Posts Tagged ‘veterans’

OTHER MEN DIE

August 22, 2016
Victory is a state of mind.

Victory is a state of mind.

OTHER MEN DIE

And the old vet was up in his studio bedroom in Mom’s attic

Painting magic eyeballs on his fingertips

To go with the mystic spirals on the backs of his hands

And he told us about seagulls in the early dawn

Of feeding them barehanded

Palms stretched to the skies

Lying upon his back on the wet sand

Observing the feathered feeding frenzy

Of the messy, greedy birds

That pecked his fingers and palms and wrists

Opening red puncture wounds

And he loved it

Because it brought him

So close to life.

And I saw that vet by another name

Sitting cross-legged in swim briefs

In wind-tossed dune reed grass

In cold wind whistling off a Winter Pacific

And I asked

“Why do you sit in the freezing cold, Shane?”

And he replied

“Because, at least I know I’m alive.”

And so it goes

jl/PDX/1-13

A Decent World

WAGING WAR FROM A BURNING HOUSE

No More Troops to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, so forth, so on

Dear President Obama,

Stop sending troops to Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, so forth, so on.

I am a Vietnam Era veteran.  We stood nearly twenty years while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the present Reagan-Bush corporatist neo-conservative miasma.

Look at how the radical right Republicans have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor.  The self-destructive insanity of the radical right Republican way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.  We are fighting a war for the life of the republic, as a result.

These are politically motivated corporatist wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  These bloody-handed murderers-by-proxy began their plunder of the American nation by taking the Peace Dividend away from us after the Berlin Wall fell.  They shifted to terrorism as the object of their monolithic war machine, and plunged the whole world into wrack and ruin.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s continued pursuit of it.

End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys, or corporatist oil barons and banksters.  We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

laststroke

AND WHAT ABOUT THESE MERCENARY BANDITS YOU HIRED?

Quit outsourcing government jobs to private contractors.  The People can get the job done better for less cost and for the community’s and not just a few individuals’ profit.

The performance of mission critical security functions by profit-driven contractors is counterproductive and often immoral and criminal.

It’s bad for the morale of our real American troops to see these overpaid and pampered bought-and-sold mercenaries.  I know because I have nephews and nieces who have served in our military in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Talk to real American troops to hear it.

Office of Federal Procurement Policy’s list of inherently governmental functions that these mercenaries must not perform should include: guard services, convoy security services, pass and identification services, plant protection services, the operation of prison or detention facilities, and any security operations that might reasonably require the use of deadly force; and, from support of intelligence activities (including covert operations), interrogation, military and police training, and repair and maintenance of weapon systems.

Machiavelli famously wrote that mercenaries might be trusted for only two things: to demand more money; and to run out when the chips are down.  Don’t buy champagne for mercenaries, use our money wisely to equip and protect our real American troops.

Finally, have you given any thought as to what is to happen if these mercenaries decide they’ve got a better business proposition from our archenemies?  Or, face unemployment?  In Europe unemployed mercenaries set off the Hundred Years’ War, which might properly be called the “Rape, Murder and Plunder Crusade.”  The “Holy Crusades” were invented by the Pope as a safety vent to send these murder mavens packing out of town to do their dirty deeds. We prefer killing “heathens” to our own to this very day. But that can change.

STOP - SAVE

Don’t forget to click on the images for MORE information, or a larger image. Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t forget to salute the Man in the Moon. We’re in this together. All the best! j

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GOD RESTED reprise

July 6, 2011

Islands w/ apple.

AND GOD CREATED THE UNIVERSE (Humor):

And God created the universe in the wink of an eye.  And the wink was a billion billion years long, and a trillion, trillion years wide.  When it was done, everybody wondered what He had done, for it was all new and different, and nobody knew where anything was, and nobody knew what to make of it.

Everybody in those days was the angels, archangels, seraphim and cherubim, and they only knew what they knew, which wasn’t much, but mostly concerned with telling God how great He was, and God was getting to the point where He didn’t know if what they said counted for very much.  He knew what it would be before they said it, because that’s just the way they were, and He should know because He made them that way.  Which was “Catch 22” because how do you get an unbiased review from palace courtiers and the pep squad?

