Tag Archives: Veterans

DO US soldiers know what they sign up for? Horror? Mass murder? Burn pits? PTSD. Disability. Homelessness. Viagra.

It was a crass thing for Trump to say to a recent war widow, but of course it’s also fundamentally said in praise of brave men. They knew what they signed up for. But do American soldiers know what they sign up for? Not just the risk, but the horror and culpability? Did Trump voters know what they signed up for? I’ll put it to you they did not.

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.

Wilfred Owen: Spring Offensive & PTSD

You won’t find a more haunting depiction of battle induced PTSD than the last two stanzas of Wilfred Owen’s Spring Offensive. You’ll be curious no doubt to double back on the setup: troops being marched to the frontline, the idyllic lull before battle, the unceremonious charge, and the moment a stealthy sprint turns to mayhem. The next stanza speculates about the fate of those who fall in battle: to bullets, to explosive shells, and to shrapnel. The last stanza is about the “too swift” survivors who “out-fiend” death to come through, and don’t want to, or can’t, talk about it.

Spring Offensive (April, 1917)

Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed, and, lying easy, were at ease
And, finding comfortable chests and knees,
Carelessly slept.
                          But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.

Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like the injected drug for their bones’ pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent line of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky’s mysterious glass.

Hour after hour they ponder the warm field—
And the far valley behind, where the buttercup
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up,
Where even the little brambles would not yield,
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing hands;
They breathe like trees unstirred.

Till like a cold gust thrilled the little word
At which each body and its soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste—
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun,—
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.

So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; earth set sudden cups
In thousands for their blood; and the green slope
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.

Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell’s upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world’s verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.

But what say such as from existence’ brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames—
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder—
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

Confederate flag still flies over Denver

DENVER, COLORADO- All eyes have been on South Carolina, Bree Newsome, and the White Supremacist rallies which have percolated since, but Colorado indignants could note that a Confederate battle flag does still fly over Denver. The historic Riverside Cemetery commemorates Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and notable Civil War anniversaries with flags honoring American soldiers. They don’t fly Old Glory over the Confederate vets and the manager assured me they don’t plan to dishonor the Rebels with a Union flag anytime soon. On the graveyard’s Northwest side, nearest to the Evans crypt there’s a cobblestone patch where the bricks are engraved with the names of Colorado veterans who served the Confederacy. Over the gathering is a flag pole which was dedicated in 2003. It’s a discrete affair visible to only visitors touring the cemetery’s historic tombstones or dog-walkers heading out to the Riverside’s wetland conservation area.

Iwo Jima, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Memorial Day

There appears to be no more popular symbol of American patriotism and resiliency than the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Do Americans think Mount Suribachi overlooked Pearl Harbor? (As if Hawaii in the mid-Pacific was even US manifest destiny). Of the USA’s far flung “possessions” Iwo Jima was not among them. As usual the US Marines were laying claim to lands of others, of the Japanese. It had as much to do with protecting our freedom as Montezuma and Tripoli.

Because you supported the troops, today we have to f-ck the police


If there’s a chant that unites protesters across America it is “FTP!” No matter the issue, from BLM to GMOs, excessive use of force by police against dissenting citizens is the common grievance. The UN has even condemned US human rights abuses, this time police violence and racial discrimination. Our emergant police state may be the business end of the New World Order, but its troubling conduct is directly traceable to US military rules of engagement. These violent cops are our vets!

Stuck with PTSD, no marketable skills, and a taste for blood, American soldiers are transitioning to law enforcement jobs where they’re already familiar with the militarized equipment and the shoot-to-kill MO. The irony of course is that many of America’s homeless are veterans who could not live with the acts they were made to do in Afghansitan and Iraq and elsewhere. Those that could are the cops beating them!

When American soldiers shot first and asked questions never, overseas, at vehicles or at civilians whose needs they did not understand, you shouted SUPPORT THE TROOPS. Now they’ve brought the war home with lethal force and indescriminate brutality. You asked for it, you got it.

WWII vet, age 92, finally diagnosed with PTSD why, because we care?

Sgt. Stanley Friedman, a 92 yr-old veteran of the WWII North African campaign, was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Pro bono lawyers couldn’t even verify his service records, but after sixty years of denying his claims, the VA has at last been forced to grant Friedman compensation. Is this really the result of crafty legal work, at long last, or of a PR climate now overrun by Big Pharma, whose PTSD drug market windfall needed a poster boy for the baby boomer set, the type of veteran Americans favor over those from less “good” wars?

Here’s another one for ANZAC Day…

So, it was on or just before ANZAC Day four years ago, the last veteran of Gallipoli died.   And I truly do get a bit sad and angry, betimes, when these guys are held up as a reason FOR more wars, more militarism, more police state bullshit.  Sometimes I choke when singing  Eric Bogle’s song, “The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. There were 2 sections of the song:
“I looked at the place, where me legs used to be” and “But as year follow year / More old men… disappear / Someday no one will march there at all.”

