Tag Archives: Veteran’s Day

Veterans Day: when antiwar activists can tell parading soldiers to Get a Job!

What are active duty soldiers doing in veterans day parades? It’s premature isn’t it, and self congratulatory? They’re being deployed to a public relations stint designed to admonish the public to remember their sacrifice, except present day recruits weren’t drafted. They’re economy dodgers. Yeah hardly voluntary and I don’t envy the straw they drew, but it’s hard to sympathize for signing up to kill and bully lesser armed people. Anyway, Veterans Day parades are a perfect example of soliders demonstrating their non-contribution to productive society, a chance for antiwar protesters to share an inside joke: GET A JOB!

WWII air veterans of Doolittle Raiders celebrate 71 years of bombing civilians

Doolittle nose-art
I read 30 Seconds Over Tokyo when I was still a war-playing kid, before I would understand the mischievous consequences of the Doolittle Raiders B-25 bombers deploying without their bombsights. This was to prevent US war-making advantages falling into enemy hands but it also precluded dropping bombs with accuracy. I’m pretty certain the account for young readers also didn’t explain why over a quarter of the squadron’s bombs were of the incidiary cluster variety. Readers today know what those are for. Doolittle claimed to be targeting military sites in Japan’s capitol, but “invariably” hit civilian areas including four schools and a hospital. Of the American fliers captured, three were tried and executed by the despicable “Japs”, who considered the straffing of civilians to be war crimes. After the war, the US judged the Japanese officers responsible, as if their verdict was a greater injustice against our aviators’ “honest errors”. Today we rationalize our systemic overshoot policy as “collateral damage”.

Every year since WWII, Doolittle’s commandos are feted for their milestone bombing mission. This Veterans Day is to be the last due to their advanced ages. But it is fitting, because isn’t it time Americans faced what we’re celebrating? There’s no denying it took suicidal daring, but the Doolittle Raid inaugurated what became a staple of US warfare, the wholesale terrorizing of civilians from on high, with impunity and indifference. To be fair, the American public has always been kept in the dark. American aircraft have fire-bombed civilians at every diplomatic opportunity since 1942, and a Private Manning sits in the brig for trying to give us a chance to object.

We now know that the Doolittle Raid didn’t turn the tide, nor shake Japanese resolve. It was a retalliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, intended to boost US morale as if to say, America wasn’t defeated. Kinda like why and how we struck back at Afghanistan after 9/11, just as indiscriminately.

The “Mark Twain” ersatz bombsight
substitute bombsightThe Norden bombsight was a closely guarded US secret weapon. An airstrike without it would today be like lobotomizing so-called smart bombs, and deciding to opt for imprecision bombing. The official army record recounts that a subsitute sighting mechanism was improvised for the raid, dubbed the “Mark Twain” and judged to be effective enough. Now a bad joke. Indochina and Wikileaks-wisened, we know the mendacity of that assessment. The vehemently anti-imperialist, anti-racist Twain would not have been honored.

Twain satirized Western so-called Enlightenment thus: “good to fire villages with, upon occasion”.

Post-postwar hagiographies of the raid have suggested the improvised bombsight was better suited to low-altitude missions than the Norden model. That conclusion is easily dismissed because the device was used only for the Doolittle run and never after. The sight’s designer, mission aviator C. Ross Greening, offered a explanation for why he named the device after Mark Twain in his pothumously published memoir Not As Briefed. He didn’t.

The bombsight is named the “Mark Twain” in reference to the “lead line” depth finder used on the Mississippi River paddle wheelers in bygone days.

Because its design was so simple, we’re left to suppose. Greening’s bombsight was named for the same “mark” which Samuel Langhorne Clemens adopted as his celebrated pen name. I find it disingeneous to pretend to repurpose an archaic expression whose meaning was already eclipsed by the household name of America’s most outspoken anti-imperialist. Who would believe you named your dog “Napoleon” after a French pastry?

We are given another glimpse into Greening’s sense of humor by how he named his plane, the “Hari-Kari-er” ready to deal death by bomb-induced suicide. Greening’s B-25 is the one pictured above, with the angelic tart holding a bomb aloft. Greening’s plane was another that carried only incendiary ordnance.

Much was made of the sight’s two-piece aluminum construction, reportedly costing 20 cents at the time compared to the $10,000 Norden. This provided the jingoist homefront the smug satisfaction perhaps, combining a frugality born of the Depression with the American tradition of racism, that only pennies were expensed and or risked on Japanese lives.