No brainer, god had to create somebody absolutely ignorant about how he or she got here.  It would behoove everybody already present to become invisible to maintain the mystery.  This new somebody would receive skills and abilities sufficient to pose ultimate questions, and to invent answers to them.  They were to be guided by various natural clues and signposts, wandering know-it-alls, and ambiguous events anonymously reported.  The new somebodies would arrive naked in the world, and cobble together reasons and whys from the smorgasbord laid before them, with an occasional stick up the ass to keep them moving. (more…)

TO THOSE WHO SERVE

May 27, 2011

MEMORIAL DAY 2011

TO ALL THE MEMBERS LIVING AND DEAD WHO HAVE SERVED TO PROTECT THIS GREAT FREEDOM-LOVING COUNTRY:  THANK YOU.

Victory is a state of mind.

I Remember

I’ve always been embarrassed that I didn’t go “in-country” in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or anywhere else that Johnson – and later Nixon – sent people to die when I served in the United States Navy 1966-72. Go figure.

As it was, I got to call myself a Vietnam Veteran, and not a Vietnam Era Veteran, because my unit directly supported troops in active combat. We did it at a distance, but we learned too much about the killing fields anyhow.

Joining the Navy was a careful decision. At the time I got my draft notice – order to appear for physical examination, I was older than the norm – largely teenage boys 17 to 19. I was 21 and college educated. I had a brand-new degree while most of my mates sufficed with high school diplomas, maybe a GED, or nothing. Because of the draft there were a lot of guys like me snatched up because they didn’t have enough college credits to avoid the call; or no wife and children; or a rich daddy like George Herbert Walker Bush to buy us into the Texas Air National Guard; or a “critical” behind-the-lines position exempted for a “vital” job; or, were not clever, credible, or courageous enough to claim conscientious objector status.

After my service, I celebrated the 7-year end of the Statute of Limitations on Felony Draft Avoidance with a friend who refused induction and worked for the World Without War Council as a draft counselor for high school students. He told the whole truth, including the right to appeal, obtaining conscientious objector status, and what to do if running was their choice, so the Military enlistment personnel hated seeing him walk into the high school auditorium on Career Counseling Day.

Another friend ran to Canada and was eventually pardoned by Jimmy Carter. The FBI used to send agents to hide in the bushes to watch his mother’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas, just in case the homesick sentimental draft dodger came home for the holidays. I guess they had to cover all the bases in their thorough-thorough way, but the mind boggles at the expenditure of tax dollars – particularly when multiplied by all the other refusals and dodgers at the time, multiplied by all the really important serious crime that might have been investigated instead.

The ratio of will to won’t go was 6-4 in Bay Area San Francisco then. With 40% refusal, the feds only prosecuted celebrity dodgers like Joan Baez’ husband David, whom they sent to some Country Club prison in southern California. Not a bad gig, but he was Baez’ husband and thus too high profile to treat roughly? We didn’t do “Extraordinary Rendition” then; we got beat to crap the “regular” way – behind the scenes, without witnesses by professional peace officers who knew they were breaking the law and every imaginable moral imprimatur, and didn’t give a shit.

One friend received a deferment so that he could create experimental concrete products for the Navy. One creation was an equipment pad able to withstand several “thousand” fathoms pressure on the bottom of the ocean. My friend designed the perfect pad, but the Navy had no equipment advanced enough to place upon it. If they ever do, they’ve got a pad down there, waiting.

Another friend received a deferment to assist a marine biologist in placing transistorized heat sensors inside seal vaginas in order to study changes of body temperature as the animal slid from land into water, and vice versa. His job was to sneak up on sleeping  female seals from behind and…  It beat a foxhole.

Another friend went conscientious objector and was assigned to hospital cleanup for two years. He emptied bedpans and did any other job considered too lowly for higher hospital staff. The feds called it “Alternative Service,” but they looked down on it, like punishment, prison, or just like lifers in the military looked down on draftees.

