Tag Archives: POW

POW-MIA. Not forgotten or forgiven.


The POW-MIA flag used to represent a renegade popular sentiment that our military wasn’t taking seriously the American soldiers left behind in Vietnam. Now the same flag flies from the flapoles of federal buildings like VA facilities. I think the cultural fixation on foresaken warriors is a Freudian reflection of our nation’s moral conscience. Indead our better self is a Prisoner Of War. Likewise Missing In Action. America you ARE forgotten, and I’ll add not forgiven.

Spank a Vet with a warm fuzzy Attaboy

For those who think that the Peace people dishonor the veterans, think a bit on what the most prominent campaigns has to offer in the way of humiliation. One of the “new and improved” corporate motivational methods is called “peer recognition” because research showed that workers don’t want to actually be, you know, adequately paid for our labor which enriches our bosses and impoverishes us. No, we want the empowerment of “recognition” for our good deeds. Say (and this happens far too often to be hypothetical) you have an innovation that saves your company many times your annual salary. What does the boss do to reward you?
 
First he patents your innovation and declares it corporate intellectual property, then gives you an award ceremony where he more or less pats your head and tells you “Attaboy!” which those English speakers who own dogs might recognize. There’s even an award letter, usually hand-written by your supervisor, saying “Attaboy!” and sometimes a Warm Fuzzy, which is a recognition pin that looks kind of like a piece of pocket lint or a dust-bunny from under a desk. How special, right? Your peers get to recognize that your contribution made the boss wealthier and as a reward you get treated like a dog in front of God and everybody. In the Military, the ultimate enforcement arm of the Corporate Empire, you get something called a “medal” or a “service ribbon” and there’s even a medal for not getting arrested for a year. Seriously.

This type of manipulative behavior is as old as the idea of organized military. A pay and benefits raise would be a lot more meaningful than a piece of brass or maybe silver with a recycling value of maybe a buck. But gosh darn it, that would be Too Expensive. So the Corporates, the sole beneficiaries of Military Action, get to go even further with the “Thank A Vet” campaign, they get their publicly subsidized (corporate welfare) non-employees to do a really dangerous job, people who are being robbed of THEIR essential rights and freedoms in the name of making Americans (or at least their corporate owners) Free (to take all the resources of the subjugated nations and kill anybody who resists) tend to fight back. Throw airplanes at “our” buildings and such.

Add in that the equipment the military uses, at great public expense and huge private profits to the Corporates, is usually dangerous in itself. Take Depleted Uranium, (please) which makes a steel shell more massive in less space. Those of you who understand ballistics would appreciate that and those who don’t, study it. It’s simple Newtonian physics. With a titanium tip and an explosive charge it can go through any armor. “Terror” groups who are targeted by, say, American or British tanks realize this and if they can obtain an intact round (one that didn’t get smashed or exploded) will re-load it and send it back. The uranium, the heaviest naturally occurring element, has value especially in small pieces to be used in a “dirty bomb”. (The Corporates, natural born and then trained Terrorists themselves, unleash “dirty bombs” on Americans every damn day, witness the Toxic Waste Dump “Gold Hill Mesa” being sold as median priced McMansion real estate right here on the West Side of Colorado Springs.)

It’s also poisonous in the same way that mercury, lead and white arsenic are poisonous. A whole list of metals heavier than iron in fact.

Instead of paying the soldiers who contracted DU poisoning in the past few wars, the Publicly Funded enforcement arm of the Corporates, the Pentagon, denounced them as frauds, malingerers and punished them.

Thanks, Vet!

The same with Agent Orange. The Army investigators and lawyers (in Colorado that’s pronounced “liars”, true story) said something really scary about that, and it’s scary because it’s true. “The Military uses a vast array of chemicals to maintain the ‘safety’ of the bases” and coupled that with the truly chilling “there’s no significant difference between those exposed to Agent Orange and those soldiers who were not, in relation to cancers.”