War Crimes
Targeting civilians, taking insufficient care to avoid civilian casualties, using disproportunate force, acts of wanton retaliation, and the use of collective punishment are all prohibited by international convention. They are war crimes for which the US prosecutes adversaries but with which our own military refuses to abide. Americans make much of terrorism, yet remain blind to state terrorism. Doolittle’s historic raid, judged by the objective against which it is celebrated as a success, was an act of deliberate terrorism.

Forcing the Japanese to deploy more of their military assets to protect the mainland sounds like a legitimate strategy, except not by targeting civilians to illustrate the vulnerability, nor by terrorizing the population, one of Doolittle’s stated aims. He called it a “fear complex”.

It was hoped that the damage done would be both material and psychological. Material damage was to be the destruction of specific targets with ensuing confusion and retardation of production. The psychological results, it was hoped, would be the recalling of combat equipment from other theaters for home defense, the development of a fear complex in Japan, improved relationships with our Allies, and a favorable reaction in the American people.

There is no defending Japan’s imperialist expansion in the Pacific, and certainly not its own inhumanity. The Japanese treated fellow Asians with the same racist disregard with which we dispatched Filipinos. While Americans point in horror at how the Japanese retalliated against the Chinese population for the Doolittle Raid, we ignore that Doolittle purposely obscured from where our bombers were launched, leaving China’s coast as the only probably suspect.

To be fair, most of Doolittle’s team was kept in the dark about the mission until they were already deployed. I hardly want to detract from the courage they showed to undertake a project that seemed virtually suicidal. But how long should all of us remain in the dark about the true character of the Doolittle Raid?

Out of deference for the earlier generation of WWII veterans, those in leadership, certain intelligence secrets were kept until thirty years after the war. Unveiled, they paint a very different picture of what transpired. The fact that the US knew the German and Japanese codes from early on revealed an imbalance not previously admitted, as an example.

About the Doolittle Raid, much is already openly documented, if not widely known. The impetus for the raid was public knowledge, the evidence of its intent in full view.

BY DESIGN
In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, American newspapers were already touting offers of cash rewards for whoever would be the first to strike back at Japan. President Roosevelt expressed a deliberate interest in hitting the Japanese mainland, in particular Tokyo, to retaliate for the Japanese strike against Pearl Harbor, never mind it had been a solely military target.

Plans were made to exploit the Japanese homeland’s vulnerability to fire, as ninety percent of urban structures were made of paper and wood. Writes historian William Bruce Jenson:

In his “confidential” meeting with reporters back in November, Marshall had declared that the US would have no cavil about burning Japan’s paper cities.

For the Doolittle Raid, a bombing strategy was developed to overwhelm the fire department of his target, the Shiba ward.

A former naval attache in Tokyo told Doolittle: “I know that Tokyp fire department very well. Seven big scattered fires would be too much for it to cope with.”

As lead plane, Doolittle’s role was to literally blaze the way. Fellow pilot Richard Joyce told Nebraska History Magazine in 1995:

The lead airplane, which was going to have Doolittle on board as the airplane commander, was going to be loaded with nothing but incendiaries -2.2­ pound thermite incendiaries- in clus­ters. They drop these big clusters and then the straps break and they spray, so they set a whole bunch of fires. He was to be the pathfinder and set a whole bunch of fires in Tokyo for pathfinding purposes.

Doolittle’s report outlined his objective more formally:

one plane was to take off ahead of the others, arrive over Tokyo at dusk and fire the most inflammable part of the city with incendiary bombs. This minimized the overall hazard and assured that the target would be lighted up for following airplanes.

Greening paints the most vivid picture, of burning the Japanese paper houses to light the way:

Doolittle planned to leave a couple of hours early, and in the dark set fire to Tokyo’s Shiba ward … the mission’s basic tactic had been that Doolittle would proceed alone and bomb a flammable section of Tokyo, creating a beacon in the night to help guide following planes to their targets.

Doolittle’s copilot Lt Richard Cole, told this to interviews in 1957:

Since we had a load of incendiaries, our target was the populated areas of the west and northwest parts of Tokyo.