Draftees bleed like everyone else, but they were only doing so (the lifers reasoned?) because they were forced to do so, and not (I reasoned) because they were boneheaded enough to make a voluntary career choice of it. With all the respect I truly have for the volunteer regular military, I never figured out how anybody could feel superior because of that.  That is the dichotomy in supporting the troops – they are killing people, yet they are heroes for doing so and we owe them our deepest support and respect. However, I voluntarily enlisted to avoid the “draftee” stigma. Being in the service was tough enough.

I also enlisted to choose my service. I chose the Navy. Army folks were up to their asses in the mud and blood; I think the survival expectation for a grunt touching down in a hot landing zone was eleven minutes. Their helicopter pilots – their only open officer program at the time – were being shot down one a week. It was a shockingly quick waste of a four-year college degree.

The Marines was a no-brainer, don’t go there. A high school chum who went off to war with them two years previously had come home whacked out. He wanted to get an M-16 and “go on up to Colored Town and clean out all the niggers. We’re gonna have to do it sooner or later. Better up there than down here.” (It’s always best to go someplace else to kill people than it is to do it in one’s own home. Think of the carpets). His eyes clearly showed how scared and hurt he was. He made me sad.

The Air Force was a prime option. They appeared to do most of their fighting two miles above the ground and then went home to the officer’s club on a nice protected base hundreds of miles from any danger, but it wasn’t recruiting at the time. Everybody wanted to be in the Air Force. Even G.W. Bush had to get Dad to pull big-time strings just to get into the lowly Texas Air Guard (and then the ratty little twerp went AWOL! – What a disgusting man, good at avoiding and starting war; “Georgie Porgie ran away”. I don’t think any president should have sole power to declare war – under any circumstances – especially one who has never fought one).

Next best? The Navy rode around in great big ships some two miles off shore and occasionally threw boxcar sized shells at the North Vietnamese, or steamed around making a show of military might and presence and fathering mixed foreign bastard babies. Navy chow was also rumored to be great, even better than Air Force grub. I didn’t know enough about sea duty to worry about it, yet. And I’d never heard of Mekong Delta Patrol. Of such stuff are great personal decisions made. What was it Rummy (Donald Rumsfeld) said? “There are the known-knowns that we know, and the known-unknowns that we know we don’t know; and then there are the unknown-unknowns that we don’t know at all.” And those are the little beauties that get you every time.

[Click images for added info, comment].

End of the Tunnel

A SIDELONG VIEW OF THE VIET NAM WAR

I was stationed on Guam, during the war,

A territory of the U. S. of A.,

From which the B-52s took off,

With their burden of bombs,

For old Hanoi and Uncle Ho,

Crewed by men in cowboy and other funny hats,

With box lunches,

For they’d be home for supper,

And a drink at the air-conditioned bar,

After the fall of the bombs on Nam,

And the lunch-box debris drop,

On the Russian trawler,

Bobbing at the three-mile limit,

Listening to our radio on the island shore.

I saw the B-52 Commuter War,

From beginning to end,

Up for the 7:30 a.m. launch,

Home for the 5 o’clock p.m. whistle,

And, in between,

The men in the cowboy and other funny hats

Never heard the sound,

As they rode high,

Twenty minutes from lunch,

And, two miles above the killing ground.

LET’S CELEBRATE LIBERTY:

We are brave Amerricuns,

With big fat guts,

Suckin’ beer and wavin’ flags,

And kickin’ faggot butts!

We hate useless sentiments,

Or to be reminded of our fears,

We just like tons of cornchips

And good cold cans of beer.

We like fundamental religion,

Satellite rock-roll t.v.,

Women with tight zippers,

And the death penalty.

We like Ronald Reagan,

Nooclear devices by the score,

Death to Arab nationalists,

And oh, so much more!

So light the dollar-sized button,

Illuminate the statue bold and brass,

Bring on those tall ships sailin’,

Kill all who give us sass.

For we are brave Amerricuns,

Standin’ on freedom’ shore,

Got here in our rowboats,

Drove the red bastards from our door.

Yes, we are brave Amerricuns,

You can tell we’re that, you commy,

Because we got us guns and god,

Pickup trucks, baseball caps and Ronny!

Fill 'er Up!