True. Agent Orange is a weed killer, on base they can’t afford to have high brush, grass, weeds and trees. So they poison them. They also can’t have animals wandering around, snakes, the rodents on which the snakes feed, skunks, foxes, cats, dogs, or the local equivalents Bugs too. And of course birds. A bird being hit by an aircraft can seriously ruin the day for the pilot. And cost the Corporate Overlords a pretty penny for each (not really, the Corporates who gain the most from Military Action pay the least taxes, it’s the Taxpayers who pay).

And that parenthetical statement says a lot…

See, the “Thank A Vet” campaign, much lauded as Corporate Generosity, there’s a reason Corporate gift-giving is so well documented.

Because they don’t actually “give” the money or services. They deduct them from their taxes. Then do like they did in August and whine, snivel and wring their hands over the Deficit.

The “Thank A Vet” program, the “You are not forgotten” POW flags that line the pockets of Ross Perot and his butt-buddies like John McCain, publicly funded, most of them double-dipped public funds because they’re sold to municipalities. Can you think of a single government building that isn’t flying one of those retarded flags? And it’s based on a lie too, the Hanoi government turned over all the prisoners of war they were holding back in 1975. Notwithstanding all the Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claud van Damm, Sylvester Stallone and other non-veterans-who-portray-soldiers-in-the-proud-tradition-of-Ronald Reagan-George Bush-and-John Wayne making a lot of money providing the propaganda that sells the flags.

Speaking of “double dipping” and George Bush, as in Bush the Elder, when he attained the presidency he ended “double dipping” meaning getting both CHAMPUS and Medicare benefits. Way to Thank A Vet, George!
My grandfather who had recently passed away had told me that I should have stayed in for the full twenty years because the Military would take good care of me in my old age. Yeah, right.

His widow, my Grandma, died penniless in a nursing home, her Social Security and Medicare benefits signed over to the home. Way To Thank A Vet, Reaganite Sucks!

The current wrangling over whether or not the Workers who EARNED the benefits of Social Security, SSI, Medicaid, etc… should actually receive them, with the theme that only the Rich deserve or even need to have leisure, discretionary income, health care, all the goodies that separate the industrialized world from the Third World… and the rest of us only need a warm fuzzy Attaboy!

George Bush the Chimpleton, by the way, actually went one step further in demeaning the people we’re supposed to pat on the head and tell them “Good Boy! Who’s a good boy? You’re a good boy, yes you are!”

He actually rubbed the head of a double amputee veteran in a photo-opportunity propaganda session at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The veteran was a Black man as well, the racist connotations of rubbing the head of a black person are well known, but it’s so God-damn Plantation Ignorant that even people in TEXAS don’t do it.

Keep your thanks, I’d rather have the money due me. I didn’t stay in the military long enough to get anything but a free grave when I die, but my very poorly paid service to the Corporations in the private “workforce” (they don’t even call us Human Resources anymore, how’s that for recognition?) wherein they tore my right foot half off while taking 5 times what they paid me, that in itself earns entitlements Due Wages. Just, you know, I realize I ain’t going to be paid.

Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

You have forgotten what to remember

You are not forgottenCan someone please explain to me what it means to fly this flag? The POW-MIA flag is ubiquitous these days around veterans. Our town hall flies this black flag halfway below the Stars and Stripes. When the latter is at half mast, the former hangs indecorously low. Which reminds me of a pirate ship stalking a wavering Old Glory.
 
I understand POW and MIA, and “you are not forgotten.” But there is no flag for the veterans, the dead or wounded, to whom does this lone flag speak and why?

Since the Gulf War, the US military maintains that it loses track of none of its soldiers. We’ve had POWs but they’ve been returned, and we’ve had MIAs whose bodies have been found. One was recovered even recently, though it was the body of a pilot lost over Iraq, understood to have died. Casualties at sea are still sometimes unrecoverable, but at least something about American war-making proficiency now permits us to confirm deaths even sans corpus. Supposedly.

US military engagements between those wars, and later, have been kept outside public scrutiny, or not officially admitted. As a result, they’ve added no POWs or MIAs for the home front to worry over.