Which happened this February.  The last WWI Veteran, an English nurse who joined when she was 14.  Funny how such things run in cycles.  

When she was born, the “old men disappearing” were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars of which we in America got a teenie weenie bit part, not even onstage really, more like the orchestra pit.  We didn’t actually win, got a “mutual non-aggression pact” with the British, who among other “losses” they incurred, took a “beating” at Baltimore where they bombed the living Hell out of Fort McHenry, but didn’t actually capture it.  Burned Washington D.C. (Why is the White House white? Because after they almost burned it down it was repainted with the cheapest and only paint available) and a small expeditionary force didn’t take New Orleans at a time when it wouldn’t make a gnat’s eyebrow worth of difference because our part of the war was already over.  

Kind of like we only got our collective arse beat pink instead of shiny red.  A country song called “The Winner” from 1973 leaps to mind:

“But I left that person cursing, nursing
Seven broken bones
And he only broke… uh, THREE of mine.
Guess that makes me the Winner.”

Gee, we only got whooped a little so let’s make Songs out of it.  “The Star Spangled Banner” and “The Halls of Montezuma” have a lot in common there.

When those “victories” were accomplished, two other famous nurses were growing up, Clara Barton and Florence Nightingale. Women doctors?  Not in the “civilized” world, you betcha, Red Ryder.

They didn’t even allow women to work in hospitals, the only “nursing” they were allowed to do professionally involved renting their nipples to rich women who couldn’t be bothered to do it for their own kids.

Women in the military?  Ha to the Ha-Ha!!  They were “allowing” children into the Army, hanging kids for petty theft, too… long before they accepted women in any kind of uniform.  In fact, on “Haunted London” tours you get the story of a ghost at Old Bailey who was hanged in 1911, when SHE was 8.

For those who are actually counting, Bravo!! and those who dropped out in 2nd grade, for you I’ll do the math.  The nurse who just left our Vale of Tears was 11 in 1911, and three years later she enlisted unless I’m doing the math wrong.  They started enlisting women as nurses primarily because they were using the men in important jobs like collecting bullets and shell fragments.

After the war, women could still be imprisoned, hanged and beaten to death by their husbands, but couldn’t vote or own property, so you didn’t actually come a long way, baby.

The biggest gain, allegedly, for any group has been for some reason being accepted as cannon fodder.

There is an awfully twisted logic to that.  “Congratulations, you got the job!!  Which by the way involves YOU being killed by someone who has been honored with THE SAME JOB.”  Luck, that is.

In one made-for-TV movie from the 80s, Cicely Tyson had this really cool line, about the Army being integrated across the “color” barrier..  “Oh, Lord! They fond found out we make good soldiers!”

Now they’re saying that it’s a major milestone that gay People can openly serve in the military.  Great big whoop-di-diddly-do. Here I was thinkin’ to myself, what would be a REAL major milestone would be to, you know, NOT kill people who are historically marginalized groups.  Or anybody else.

Just, you know, sayin’.  But what really brings it back around to ANZAC is this was the first time Australian and New Zealand soldiers were allowed to serve under Australian and New Zealand officers.  Yippee for everybody!!

From another Bogle song “Green Fields O’ France”:

“Well the sorrow, the suffring’, the glory and pain
The killin’ a’ dying was all done in vain.
For Young Willie MacBride it all happened again
And again, and again, and again.

Those who scorn weeping for the dead, are those who lack the courage to morn or to love.

Those who mock as madness peace, are those who have taken the coward’s path, killing their own souls rather than face their insane fear of seeing anyone as their brother.

There is no glory in war.  Never was.  Especially obvious now when “our” country government is preparing to invade have other people invade yet another country, following the P.N.A.C. agenda plan two decades ago to economically dominate the world for the ben’mefit of the very few.  They also said boasted they would be able to get enough Americans to back their plans, even surrender their liberties, using simple lies, like the WMD lie they’re recycling for the Iran war.

And that American people are way too stupid to doubt a lie even when we’ve been told in advance and by the exact same liars, that they’re going to do so.  

Funnier still, (I’m laughing so hard it looks like I’m just staring in disbelief at the morons, Ok, for those incapable of understanding sarcasm, no I’m not laughing, but AM staring in disbelief) Winston Churchill and some of his fellow Demon Span had issued a similar agenda, to liberate the Persian and Arabian oil fields for the Crown Corporation which is now called British Petroleum.  “Liberate” them from the iron grip of the Turks using as pawns the French, Jews, Persians, India and the Australia-New Zealand Auxiliary Corps, IN 1915.

Under the command of Sir Winston Churchill, whose first order of business (after igniting a war by having an Austrian cousin of the British King assassinated in Turkish ruled Sarajevo, Serbia) was to take the Turkish Dardanelles, at Gallipoli, on Suvla Bay.  

“Johnny Turk, he was waitin’, aye, he’d primed himself well
They rained us with bullets, an’ shot us with shells
And in Five minutes flat they blew us all to Hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia.”