One Nation Indivisible.
Graduation Parade

WAR and PEACE reprise

August 6, 2010

Older Letters to elected Officials and speculations on and about the subjects of war and recession, with links to today’s realities.  Not much has changed, except for some of the faces of the players.  Some issues are career opportunities for foot-dragging, do-nothing profiteers and cowardly politicians.  It is plain that the People must lead. 

ARAB-ISRAELI LOVE-FEST:

Ltr to Ron Wyden, Senator, OR. – January 8, 2009

The ancient Arab-Israeli confrontation is not worthy of support on either side.  Only some radical change of policy will break this savage inhumane cycle.  The Senate‘s recent unequivocal support of Israel is disgraceful.  Why do we support violence from anybody toward anybody?  Why not give peace a chance?  It has never been done, and we seem instead incapable of overcoming our religious, ethnic, and other generational prejudices.  We support people who coach their children to kill their enemies’ children.  This is madness.  It is insupportable.  The morass of the middle east does not reveal a champion for the United States to support, and Israel cannot claim the Holocaust as refuge or excuse for a holocaust of its own making that it refuses to stop.  Hamas‘ despicable actions are not an excuse for Israelis to murder, and the dead children they describe as collateral damage are not an acceptable cost for their security.

Murder and violence are what they are, not the stuff of virtue, right, or decent national policy – Israel’s, Palestine‘s, or the United States’. I urge you to re-think this issue outside of its historic insanity – and the personal blindness of culture and peer pressure.  Help devise an alternative approach to international murder and mayhem.  Help, too, to take the United States off its century-long war status.

Yours in sorrow and regret.   j

EXIT STRATEGY:

I am a veteran and senior citizen.

Ltr to Representative Earl Blumenauer, OR –  July 26, 2005   10:32 AM 

Subject: Please support House Joint Resolution 55, toward ending the Iraq occupation.

The war in Iraq has been a personal project for George Bush using American lives and treasure.  I believe he is ruining the world’s finest military.  For what?  He fights like the boneheaded English general Kitchener at Gallipoli, who observing the troops running uphill against Turkish guns said, “Stout fellows these Englishmen, they always run for the thickest part of the fence.”

Added to which, Bush’s war toys don’t work?  They do if they’re just designed to fill the pockets of his war-profiteering cronies; that’s what they accomplish.

I was glad to see that Rep. Jones is leading a bipartisan effort to press President Bush to create an exit strategy and timetable for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq.  Being an occupying force with no end in sight only fuels insurgency there.

I ask you to join the thirty other members of Congress already cosponsoring the resolution, and to support it by voting for it.  Thank you for your consideration.

IRAQ DEBATE:

Personal historical view – February 14, 2007; 3-1-08 rev.

Colin Powell said, “Don’t get into war unless it’s absolutely necessary, and when we do, go to win, no half measures,” but it doesn’t apply very much in real life.

As a Vietnam veteran, I know Johnson‘s phony Gulf of Tonkin Incident fished us into war (I was drafted).  He bought into the radical right’s communist containment scare.  The Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars wrote:

“In part, the process of deception has also been unintentional.  Much of the rhetoric and many of the actions that have accompanied our… involvement have been ad hoc responses to situations of stress: a cumulative series of reflex moves and lunges produced by deepening executive anxiety, defensiveness, alarm, desperation, and even a sensed state of siege.  Similarly in rhetoric, our ‘national honor,’ ‘[enemies] with nuclear weapons,’ and the goal of ‘peace with honor’ – all have misled the public.  At the root of executive deception is a vast amount of executive self-deception – or, .to put it bluntly, stupidity.”

America blithely ignores offers of friendship and makes enemies as fast as we can throw the first sucker punch.  This is not military sense; it’s a bad case of ideology and invention over reason and fact.  But, Americans don’t run out when the fight’s tough – see: Khe San.  We stood nearly twenty years (dating from Eisenhower putting the first American boots on the ground in the Fifties when the French got tossed out) while our military-industrial complex ruined Vietnam.  Our prolonged stay, and side invasions of Cambodia and Laos, generationally disrupted and destabilized Southeast Asia, distorted America’s rule of law, and led directly to the Bush leadership miasma.