Which leaves Vietnam, from whose era comes the dark silhouette of a bent inmate in the shadow of a prison guard tower. According to the last report, there remain 1728 American soldiers missing in action in Indochina. They are unaccounted for — it might be more fair to say–not missing persons, expected to turn up.

During the Vietnam War, the MIA list gave hope that your soldier wasn’t among the fallen. It was a hope that loved ones could cling to for even years after the fall of Siagon. On the radio, a Dick Curless hit from 1965 continued to resonate even as the war receded from memory. “Six Times a Day” told of a bride in post-WWII Germany who met the trains every day, awaiting the return of her German soldier, held by the Soviets in war-reparation labor camps until the Russians considered them to have atoned. Was this what we expected Vietnam was doing?

Six times a day the trains came down from Frankfort
The night he came ten years were almost through
She held him close and said I knew you’d be here
He said I had no doubt you’d be here too

American wives were determined to wait even longer, except evidence of post-war prisoners never came. There was speculation of a cover-up, suspicions which politicians like John Kerry and John McCain do little to assuage. After the war, some believe that prisoner GIs were left behind, whom the North Vietnamese hoped to exchange for war reparations. Instead of paying, it’s conjectured that the US government chose to deny the existence of those men. No American diplomat has ever confirmed the scenario, and no surviving GI has ever surfaced.

The closest we’ve come to rescuing POWs was at the movies, when Rambo went back for a jailbreak and to do-over America’s lost war.

Even as the rumor persisted, the fate of the abandoned POWs is assumed to have been execution at the hands of their former foe, presumed so exasperated and bitter. The general consensus today, no matter the theory, is that no veteran is anticipated to step alive from the sad lists of the Vietnam MIA.

If they are presumed dead, then what separates an MIA from the dead, who we honor together with all veterans? The Vietnam MIA have been added to the Vietnam Memorial. How now is their memory any different?

Even recently I’ve seen relatives of those MIA conduct special ceremonies on Memorial Day, with the empty place setting, the chair, the vase and rose, etc. It looks to me as though the family members have even passed the ritual down to grandchildren who would not even have know the missing soldier. But this ceremony isn’t conducted for the regular dead, who are also missing from the family table, it’s reserved for the missing dead. And so I wonder at the distinction.

MIAs represent casualties who fell off the books. If a soldier’s capture is confirmed, his status changes to POW, otherwise soldiers come up missing through desertion, treason, malfeasance, or physical obliteration. Mother nature can dispose of bodies, but the most common cause of disappearance is owed to the inhuman scale of mechanized war. As weapons grew more powerful, physical bodies more frequently disintegrated. Missing bodies today, even looking back retrospectively, are the result of human beings eclipsed by machine violence. In the engagements America has chosen from Vietnam onward, usually the technology for the big violence is our side’s alone. Which is not to implicate friendly fire. Often USAF air strikes are called in over battlefields strewn already with GI fatalities.

At first the act of flying a POW flag was aimed at the Vietnamese, to remind all around us, with a sideways glance at our enemies, of our concern for our soldiers. Perhaps the MIA component was an urging to Vietnam as well, after the war, to put effort into recovering US soldier remains. Over the decades, I’m not sure that Vietnam could have shown itself more cooperative. If archeological digs are today able to unearth more evidence, it’s not because the Vietnamese weren’t trying.

Who today are we addressing with the POW-MIA flags? I see these flags usually paired with the Red, White and Blue. But those are directed at our foes.

If a soldier’s relation has question to suspect their soldier is an MIA, isn’t that a beef to take up with the US military? The POW-MIA flag seems to say, we don’t trust you, don’t lie to us about our boys in uniform. We don’t want you smashing their bodies to smithereens, or leaving them behind and not telling us. The POW-MIA flag is a renegade message which says: we support the troops, but not their mission. Give them back.

Flying the POW-MIA flag is so unpatriotic, it’s patriotic.