Churchill resigned his command and took a commission as a field officer on the Green Fields o’ France.  Maybe he should have enlisted as a private.  Guess not.  Aristocrats aren’t supposed to be cannon fodder, that’s what peasants are for, eh wot?

Ah, well…

Could have/Should have/What ifs and such are parlor games which are now revived via computers.  One scenario suggested that if Alexander the Great had been hit one inch to the left by a Persian battle axe, early in his conquests, his bodyguard wouldn’t have been able to save him.  His empire and subsequently the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the Etruscan civilization, Carthage and Rome might not have arisen and Jesus would have just been a street preacher in a dusty backwater of the Persian Empire.

My favorite is one Senator Al Franken wrote for SNL back before it was just initials, “What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?”, which ended up as no difference.  “What if Superman had landed in Germany instead of Kansas?”, the allies would have developed the Kryptonite ray, no difference.  The one they had lined up next was “What if Custer had a Sherman Tank?”, but they didn’t keep it going.

What if Churchill had been killed?  What if the ANZACs had mutinied? But my mom taught me a saying about IF: “If a frog had wings he wouldn’t bump his rump with every jump.”

Frogs don’t fly, the War went forth with so many “oopsie” moments the Crown went bankrupt, Every Soldier has not died, and War has ground on every stinking day since. 

Aye, Willie MacBride, I can’t help but ask “Why?”  Or did those who died here know why they died?

“for the sorrow, the sufferin’, the glory, the pain
The killing and dying was all done in vain.
For Young Willie MacBride, it all happened again
and again, and again, and again.”

“Did they beat the drum slowly?
Did they play the fife lowly?
Did they sound the death march as they lower ye down?
And did the bank play “The Last Post” in chorus? 
And did the pipes play “The Flow’rs o’ the Forest?”

This will be the first ANZAC Parade with absolutely none of the Great War veterans attending or watching.  In May, it will be our first memorial day and come November, Armistice Day will have lost its last feeble grip on reality.  9-11 lost it on or about 9-10-01, but that’s another story.

The theme keeps going, rambling, but still making an order of magnitude more sense than the ongoing rambling war.

Another battle looming for the Very Rich vs. Very Poor?

The Gag-zette, our local Right Wing Extremist “newspaper” ran a fluff piece as a headline Sunday. Saying that draconian laws forbidding poverty to be seen within the walls of Emerald City had “positive results”. Translation: The Rich Bitches are about to sick the Colorado Springs and El Paso County Gestapo departments on anybody who even looks poor.

Much like the Racist Border Patrol and their even more Reactionary Hatemonger Klan Auxiliary the Minutemen have given themselves the license to beat down anybody who dares to go around “looking Mex”.

The Anti-Working Class laws like the Homeless Camping Ordinance are applauded by our Cheerleaders for the Rich Bitch Masters like Michelle Malkin and Tom Tancredo and Dan Maes. Maes and Tancredo are running for Governor on the Racist Hate Platform. Good news, though, the annual Stand-Down which is specifically targeted toward homeless PEOPLE who are also military veterans. A huge proportion of the people who are without adequate shelter in fact. Something the Reich Wing won’t tell anybody because they’re still trying to convince young kids that joining the Army is actually a fast track to success. Local number for Coordinators October 14, 2010 Colorado Springs, CO Jack Freeman 719-667-5588

And that link points the same way this one does, to a VA website with some good info on a nationwide basis. You’ll have to scroll down to September and go from there, it’s for all of 2010.

SOME OF THE THINGS I’D RECOMMEND DONATING, ASIDE FROM TIME AND EDUCATION:

New socks.

There are hand-warmers which activate by contact with air, HotHands is one brand, ToastyToes… They could be a lifesaver and cost about a buck per package.

Liquid soap. A lot better than bar soap for the backpack.

“3 man” tents. Actually, 1 person and a dog tents but that’s how they’re sold, $20 apiece brand new and scaff up as many as possible from the ARC, Goodwill, DAV, whatever thrift stores. If you’re going to donate used equipment of any kind, clean it first.

Sleeping bags. Same scenario.

There are insulating windshield stretch-across thingies <–esoteric engineering term there and if you didn’t understand obviously you’re not an engineer. They’re specifically designed to shade your car interior on very sunny days so your seat doesn’t burn your butt when you get in. They’re also packaged as survival blankets and they charge about 10-20 times more depending on where you buy them. God never told us to be stupid so go to like Dollar Tree and scaff up as many of those as possible. Two of them would cost, at a dollar apiece, working working working oh yeah $2.14 (sales tax you know) and combined with a blanket makes a sleeping bag bedroll that will save your important parts, in case of extreme cold.

Which we actually HAVE extreme cold in Colorado.

Canned Heat. Aka Sterno. If you buy it AGAIN, ignoring labeling, what it is, wood alcohol suspended in paraffin, buying the label could cost you more so look in Dollar stores in Party Supplies, they’re used to keep pans of food hot. One of those, a can of water and something blocking the wind makes an excellent radiant steam heater. At the Dollar Tree type stores you get two for a buck.