We are now fighting a war for the health and life of the republic. Look at how the radical right Republicans and Tea Party and War Democrats have warped the nation they want us to fight for, die for, and honor. The self-destructive insanity of the radical right way of war makes it looks as if the bad guys have already won.

These are politically motivated wars, fought to extremes because of ill-informed egos and profit.  Bush’s indefensible “give war a chance” was disgusting; so is Obama’s current pursuit of it.  End the war now, no matter how wimpy it looks to arrested-adolescent bullyboys.

We’ve got a lot of positive work to do, and one dollar spent on peace really is worth ten wasted in war!

COST OF DOING WAR WITH YOU: – 3/21/08

Ltr to Rep Blumenauer; Recession and the War

The recession will force states to cut back their budgets.  Most likely, the cuts are going to affect the services that working families need to survive.

The Iraq war costs Americans more than $338 million a day.  We borrow $343 million every day to finance it.  Gas prices are close to double what they were before the war.  Oil hovers around $100 barrel [sic].

That money could help people who are hurting.  For less than we spend on the war, we could pay for affordable housing, healthcare, or education scholarships for hundreds of thousands.

Our skyrocketing debt is a growing drag on the economy, slowing recovery and robbing generations of a secure future.  Iraq sucks up the resources we need to make our economy work again.  MoveOn writes, “The tradeoffs are stark: bombs or unemployment insurance, billions for Halliburton and Blackwater, or help for people on the verge of losing their homes because of the sub prime meltdown?”

Economic forecasts will be grim as long as we continue to dump billions into a reckless war that has no end in sight.  The excessive and increasing degradation of our domestic economy is an attack on the nation.  Thank you for continuing to oppose this excessive, costly and ultimately criminal war.

LAST WORDS:

A secret reformation helped to create the United States of America; it eradicated many of the weeds of prejudice; a spirit of freedom and moderation was diffused.  The liberty of conscience was declared a common benefit, an inalienable right; the free government introduced the practice of toleration; and the narrow allowance of the laws was enlarged by the prudence and humanity of the times.  In the exercise, the mind understood the limits of its powers, and the words and shadows that might amuse the child can no longer satisfy adult reason. – Paraphrase – Gibbon, p1937.

Maybe human civilization has progressed; it depends upon what you’re measuring.  Human progress and perfectibility are two man-made ideals without much moral evidence to support them.

“One crowded hour of glorious life is worth an age without a name.” – Travis at the Alamo quoting Thomas Osbert Mordaunt, Verses Written During  the War, 1756-63.

“Sin sangre, y sin lagrimas, hay no es gloria.” – Santa Ana (“without blood, and without tears, there is no glory”).

“The urgent consideration of the public safety may undoubtedly authorize the violation of every positive law.  How far that or any other consideration may operate to dissolve the natural obligations of humanity and justice is terrible to contemplate.” – Gibbon, p830.

Politician 1:  “Why do politicians treat everyone else like idiots?”  Politician 2:  “Probably, because they voted for us in the first place.”  — Poirot, “The Incredible Theft,” BBC, David Suchet.

INTERESTING LINKS:
An American Hell: Don’t Turn the Page on History.  Facing the American world We Created, by Tom Engelhardt, www.TomDispatch.com. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/24

San Francisco Dems Tell Pelosi to Support McGovern ‘Afghan Exit’ Bill, by Tom Gallager, www.commondreams.orghttp://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/24-3

Can America Prevail on Afghanistan/Pakistan Front? No! It’s Obama’s war now, and a Vietnam-like quagmire is dead ahead.  by Helen Thomas, www.Minneapolis/St.PaulStarTribune  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/23-13

Blackwater Seeks Gag Order, by Jeremy Scahill.  www.thenation  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/07/23-2

Biden: Afghan War is ‘Worth the Effort’.  www.bbcnews  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/23-0

RADICAL and NOT RIGHT:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/23-2  Christian Right Aims to Change History Lessons in Texas Schools.  State’s education board to consider adding Christianity’s role in American history to curriculum [and dump all reference to labor unions among other exclusions; the larger issue is that Texas textbook decisions affect every state in the union; textbook monopoly ONLY consults Texas education board!], by Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian/UK
End of the World!