After the bombers had left on their raid, and before news got back about whether or not they accomplished it, the Navy crew on the carrier USS Hornet already sang this song, which went in part:

Little did Hiro think that night
The skies above Tokyo would be alight
With the fires that Jimmy started in Tokyo’s dives
To guide to their targets the B-25s.
When all of a sudden from out of the skies
Came a basket of eggs for the little slant eyes

Incendiaries

Most of the bombers were loaded with three demolition bombs and an incendiary cluster bomb. Some of the planes carried only incendiaries. According to Doolittle’s official report of the raid, here were some of their stated objectives:

Plane no. 40-2270, piloted by Lt. Robert Gray:
thickly populated small factories district. … Fourth scattered incendiary over the correct area

Plane No. 40-2250, Lt. Richard Joyce:
Incendiary cluster dropped over thickly populated and dense industrial residential sector immediately inshore from primary target. (Shiba Ward)

“The third dem. bomb and the incendiary were dropped in the heavy industrial and residential section in the Shiba Ward 1/4 of a mile in shore from the bay and my tat.”

Aircraft 40-2303, Lt Harold Watson:
the congested industrial districts near the railroad station south of the Imperial Palace

AC 40-2283, David Jones:
the congested area Southeast of the Imperial Palace

Even though the planned night raid became a daytime mission, Doolittle did not alter his original role, intended to light the way for the following planes. His target remained the Shiba District of Tokyo. His own plane: “changed course to the southwest and incendiary-bombed highly inflammable section.”

Doolittle’s report included a description of the incendiary bombs:

The Chemical Warfare Service provided special 500 incendiary clusters each containing 128 incendiary bombs. These clusters were developed at the Edgewood Arsenal and test dropped by the Air Corps test group at Aberdeen. Several tests were carried on to assure their proper functioning and to determine the dropping angle and dispersion. Experimental work on and production of these clusters was carried on most efficiently.

As has become an aerial bombardment tradition, crews were let to inscribe messages on the bombs about to be dropped. Accounts made the most of these chestnuts: “You’ll get a BANG out of this.” And “I don’t want to set the world on fire –only Tokyo.”

These details, which reveal the intentions of the raid, were not made known to the public immediately. The Doolittle Raid was planned and executed in secret, with US government and military spokesmen denying knowledge of the operation even in its aftermath. The first word to reach the American public came from the New York Times, citing Japanese sources:

Enemy bombers appeared over Tokyo for the first time in the current war, inflicting damage on schools and hospitals. Invading planes failed to cause and damage on military establishments, although casualties in the schools and hospitals were as yet unknown. This inhuman attack on these cultural establishments and on residential districts is causing widespread indignation among the populace.

This report was dismissed as propaganda. When Japan declared its intention to charge the airman it had taken captive with war crimes, the US protestations redoubled. The accusations were belittled even as our own reports conceded to the possibilities.

Lieutenant Dawson’s Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo was the first published account of the raid. Printed less than a year after the event, wartime-sensitive details such as the phony guns made of broomstick handles poking out the back were left out. Targets were also not specified, but a candor remained, probably intended to be threatening. Lawson described the 500-pound incendiaries as “something like the old Russian Molotov Breadbasket”, and related US naval attache Jurika’s advice:

“If you can start seven good fires in Tokyo, they’ll never put them out,” Jurika promised us. … “I wouldn’t worry too much about setting fires in flimsy-looking sections of Tokyo,” he said. “The Japanese have done an amazing job of spreading out some of their industries, instead of concentrating them in large buildings. There’s probably a small machine shop under half of these fragile-looking roofs.”

“Flimsy” became Lawson’s keyword for the residential areas. Here Lawson described dropping his third and fourth bombs, when he saw their corresponding red light indicators:

The third red light flickered, and, since we were now over a flimsy area in the southern part of the city, the fourth light blinked. That was the incendiary, which I knew would separate as soon as it hit the wind and that dozens of small fire bombs would molt from it.

I was satisfied about the steel-smelter and hoped the other bombs had done as well. There was no way of telling, but I was positive that Tokyo could have been damaged that day with a rock.

Our actual bombing operation, from the time the first one went until the dive, consumed not more than thirty seconds.

Thus: Chance of hitting civilian homes: 50/50.
Charges of Excessive Force could be expected, because
blame the victim for being weaker than: a rock.
Care taken to avoid innocent casualties: 30 seconds.

In a later afterword, Lawson blamed Tokyo for having insufficient bomb shelters.