Camping supplies, I’m wondering if the Shitty Hall types would consider that "aiding and abetting" people violating the Camping ordinances. In that case though, they’d have to prosecute WalMart and Big 5 and other stores which sell them new for about a day’s wages.

It would be about the kindest and most meaningful way to give help to those who need it, meanwhile (politely) giving the upraised middle finger to the Fascists, who really need THAT. Actually they need it inserted up to the elbow but that’s another story.

GI quadruple amputee’s hobby: guns. Army needs a prosthetic for PTSD.

Wounded Army Specialist Brendan Marrocco was this weekend’s NYT front page testimonial to the resilience of US soldiers. The VA is finally acknowledging amputee-counts apparently, so we now learn that 988 veterans have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Specialist Marrocco lost all four, but is learning to get around. He can walk for stints of up to 15-minutes, and his favorite pastime? Shooting guns.

Army Career “opportunities”

We’ve seen the ads, “Join the Military and get job training that employers want”.. yeah right. One of my friends in El Paso was at the time a Scout for the Third Herd, 3rd Armored Cavalry. Stationed at Ft Bliss but spent most of his time (between the constant wars in which America has been engaged, unofficially) in this patch of Hell called MacGregor Range sandwiched between the limits of Ft Bliss, Biggs Army Air Field, White Sands Missile Range and Holloman AFB. His take on it was the job opportunities using his training would be either working as a cop or a hitman. (Personal aside, I don’t make any distinction at all between the two jobs.)
A double-digit percentage of the unemployed in Colorado are veterans. That’s about twice the percentage of the population who are veterans. The TeeVee college ads, trade schools actually, because the Wealthiest don’t want to spring for a real academic education, they want to keep us firmly planted in the Servant Class, make promises to recently discharged Veterans that strongly echo the lies of the Military Recruiters. “get training the employers are looking for”.
You know, it would be a Hell of a lot easier for you to Skip The Army Bullshit and just go to college or trade school without their help.
That way you don’t have to Kill and possibly Die for the benefit of the very richest. Let them send their own sons and daughters into the fight. Like Bush, Cheney, Romney, the entire Limbaugh Family, all of them DIDN’T serve “our country” and they don’t send THEIR nasty little piglets into the fray either.

The Bush Twins actually went on a speaking tour Campaigning for their Coward Little Daddy but disguised as Promoting the Military Service as a “career opportunity”. Essentially told high school kids to drop out from education and join the Killing Machine.

Advice neither they nor the scions of their Fathers Accomplices took.

Nor did their father or any of his accomplices. (Pretending to be a Fighter Pilot doesn’t count, everybody ELSE who had the word “combat” in his MOS at the time got sent to VietNam, save for a very few, very privileged scions of the very rich… like GW)

Face it, kids, you really DON’T owe it to America to join the Army. The United States has been in constant wars since the end of World War 2 and has not actually had a congressional declaration of war since December 8, 1941.

Nor have ANY of those wars actually been about American or anybody else’s “freedom”. To the veterans of those wars, there’s two different sides to that. The one told to you by the Government, saying how much they love and respect you.

And those of us who actually respect you, America and ourselves enough to Not Tell You Those Lies.

It’s a hideous thought that your time and the killing in which you participated, and the lives of your comrades, was exactly that meaningless… that the blood shed and destruction wrought was merely to fill the pockets of the Richest Bastards on earth, and who themselves declined to fight for their own wealth.

But that’s how it is, bubba. That’s how it is.
Rather than get all outraged about somebody telling you the Truth, why not focus that rage on the Sons-of-bitches who sent you into that using Lies, and pat you on the head every Veterans Day and any other War-related Holidays?

Which are the majority of state and federal “holidays”.

I should point out that Holiday is an English merger of the two words Holy Day. There’s nothing Holy about War.

The Military is just an extension of the Servant Class who are used by the Wealthiest at their convenience. Like the Rich who say they gained their money without exploiting their workers.
In their eyes we’re all disposable, allowed to live as long as we make them their money.

It’s the very core of Capitalism.

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.

Last veteran of the War to End All Wars

UK veteran harry patch
IS THAT RICH? UK’s oldest living veteran of the Great War died this weekend at age 111. Machine-gunner Harry Patch who survived Ypres and nearly not Passchendaele, was eulogized by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles who explained “The Great War is a chapter in our history we must never forget.” Prime Minister Gordon Brown added: “The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten.” What did Soldier Patch think of the war for which he was held in patriotic regard? “It wasn’t worth it.”

Patch had been adamant that the senseless slaughter of WWI was not justified, for neither Queen nor Country. The joke is on us hopeful pacifists however, because the old soldier WAITED UNTIL HE WAS 100 TO SAY IT.

Do antiwar activists ask too much of our soldiers, to bear the brutalization of war, and return to be strong enough to speak against it? The state portrays their shell-shocked silence as stoic heroism, the veterans are far too broken to object. And the recruiting cycle repeats itself. The swiftboaters outnumber the conscientious objectors.

We will probably wait forever for the veteran to end all veterans.