ONE NIGHT

July 30, 2009

Old Glory

Here is a tale from “Sidelong Glances:

One night while I was a Third Class Petty Officer in the Naval Security Group, stationed on Guam at Anderson Air Base, doing courier duty during the Vietnamese War, we briefed the usual officer – a lieutenant jg (junior grade, USN) to carry the manifest for the security messages in their canvas bag; and chose a First Class Petty Officer (USN) who was 8 hours out of the Mekong Delta to carry the .45-caliber Army Colt automatic to guard the materials.  It all went bing-bang-boom.  Routine stuff.

It was the mid-watch: midnight to 8 a.m., my least favorite.  I was on duty with Lieutenant J.G. Hardman, a Rear Admiral’s son in a concrete cinderblock building with a great big, massive steel vault to hold the security material, when suddenly, there came a banging on our door.

I looked through the peephole to see a Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Air Force and six APs (Air Force Police) armed with M-16’s.  The Lt. Colonel looked pissed and the APs looked grim.  I told Hardman what was out there.

“For God’s sake, open up!” he said.

I did so.  The Lt. Colonel glanced at me and said to Hardman,

“I’m the Duty Officer tonight.  I have nine aircraft to get in and out.  You people have a man on an aircraft with a .45.  He’s threatening to kill anyone who comes close to the plane.  If you people don’t take him out, I will.”

Hardman gulped and said,

“Legry, handle that.”

I gulped.  My mind was going a mile a minute.  We had just been issued .38 “Police Special” Smith & Wesson revolvers – the enlisted got long barrels, because we were supposed to hit something, and the officers got Jack Webb Dragnet stubbies because – I figure – they were just supposed to look cool.  But stubbies now had an advantage over the long barrel.

“Mr. Hardman, can I borrow your .38 stubby?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said, “Sure.”  He practically shoved the piece at me.  I had the hit he wanted me to go do the job as fast as possible so the Lt. Colonel wouldn’t yell at him anymore – echoes of Admiral Daddy?

I stuffed the stubby into the right pocket of my work jacket, my finger an instant away from the trigger, and (I hope to tell you) the cylinder fully loaded, and went down to the flight line.

I was the center of interest as the Lt. Colonel, APs, and Hardman watched with bemused excitement (maybe somebody would get shot!), but I wasn’t interested.  I was focused on not getting shot.

You have to make an effort to see this scene.

It’s dead black on a warm tropical Pacific night – the heart of the graveyard watch, maybe three in the morning.  The only illumination is electric spots on the airfield.  Inside a circle of light is the aircraft with the First Class poised in front of the cargo hatch, alert as a spooked cat, the .45 held in ready position.  Outside the circle of light are the baggage carts (there are a lot of fellows going home on this flight, lots of baggage), half-circled like a wagon train awaiting Indian attack, and behind all of those vehicles are crouching, cringing Guamanian baggage handlers, praying to god that they are not tall enough to be the outstanding target for the first round.

What to do?  I sauntered – yes, literally sauntered – out into the circle of light to reveal myself.  Inside, I’m ready to hit the deck.

“Do you remember me?” I asked the First Class.  “I’m one of the guys who just briefed you.”

“Yeah,” he says, and I can tell he’s relieved.  I think, he thinks, the Guamanians are VietnameseAsians, yellow-brown men are all suspect.  This guy just came out of the hottest zone in the Delta nine hours ago; he’s still in combat.  These baggage guys could be Cong.

“Can I come over and talk?” I ask like a friend.  All this time, and all throughout, I’ve got my finger on the trigger of that stubby .38 in my right coat pocket.  It’s pointed straight at his heart.  I’m thinking if I get close enough, I will put this guy’s lights out, if he makes a fraction of a hostile move.

“Please!” he says, and I can tell he’s truly scared.  My sympathy for him charges.  I walk straight toward him –slow and measured – I don’t want to spook him.  I get close.  I say,

“Hey, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I guess they forgot to tell you something when they briefed you.”