After the war, US occupation forces recovered Japanese records which documented the losses attributed to the Doolittle Raid: fifty dead, 252 wounded, ninety buildings. Besides military or strategic targets, that number included nine electric power buildings, a garment factory, a food storage warehouse, a gas company, two misc factories, six wards of Nagoya 2nd Temporary Army Hospital, six elementary or secondary schools, and “innumerable nonmilitary residences”.

Strafing
Japan accused the fliers of indescriminate strafing civilians. The US countered that defending fighters were responsible for stray bullets when their gunfire missed the bombers. That’s very likely, except the raiders were candid about their strafing too. Lawson:

I nosed down a railroad track on the outskirts of the city and passed a locomotive close enough to see the surprised face of the engineer. As I went by I could have kicked myself for not giving the locomotive’s boiler a burst of our forward 30-calibre guns, then I remembered that we might have better use for the ammunition.

A big yacht loomed up ahead of us and, figuring it must be armed, I told Thatcher to give it a burst. We went over it, lifted our nose to put the tail down and Thatcher sprayed its deck with our 50-calibre stingers.

Greening’s account of firing on a sailor, raises the moral ambiguity of air warfare with which few airmen grapple. By virtue that technology allows it, combatants become slave to a predetermined outcome:

When we attacked the next patrol boat, a Japanese sailor threw his hands up as if to surrender. I guess he expected us to stop and take him prisoner. We shot him and left this boat smoking too.

The Medals
Friendship Medals exchanged between Japan and the US found themselves requisitioned for Doolittle’s Raid:

Several years prior to the war, medals of friendship and good relationship were awarded to several people of the United States by the Japanese government.  In substance these medals were symbolic of the friendship and cooperation between the nations and were to represent the duration of this attitude.  It was decided by the Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Frank Knox, that the time was appropriate to have these medals returned.  They had been awarded to Mr. Daniel J. Quigley, Mr. John D. Laurey, Mr. H. Vormstein and Lt. Stephen Jurkis.

After arrangements had been made and the medals secured, a ceremony was held on the deck of the Hornet during which the medals were wired to a 500 lb. bomb to be carried by Lt. Ted Lawson and returned to the Japanese government in an appropriate fashion.

Lawson’s plane no 40-2261 dropped that bomb on an “industrial section of Tokyo” omitting to mention that Japan’s industry was still a post-feudal cottage industry.

“The medals were subsequently delivered in small pieces to their donors in Tokyo by Lt. Ted Lawson at about noon, Saturday, April 18, 1942.”

–Mitscher, M.A. Letter Report to Commander Pacific Fleet.

“Through the courtesy of the War Department your Japanese medal and similar medals, turned in for shipment, were returned to His Royal Highness, The Emperor of Japan on April 18, 1942.”

–Knox, F. Letter Report to Mr. H. Vormstein

Unlike in Colorado Springs, Americans in Auburn, Washington were not subjected to a completely pro- more war parade on Veterans Day

What a contrast in Auburn to what Right Wingers subject us all to here in Colorado Springs each and every Veterans Day as they use our collective public tax monies to parade their pro war sentiments through public streets. See events in Auburn, Washington… Anti-war veterans took part in the Veterans Day Parade in Auburn on Saturday, a day after a federal judge ordered the city to allow them to participate.— Thank You, Antiwar Vets, for the service you do for our country.

BTW, that photo headlining this commentary is of an antiwar vet at a protest by antiwar vets at a presidential debate in 2008. Unlike your ordinary American soldier, antiwar vets are actually defending Americans right to exercise their Free Speech and not just suppressing people militarily for the US corporate super rich in some foreign country or other. Antiwar Vets Attacked By Police Outside Debate

While the rest of the world celebrates Armistice Day…

We have Veterans Day, or, as I like to put it, “your recruiter lied to you and society used your entire childhood to condition you to accept that, so to make up for getting screwed like that we’ll have a postal holiday and a parade for you”.
Just, you know, don’t actually expect those benefits they promised you BEFORE you signed the enlistment or induction papers, and try to keep in mind as every politician with access to a microphone is praising your decision to “serve the country”, that the renaming of the day as Veterans Day was a deliberate ploy to try to ease the sting of the use of United States soldiers, led by Doug McArthur, Dwight Eisenhower and Patton, to fire on an encampment, daily parade and daily petition to President Hoover to actually honor the promised benefits to Spanish War and World War 1 veterans.
Instead Hoover gave their pensions to Investment Bankers, like his party and their TeaBag affiliates are promising to do AGAIN, only now they’ve got Social Security to give to the Investment Bankers along with them.
They’ve also got enough RepubliFascists who ran under the false flag of Democracy selling your benefits to the Banksters under the equally false flag of “Bipartisanship”.
But, you’re supposed, under the agenda set by these Thieving Murdering Bastards, to remember your fallen comrades… instead of remembering your LIVING Comrades, and yourselves, and your families, who are getting bent over the Proverbial Sink and preparing to be ass-raped by the Thieves once again.