Once an unrepentant soldier, always a…

Iraq liberatorA bumper sticker ahead of me read ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE. Next to it was LESS MEAN, LESS LEAN, STILL A MARINE. It got me thinking about the soldiers who come back from war, in light of later revelations of their true brutality. A suppressed investigation in the Mekong Delta 1968-1969, resurfaced in this month’s Nation: “A My Lai a Month.” Operation Speedy Express produced a casualty ration of 40:1, with Vietnamese civilians accounting for an estimated 92%. In view of atrocities which turn out to have been pervasive, what are we to conclude about our veterans? These men are still what? are always what?

The preponderance of our dehumanized ex-soldiers are not in the street committing serial murder and rape, at least not in American streets. The Vietnam vets who suffered are now antiwar. The others unrepentant have been perpetrating the wars that followed –should we be surprised– with the same ferocity and collateral damage? Suppressing the crimes committed in Vietnam, out of concern for the fragile consciences of our vets, has only served to grant license to the war-fueled sadists who still command our inhuman arsenal.

Yesterday, a memorial was held in Missouri for William Doyle, of the infamous Tiger Force unit of the 101st Airborne, who went to his grave bragging about the civilians he’d killed, wishing he’d killed more. The 1965-67 atrocities of the Tiger Force were only revealed in 2004. They were not aberrations but results of the orders the soldiers had been given. This was true about the Free Fire Zones of Operation Speedy Express of the 9th Infantry Division, and for the My Lai raid by the Charlie Company. Few were prosecuted, and fewer punished. Lieutenant Calley served only four months for presiding over the murder of 400 Vietnamese villagers in 1968.

To be fair, each of these examples involved the US Army. The Marines have their own rap-sheet of war crimes that span more engagements than just America’s declared wars, especially in Central and South America. Already Iraq War veterans are trying to confess their deeds in Operation Iraqi Freedom. How many years before journalists are able to report the true crimes of the battle of Fallujah?

Colo. Springs celebrates underage vets

vet-parade
COLORADO SPRINGS- The average age of a uniformed participant in this year’s Veteran’s Day Parade was underage! The high school Junior ROTCs, the Young Marines, the Devil Pups, and the scouts, pulled the age downward against the ever diminishing number of retired combat vets. I think the Hussar-clad HS marching bands brought the mean down too.

While officially the youthful paraders were there to cheer the old vets, it’s hard to imagine the cries of “thank you” were not intended for the ears of those in attendance who were still part of the military. Actually a large number of those involved in the Veteran’s Day Parade are active duty, when not on deployment.

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Belonging to a pro-militant fan club such as the Colorado Springs Young Marines does not make you a soldier, nor I should hope a soldier-to-be. But their recruits are already veterans of US militarism and the warrior indoctrination process.

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The Young Marines are sponsored by the Marine Corps, a rather audacious recruiting beachhead considering Colorado Springs is an Army and Air Force town. Note: the Marines have no JROTC program here, and the fewest nationwide. What does that say about the age they target?

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Not to be outdone by the Young Marines, the Colorado Springs Youth Marine Club goes by the name DEVIL PUPS, although it offers its conscripts the chance to “learn code of conduct from Godly Veterans.”

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Note the better fitting uniform and helmet, sized for infants. The Devil Pups are affiliated with a Camp Pendleton Devil Pups Inc. Though They claim to be neither a mini-boot-camp, nor a para-military outfit, the Devil Pups require that children “must pass a Physical Fitness Test, cannot be on any type of medication for any reason, [and] cannot have asthma (no exceptions).”

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Do you doubt the Boy Scouts are a para-military organization? These scoutmasters don’t. STILL SERVING THROUGH SCOUTING read one banner. Another read RETURNING TO THE VALUES SCOUTING NEVER LEFT. Were those the values of Kit Carson to which you’re alluding?

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Here are elementary school students riding on a float sponsored by the Globe Charter School. They hold posters celebrating the four branches of the military, plus the National Guard and the Coast Guard.

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Rampart High School’s marching band, the “Rampart Regiment” costumed in deaths-head Hessian uniforms.

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Our land-locked state also has a JROTC for students interested in the Navy. Three out of the four Colorado high schools enrolled in the Navy program are in Colorado Springs. They are Mesa Ridge, Wasson and Widefield. Oddly, none of Colorado’s 21 Army JROTC high school programs are in COS. The Air Force has five of seven participating high schools: Harrison, William Mitchell, Air Academy, Falcon and Sand Creek.

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The parade of vintage cars provides a suitable reminder that all modern wars, post WWI, like these models, have been fought over the resource needed to fuel them.

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Unafraid to make that point directly, the Military Vehicle Collectors Club solicits donations to KEEP ‘EM ROLLING.

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This 40s staff car ferried former Waves who served the Navy in WWII. Resembling what most of us expect from a parade for honored veterans.