“Oh?” he asks.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’m supposed to come down here and relieve you and you’re supposed to go back to the shack and do whatever.”

“Oh?” he says.

“Yeah,” I say.  “I’ll take the piece and stand the guard until you get back.”  He looks incredibly relieved.  He surrenders the piece gratefully and I resist a heartfelt sigh.  That damned big-barrel .45 has been in the middle of my chest since I started this walk.

He walks away to get whatever he “missed” at the briefing.  I watch the APs close around him like bears around raw meat.

I signal to the baggage handlers.  Come do your thing and they come, relieved, happy.

It nags me.  I think, the poor SOB.  He just got out of hell, he’s trying to do his duty, he’s scared out of his mind, and now his countrymen are arresting him.

I feel sorry for him to this day.  I hope he got in and out of the bear’s mouth fast and clean, but I will never know.  I hope he got home okay.  I did give my own back to Hardman later, but that’s another story.

So, many years later, waiting in Coos Bay for a snowbound bus to arrive from Bend, Oregon, I struck up conversation with a young veteran who was working in a Veteran’s Hospital.  He was an Iraq War vet – a mortar man with two tours behind him and a discharge for medical reasons.  His nerves were shot.  He was helping other vets struggling to recover some semblance of normalcy after shocking physical injuries.  He told me that he did not go to therapy.  He’d gone through a tough time and he had nightmares and that was just the way of it, wasn’t it?  So, I told him about that night on the airfield so many years ago.  Told him about my own trauma.  Told him about the genuine relief it was to share those things with others who had endured similar or worse – definitely worse, for those people knew things that made my own experience dim in comparison.  I told him about wondering if that young sailor had ever made it home from the Mekong.  It touched this young Iraq War vet in ways I could not feel.  I saw it in his eyes, and later, when I stood in line waiting to board my bus, I saw him looking at me, and our eyes met, and he smiled, and I saw the same relief that had been in that First Class Petty Officer’s eyes so many years before when I took the .45 from his hands, and sent him to his fate.

I guess that’s what inspires me to recall this today: my own responsibility, my own need to lay down the spear and come home.

It really is time to end the war.  All war.  Jl: 7-09

ONE LINK:

Sen. Russ Feingold: White House Is Whistling Past Afghan Graveyard By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation. Posted July 30, 2009.  In 2001, Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., famously and courageously stood up as the lone senator to vote against the Patriot Act.  On July 21, 2009, he did it again, casting the lone vote opposing Sen. Joe Lieberman’s, I-Conn., amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization bill that immediately authorizes an expansion of the military by 30,000 troops. In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Feingold says he “did not believe it was in the best interest of our troops or our national security.” The measure passed 93-1.

http://www.alternet.org/world/141606/sen._russ_feingold%3A_white_house_is_whistling_past_afghan_graveyard_/

Never Again!

HOLY GRAIL, BABOON HEART

July 10, 2009
Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Pastiche Der Nibelungen.

Ammunition for discussions, harangues and loud debates

BEYOND DAN BROWN: The DeVinci Load. The so-called Holy Grail is the object of legendary quest for Arthurian knights and may be a “wide-mouthed or shallow vessel,” although its precise etymology (in the true literal sense of the word) remains uncertain, and small wonder. The Grail was probably inspired by classical or Celtic mythologies, which abound in horns of plenty, magic life-restoring caldrons, and the like. In Finland, the pre-Christian Kalevala features the sampo, which might be a pillar that holds up the sky, or a mill to produce salt, meal and gold, or a talisman of happiness and prosperity. Take your pick.

The first extant text (or more aptly invention) about the Grail is Chrétien de Troyes’ late 12th century unfinished romance Parceval or Le Conte du Graal, which combined the religious with the fantastic. In the 13th century Robert de Borron’s poem extended the Christian significance of the legend, linking the Grail with Christ’s cup at the Last Supper and with Joseph of Aramea whom he said used it to catch Jesus’ blood as he hung on the cross. In the same century, Wolfram von Esenbach’s Parzival* gave the Grail profound and mystical expression as a precious stone fallen from Heaven (sampo, anyone?). Malory’s late 15th century Le Morte D’Arthur transmitted the fanciful Grail essence to English-speaking readers.