Veterans Day eleventh hour jeopardy

Well here’s a clever twist of a knife into a phrase. Had you heard the “eleventh hour” emphasis on Veterans Day before? What used to be two minutes of silence to commemorate the signing of the Armistice at 11am on 11.11.1918, in Fox News’ hands leaves their viewers to infer it also means awaiting an “eleventh hour” last ditch rescue. Pared with pictures of active duty soldiers standing at attention, and Afghanistan on our minds, the message is unmistakable: send in the cavalry.

Even the eleventh hour last minute idiom has been transformed. To act in the eleventh hour used to mean too late, but to the incorrigible can-do spirit of American procrastinators, it’s when the cavalry rides to the rescue.

As if the propaganda gift of Muslim Major Nidal Malik Hasan weren’t enough, the media tasked with home front public relations is lined up to exploit Veterans Day too. Like Memorial Day, the holiday is meant to celebrate the peace achieved through the sacrifice of our soldiers. Both days commemorate veterans, not active duty soldiers.

It may feel uncharitable to begrudge future veterans the honor, but this where it gets us to hoist aloft present-day soldiers: you wind up celebrating and their mission.

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.

vet-parade
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.

vet-parade
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?

vet-parade
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.”

vet-parade
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).”

vets-parade-scouting.jpg
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?

vets-parade
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.

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

vets-parade
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.

vet-parade
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.

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

vets-parade
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.

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.

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.

Vets Day part 2: the 3rd Armored Cav

Black gloved marchers
Before the Guernica that became Fallujah,
 
before our use of chemical weapons in Fallujah,

before there were civilians immolated in their beds by white phosphor in Fallujah,

before Napalm under the disguise of Mark-77 was used in Fallujah,

before our tanks were running over the injured Iraqis in the streets of Fallujah,

before our helicopters were killing every last family trying to wade across the Euphrates River to escape the blood bath that was Fallujah,

before we were turning back all able-bodied men from the age of 11 to 65 from the lines of refugees trying to leave Fallujah because we didn’t want insurgents to escape our pincer movement, forcing them back into the city to make a stand,

before we declared that anyone not evacuated from Fallujah would be treated as a combatant,

before we declared our determination to make an example of Fallujah.

2.
Before we tried to make an example of Fallujah the first time because the world saw what they did to the four contractor mercenaries,

but had to pull out because we hadn’t yet thought to cut off access to the hospitals from which were escaping horror stories of the atrocities we were committing against the civilians of Fallujah.

Before we had thought to ban Al-Jazeera from Iraq for reporting on Fallujah despite our restrictions,

before we killed the Al-Arabia reporter who dared to venture into Fallujah.

3.
Before the famous desecration of the bodies of the contractor-mercenaries by enraged Fallujah youth who’d often seen contractor-cowboys ride through their streets shooting indiscriminately out the window;

before our military tried to cordon off Fallujah with encampments.

4.
Before the killing of three unarmed Iraqi marchers, and the wounding of dozens more, who’d assembled to protest a massacre the day before, both times by nervous 82nd Airborne soldiers who thought they had been fired upon first.

3.
Before the massacre of schoolboys protesting the occupation of their school by American soldiers. The soldiers claimed to have been fired upon and yet the only bullet holes to be found after the killing of 17 unarmed Iraqi men and boys were from the American guns.

5.
Before that time Fallujah had not been occupied. Fallujah remained restful throughout America’s invasion of Iraq. It was not until the actions of the 82nd Airborne and the Marine Expeditionary Force that Fallujah erupted into a hotbed for the insurgency and, as a result of American anger, into American war crimes recalling Lidice and Guernica.

Throughout this period, and in between the disastrous actions by the 82nd and the Marines, Fallujah and the Anbar Provence were the responsibility of the 3rd Armored Cavalry of Fort Carson, Colorado Springs. To their credit, they were not party to the unfortunate American actions.