Avenge Vietnam among other things

POW-MIA pin- Bring em Home Or Send Us BackThe wait was long at the post office, prompting a gentleman ahead of me to remark “Soon this is what health care is going to be like. Get used to it.” I might have agreed, if he hadn’t gone on to expound with unsolicited details. “Socialized medicine like Obama has in mind will lead us to ruin -etc, etc.” I had to chime in. “A good part of the population can only hope their health care will be as easy to get as walking into the postal office.”

I asked him if he’d had health care lately. He said yes. I asked if he was insured. Again yes. I assured him he was more fortunate than a sizable number of Americans. He told me he could tell by my tone that I was a liberal, and that he had no intention of arguing, but he’d just say this, etc: No one is being denied health care anywhere and proceeded to list all the hospitals that couldn’t turn them away. I assured him people were suffering from inadequate health care, unemployment, etc. He: “why don’t they get off their asses?” Me: can’t get jobs with benefits, malnutrition, unequal access, don’t know their options. He went on about lazy immigrant jerk-offs, between pointing his finger in my face and telling me to “shut up,” while insisting on getting the last word. Finally he turned away and I saw what was on the back of his jacket.

I’d already sized this fellow up by his ironed dark blue-jeans, his Harley-Davidson patch and his trim grey hair. He was a pensioner biker, but I hadn’t appreciated him bad-mouthing the postal workers who were on their break but still within earshot. He was likely a Limbaugh ditto-head, based on his outspoken populist right-rage, and on his too-crisp denim jacket he had a large MIA-POW emblem.

Now, I’ve seen folk still caught up in the MIA sentiment, and they take it very sentimentally. I’ve even seen young teens performing a “missing you” place setting ceremony with the empty chair, candle and rose, on military occasions, for what must be by now a grandfather or great uncle. Probably this is a ritual they have grown up with and will pass on to their kids. It’s a depressing self-isolation, but I don’t want to begrudge them their incapacity to question the poor-man’s lost-war avenger dogma.

But an MIA freak who’s also a beer-hall loudmouth? No quarter.

I remarked, to the back of his head, that I didn’t see how someone could expect to be taken credibly on the subject of social problems, who also believed there are American soldiers still being held hostage in Vietnam. The Lord-Harley-Fountleroy wheeled around and nearly clocked me.

“I’ll punch you in the face if you dare insult the memory of the guys who -etc, etc” he yelled. The broader my smile, the more he repeated his threat. Our already indiscreet argument had drawn the attention of everyone in the line, including the counter staff. I guess he thought that an MIA blasphemy would give him license, in the court of public queue opinion, to shut me up with his fist. He went on to make the rest of his arguments to the postal clerks, looking for affirmation of his inherent indignation. I just kept smiling and winking at them. Sentimental conservative hard-asses? I don’t feel for you.

Goodbye War Drum Major George

major-george-hutton-ppjpc-infiltrator-snoop.jpgThe vote is in, we send George Hutton packing. But not without a good eulogy.
 
Colonel George, as we liked to chide him, was known to the local peace community as a regular attendee, who usually near the end of a meeting stood up to tell us all we were wrong, and misguided, and a disgrace, we were giving aid and comfort to the enemy, etc, then he’d sit down. After long he didn’t need to say anything because his scorn, if ever soft spoken, hung over every discussion.

I recommended uninviting Mr. Hutton from the PPJPC (the planning sessions of all things!) and returning his membership fee for the benefit of un-muddling our energies, but well intended pious Netties lobbied to keep the door open, hoping someday he’d see the light. They didn’t see how their faith in George’s salvation was meanwhile sabotaging our otherwise elevated team spirit.

At a protest, I saw George, participating with us in his uniform, step toward the TV cameras and volunteer for an interview. Then, instead of speaking for us, he spoke against our pacifist message and characterized us as throwback hippie loons.

On another occasion, I saw George reduce a very gentle-hearted peace activist to tears with his spite toward anyone who would so insult the boys in uniform. Many of us tried to engage George, thinking his persistence at our events betrayed a guilty conscience about what he did in Vietnam, but George never did blink from his icy disapproving stare.

When online discussion on the PPJPC website commenced in earnest, George eventually stumbled across it and began spamming the comments with his passive aggressive vitriol. This resulted in indignant exchanges and led the goodness-gracious Nellies of the organization to ponder whether we needed such an uncivil thing as a blog forum at all. Sooner than have the disagreement-averse older crew scuttle the project I advocated banning George Hutton from the blog and we did.

But George petitioned and bent every ear, and now the PPJPC staff has overruled the board and so the pernicious troll returned. For some odd reason however, Major Hutton took the decision to mean he was sanctioned to comment on Not My Tribe too. At first I thought it best to draw his fire here, sooner than at the nascent J&P site. To his credit, despite his boorish admonitions about our “neg vibes,” George prompted wonderfully heated rebuttals. Until we became simply bothered.

Tony has stated the case plainly enough. Paid or not, George’s mission was to defend American Imperialism, re-justify Vietnam, and disrupt any antiwar talk. And frankly, he was doing quite well. Look at me, I’ve been lured into writing him a God-damned send-off!

