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Since Every Day is Veteran’s Day

November 17, 2010

Sally Swift, on her Open Salon blog ( had an interesting Veteran’s Day list of “Who Served Our Country and Who Didn’t.” Since she said some unidentified person sent it to her to share, I assume I can share much of it without violating anyone’s copyright.

She notes that  liberals who want to get us out of the war business, always derided by the conservative punditry as “knee-jerk wimps” included: the much-decorated George McGovern,  and other decorated combat veterans such as John Kerry,  Max Cleland,  Bob  Kerry, and Daniel Inouye.

Their right-wing sneering critics include the following men who never served in the military: Dick Cheney,  John Boehner, Jeb Bush, Karl Rove,  Tom DeLay, Roy Blount, Mitch McConnell (above, center), Trent Lott, and John Ashcroft—saber-rattlers all, full of macho bluster, advocating  and threatening  more and more wars.

Whether George W. Bush should be included is debatable. He wa s in the Texas National Guard but was frequently AWOL, spent much of his on-duty time campaigning for one of his father’s cronies,  and never completed his term of service. Dick Cheney explained he couldn’t because he  “had other priorities at that time.”  Republican rock star Mitt Romney couldn’t  serve because he was a Mormon missionary in France, bringing Christianity to France–about 1700 to 1800 years too late! (Talk about “bringing coals to Newcastle!”  He later admitted that the French laughed at this presumption  and he and his partner failed to make a single convert in their two years of “service”).

Let’s not forget the right-wing Hate Radio crowd. The spiritual children of Joseph Goebbels love to threaten and bluster, spew violent rhetoric and issue threats demanding all other nations (except  Israel) humbly subordinate themselves before our Manifest Superiority. Here are some of those who demand others go to war while never going themselves: Rush Limbaugh (see sheriff’s  mug shot above, right), Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, George Will,  Sean  Hannity, Bill Bennett, Pat Buchanan, Bill Kristol,   and Kenneth Starr. Seems like my old conservative Dad was right [see previous post]–the loud-mouthed, right-wing  saber-rattling, crackpot  war advocates were  always guys who were never in the service themselves, much less in combat.

“John Wayne”:  An American  Icon! But who was he really?  Just as “Rambo” was a fictional character portrayed by Sylvester Stallone and never really existed, so  “John Wayne” was a fictional character impersonated by Marion Morrison (above, left) who never was  a cowboy or a soldier.  Oh, he swaggered and strutted and ran his mouth off with tough talk,  touring Vietnam  and  denouncing others  as ‘draft dodgers’  while he had dodged the WWII draft himself.  The multi-millionaire movie  star had  sat out WWII by the comfort of his Beverly Hills swimming pool. The only bullets he ever faced in his 72 years on earth  were  blank cartridges on a Hollywood  sound stage.   Still another example! How many more do we need before the pattern becomes obvious?

In my previous post, I said that in my youth  I viewed military servicemen and servicewomen in general not as heroes nor villains, but as victims, pawns in the games politicians play, who had very little freedom  of choice, autonomy, or say about their fate. The average age of combat troops in Vietnam was 19. They were  usually not very well-educated youths, not  very sophisticated. They did what they were told and believed whatever they were told.  I spoke with young soldiers in 1966-67,  on their way to Vietnam who seriously believed they were going off  “to fight the Russians” who had  “invaded Vietnam”.  That’s what they’d been told was their mission, the reason they were being sent  off to war: to fight Russians! Most of them literally  could not have found Vietnam on a map .   That still seems the most striking feature of their situation: their lack of  deeper understanding, their lack of control, of any say, over what they do and what happens to them. They were  pawns in a political chess game and few civilians  genuinely  act like they care about them as human beings. I felt sorry for them.

I just heard that the US now has double the number of homeless vets as the number  who died in Vietnam.

There are more homeless Iraqi war vets  on our streets and shelters than died in Iraq.

There have been more Middle Eastern vets committing suicide after their return than were killed in action. (I have heard this said of  Vietnam vets, too, although I cannot cite a source).

These are shocking and tragic facts. The full cost of  Bush’s  fantasy of “Mission Accomplished”  won’t be known for decades. It is growing every day, at home as well as int he theatres of war.

Why is this homelessness, aimlessness, and suicides happening?

I don’t think it’s because not enough civilians sang “God Bless America” twenty times a day.

I don’t think it’s because the returning vets didn’t find enough yellow ribbons awaiting their homecoming.

I don’t think more “We Support Our Troops” bumper stickers would have made the least difference.

I don’t think it’s because they didn’t get ticker-tape parades down Fifth Avenue in New  York City.

I don’t think it’s because not enough of us prayed for them often enough.

It’s not because we didn’t wave the flag enough or only elect Republicans.

It is something beyond that, something much more fundamental.  It’s about the myriad unintended consequences  wars always bring.    “Once you’re e not in the womb or in uniform anymore, they don’t care about you,” one Iraq vet was recently quoted as saying. I  encourage you to think about that.


































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