same reason the men and women in Vietnam did – arrogant government power brokers that are either too ignorant or too cowardly to separate the rhetoric of patriotism from the real essence of patriotism. Why should we really worry about terrorists taking American lives? Our own government is doing a bang-up job of that for us! Our soldiers die because of a Hollywood fantasy version of the ‘noble fight’ and it has been repeatedly trotted out to us by war mongering leaders. And on this Memorial Day we again honor those heroes who can’t be a part of it. They are no longer alive to share anything with us.

I think if we really want to honor our fallen heroes properly, we need to try a little harder to keep any more of them from falling in the first place. We might try to be less gullible and ready to believe classical oratory when politicians and generals tell us the next war is necessary. We might take a moment to consider that the ones who start these wars for peace are seldom the ones who take part in any of the killing - or any of the dying.

**I would also like to thank Signe Wilkinson for the use of her insightful cartoon.


Alex said...

Very well put, you have some great and valid points. I am currently in the military and I was part of the initial 'invasion' into Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division. I remember when I was first told I was going to Iraq I was filled with pride and a sense of duty. I felt we were all going over there for a very valid and REAL reason.

I returned from Iraq after 13 months away from my family.. 6 months later I got to repeat my experience for another 13 months..

My feelings about the Iraq war today are very different than what they were back then. I've lost and suffered as many did.

But you are absolutely right -- and most soldiers feel the same way, we are fighting a war for someone else, not the American people. I joined the military to serve our country, not to serve politicians special agendas.. These democrats really piss me off, they have all this talk about how they are going to end the war. If you ask me, we are there to stay.. We will never leave Iraq.. There's too much oil there.

The first thing we did when we entered that country was secure oil fields.. medical aid for Iraq's?? nah... we gotta protect that oil.. Tell me what does oil have to do with Weapons of Mass Destruction?


Ginger said...

Alex, thank you for your comments. Coming from one who has 'walked the walk', it means so much more. May I also add that I am very happy you are alive and here today making these comments. =)

I can't imagine myself being told that I was going to go to war, but like you, if I thought it was for the betterment of the world, mine as well as others, then I would go. This war doesn't seem to be covering any of that.

I feel sick for the soldiers who have gone under these pretexts and are still there today for what exactly? Away from their families and the safety of their country.
I feel sick too, for the families who live every day with the knowledge that the next phone call or knock on the door can change their lives irrevocably. This is not our war even tho' it may have been presented that way.

I don't pretend to be a war strategist, nor do I profess to know all the answers, but of one thing I'm certain. Like you, I think unless the American people band & demand, we will remain in Iraq for a long, long time & we will continue to lose lives for no clear & real reason.

Good to have you back. I hope you will stay now...?

For the consideration of family & friends...