George, this is not about Freedom of Speech. No one is entitled to disrupt the speech of others for the sake of his own. What you are doing is simply interference jamming. That’s not protected expression. You’re not interested in discussion, only keeping your opponent covered. Go find your own soapbox. Send us a link. If you make it interesting, we might check in on you.

No eulogy would be complete without a tribute. Here I excerpt George Hutton in his own nutshell:

Just so you know I had a TS, NATO, CRYPTO, ATOMIC, NSA-SI clearance. So know a bit. Was in the ASA too.

I was in the Army & Texas Guard.

I was in the Rangers (airborn) too. 3 full tours too. From 1964 – 66 & 70-71.

As for the trip to Cambodia, I was there. It failed due to comminist within the South Viet-nam military.

I went to OCS after 20 years as an enlistedman. Was E1 to E7 & O2 & finished as O4 with my military service. Skipped 2LT as I was #2 in my class. Was a NCO most of my service so I know about &*&%$# Officers too.

I did 2/3 of my time “in the field” traing Turkish & Greek military folk to advisor in Viet nam. So, do try to understand me, been there – done that.

What pearls of wisdom did Mr. Hutton offer NMT? How about this chestnut about the Greek isle of Lesbos (Lesbos is the origin of the word “lesbian,” having been home to the ancient poet Sappho who wrote about love between women.) But in George’s account:

Having been stationed in Turkey & going to Greece & islands the rumer is these folks did not like males very much. Ran the island & used the males then killed them keeping girl babies to keep the island going. Just bit of history.

Bye George.

Support Our Homeless Troops

COLORADO SPRINGS- I watched yesterday as a group of homeless men disbanded beneath an underpass. I remarked how their yet unbent frames and close-shaved heads made them appear more menacing than usual. Then I noticed one had a graphite prosthetic calf, and I thought about our vets who disappear themselves into being vagabonds. Homelessness is elective you could say, like despondency or suicide. If one in four of America’s homeless are veterans, why not tell us what that fraction amounts to? They must know.

Americans were just leaked the number of suicides among our soldiers and veterans. It’s more even than have died in the Iraq war. We hear about the seemingly haphazard suicides, self-destructive acts and reckless endangerments, but who puts it together? Did you imagine the tally as a result of the war would be so high?

Probably the incidence of PTSD, they say now 30%, is equally under-documented. Who will contravene with the VA, the DoD and the State Department to give us the real totals?

Americans recently honored the 4,000th US casualty in Iraq. What was THAT milestone for? The American Friends Service Committee had been circulating a collection of army boots –Eyes Wide Open, before the number became unmanageable– to correspond to the official US losses. It didn’t occur to me how some military families might feel left out by that count. What about the non-combat deaths, or the wounded who expire stateside? What about the suicides, or the brain-dead? What about the broken bodies who would be over-represented by a pair of boots, who would need a single boot, or none at all?

What is the real figure so far, of US lives sacrificed to the war? What fraction of a Vietnam wall memorial are they setting aside for the true casualty count? Enough for ten thousand? Is our tally of wasted-lives several times that?

I want to know where are the yokels who make a big deal about supporting the troops? Where are they while homeless vets look for heat and food? Where is the support for young men haunted to the point of committing suicide? Is that yellow sticker on your car the furthest extent to which you support the troops? Do you hope your sticker remains obscured in the garage until the homeless vets pass?

I hope the yellow ribbon Support the Troops sticker comes to mean you’re good for a meal, a ride, a place to sleep, or spare change for a drink. I didn’t support the troops, what they did and still do, or the trouble they find themselves in now that their killing duty is served. You encouraged them, you’re still welcoming them home and cheering their continued deployment. You broke these young men, now support them.

Strong as steel and aircraft aluminum

Be all you can be in the Army
Like Wonderbread before they were compelled to retract the false advertising claim, the Army builds healthy bodies 24 different ways. There are actually more permutations of disability defined by which limbs have been lost or paralyzed. If you think “healthy” is an affront to those vets struggling with therapy and their own will to live, imagine what they feel about the recruitment slogans Army Strong, or Be All You Can Be.
 
Army of One probably describes it.

Winter Soldier testimonies coming to DC

Winter Soldier film features confessions and documentation of American atrocities in VietnamThe IVAW are really pulling it together this year. And they’ve set upon an ambitious strategy that has precedent with Vietnam antiwar vets. Winter Soldier Redux, Washington DC, March 13-16, 2008.
 
In 1970 veterans of the Vietnam war convened in Detroit to share personal confessions of their part in atrocities perpetrated against the Vietnamese. The documentary made of these transcripts was kept from the US public and has only recently become available. Click here for some clips on YouTube.

A Veterans Day wheelchair parade

Colorado Springs Veterans Day ParadeThis year’s Colorado Springs Veteran’s Day Parade falls on Veteran’s Day. The theme is “a nation at war, a community of support.” Doesn’t sound much to do with honoring veterans. Are we holding an active-duty support-the-war parade on honor-the-Veteran’s Day?
 
There will be 92 entries and five helium balloons. There are no entry fees because the city business community is so supportive of our soldiers over there, fighting to make the war safe for the contractors. Lots of military profiteers in Colorado Springs.

Organizers say that fully half of the participants in the parade will be veterans or active duty soldiers. Fully half? What are the other half? By my calculations, that means that there will be more non-soldiers and non-ex-soldiers than veterans. In the Veteran’s Day Parade.

I have an idea about how to involve lots more veterans. The unseen, underappreciated veterans. The veterans not usually invited to join any reindeer games. This year let’s invite the disabled veterans. And since the focus is this nation at war, this war, let’s honor the freshly disabled. This year let’s have a Veteran’s Day wheelchair parade.

I pictured it last year, maybe a handful of malcontents, youthful Iraq War Veterans wearing disaffected-youth garb accessorized with the odd army cloth article, walking with their canes or without, challenging parade watchers to look at them. I imagined it too complex an antiwar statement for most.

This year there could be over 3,000 wounded Iraq War vets from Colorado Springs alone. There would be many more if you count the spiritually and mentally disabled, the post traumatic sufferers, and the yet to be, the terminally unabled. Forming a sea of true veterans, of youth sacrificed to war, in a mass to large to look in the eye.

Getting our re-fill of panhandlers

Fresh vetI spotted this panhandler at a nearby offramp. Is she really a veteran? I’m not sure her age matches the Gulf War camo. Itinerants do confess that WILL WORK FOR FOOD gets more support when you say you’re a vet. Of course, as a result the public begins to look at “homeless veterans” with cynicism.
 
The pretend-vet ruse obscures the fact that an enormous proportion of homeless men have always come from the wars, and they are already emerging from this last.

Veteran’s Day parade, part 1

Prussian charge
I should say that I had never watched a veteran’s parade, I think. Wasn’t it supposed to be a parade of veterans? This was a parade of mostly active duty soldiers and soldiers-to-be. It was very disturbing.

There was a flatbed trailer, there may have been several of these interspersed, on which stood a current war hero. He straddled the platform, his hands on his hips, striking a valiant pose, his chin held high and to the side. A large placard read: recipient of medal so-and-so.

There were marching bands, real young faces. I hoped that as excited as they were to be in the parade, that they weren’t thinking of joining the military.

I had just met a gentleman looking for legal advice for his daughter who’d recently signed up. She was a promising musician in high school, she played the coronet. A recruiter had told her that the army was in desperate need of musicians. They needed her for their marching band. The recruiter assured her that she wouldn’t have anything to do with the fighting, but that she could serve her country in its hour of need, by offering to do something that she loved. She signed on.

No sooner was she through boot camp that she learned she was being sent to Iraq. She and her fellow musicians were told: leave your instruments at home, you won’t need them.

Among the marching bands was a band called the Rampart Regiment, (actually Rampart High School’s marching band, and state champions). But their uniforms were terribly unfortunate. They were black, a sort of turn of the century look with high hats, and a large black feather. They looked like Prussians, or what we would recreate in our minds if we were trying to visualize those mercenary Hessians! Their outfits hearkened to a day when the uniforms meant to intimidate.

Does anyone remember what distinguished the aggressive from the defensive soldiers in the last world wars? The Allies had the frumpy uniforms because they didn’t mind being seen as sympathetic. The aggressive soldiers are the ones who want to scare the bejezus out of their enemies. This has been true since warfare began.

White hat versus black hat, it’s true for cowboys and hackers. Good guys and bad guys.

What was Rampart thinking to dress their band looking like black draped raiders? They look like Cossacks about to swing down and slice you in the back as you try to flee from them.

What business do we have trying to glorify the terror of war?

I was horrified too by what appeared to be den mothers, preening their little kids in their little uniforms, to salute the passing soldiers. These were not just boy scout uniforms but miniature military outfits. I couldn’t help but think these kids were wishing that someday they too could be featured in the parade.

At that point I noticed there weren’t any wheelchairs in the parade. Top be sure many of the WWII vets may not be so ambulatory nowadays, but their disabilities were concealed by the antique cars from which they waved. Why couldn’t something like that have been arranged for the wounded Iraq war vets?

There weren’t any crutches or wheelchairs or homeless drunkards which comprise the largest contingent of Vietnam vets. Now we’re learning it’s even more true for the Gulf Gar vets. And there were no mentally addled vets with bandaged heads to symbolize their injuries.

And certainly the Veterans For Peace and the Iraq Veterans Against the War were denied permission to participate.

Then there was something most disturbing of all: a guy in army fatigues, youngish, stocky, probably a drill sergeant but uncharacteristically casual, and he was working the crowd. In nonchalant fashion, he was rallying both participants and spectators with a call and response routine.

“God bless America” he would shout. “God bless America” the crowd answered. I was reminded of something Bismark had famously said in the 19th century: “God protects fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.”

There we were, this veteran’s day, a day to honor veterans, ignoring the veterans altogether. An active duty soldier rallying soldiers and the families of soldiers: “God bless America.” “God bless America.”

Over and over. “God bless America.” “God bless America.”

We will need it.