In the story-telling invention, the quest itself became a search for mystical union with God. Through various permutations by many different writers over several hundreds of years, the Grail theme formed a culminating point for the Arthurian romance. It’s a good story device; it doesn’t really matter what it really is, as long as it stands for truth, justice and the “right” way. Its physical presence is just like the True Cross, Longinus’ Spear, St. Michael’s pickled peritoneum, or any other “holy” relic: e.g. entrepreneurs started fabricating bits of the true cross as soon as they noticed a market for it – in fact, selling bits and pieces obviously would part the cross out, so they invented the miracle of overnight renewal; as we’ve seen from Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the DeVinci Code, and Newsweek, people are still making big bucks selling new baubles to hang on the old artificial tree, which is patently, the Grail’s only real value. When you get right down to it, it’s buying a box of air, isn’t it? That’s the way faith works, so have fun with the storyline.

Incidentally, Christ is the Greek Chrestos – a mystery cult popular with the poor and lower middle class of the 1st century C.E. Working people infected their middle class masters with it. Female heads of households were particularly susceptible to its egalitarian message. Self-proclaimed “Apostle” Paul of Tarsus cobbled Chrestos with the historical Jesus movement as a sales package for Gentiles (infuriating the Jesus movement because he co-opted and lied about their guy; of such petty human foibles are great religious movements conceived), but that’s another story.

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* Parzival by Wolfram Von Eisenbach, 13th century C.E. Much ado about fabrics, flags, one’s place at the table, head-busting by foolish men for foolish ladies, and the romantic search for the fabulous grail – the holiest snipe hunt for the silliest prize: the Americas-Stanley-Wimbledon cup of immortality available only for unblemished boobery.  “He’d paid his debt to joy, his life was but a dying.” – Wolfram Von Eisenbach, Parzival.

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MOURNING IN AMERICA: In time, the plastic fantastic mourning that passes for genuine grief will dim.  Society’s itch to have its heroes, even if it has to lie like hell to make them, will be satisfied for the time being.  It will be trotted out again with the next “must-vent” crisis, and we shall have walls of flowers, teddy bears, and balloons – everything in short, nothing short of a full Super Bowl extravaganza – and many blathering speeches shy of substance and dripping with hypocrisy and crocodile tears, mindless chest thumping and blubbering, murmured prayers and homilies, all accepted as available.  Flags will fly.  Guns will boom.  Vendors and trinket salesmen will profit.  Blimps will display large advertising messages and rockets will light the night sky with red, blue, green, yellow and, Lordy loo, who knows what color pyrotechnics?  The body politic will sleep steadier, enervated and expended by a good old-fashioned group grope and mope. This has to be one of the silliest societies on record.

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REVERY: We’ve come a long way, you and I.  Thousands upon thousands of miles, and yet we’re still far short of our destination.  Where are we going anyway?  Haven’t we already been there?  The universe is a big round circle in a dimension so large that we poor mites cannot see the curve.  It looks like a straight line to us, but so does time, and time is a repetition of itself, always telling us the same thing.  As each generation is born, the next arises, and each of those, and all of those millions more, grows by the same learning process, through the same biology, give or take a tiny percent of one gene, which seems to specify skin tone and what we call racial differences.  It’s the same as classifying men by the size of their nipples and finally as insignificant. We all begin as fertilized eggs.  We are one with the chicken and the salamander, the fish and the spider. There is not one atom within us that is remarkable for being unique.  There is nothing unique in the universe, except individual discovery.

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SOME LINKS WORTH VIEWING:

Washington Diarist by Leon Wieseltier, Accommodationism: “One of the most troublesome qualities of reason is that it is not always reasonable.” http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=cf4e433c-60bd-4184-abc3-fc372c7f8304

Broken Promises: Health Care Deals Struck in Secrecy http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-1

Law Will Let Afghan Husbands Starve Wives Who Withhold Sex http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/07/10-4

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FINAL WORD: “We’ve never done it with a baboon‘s heart!” Hector Elizondo, ER, 9-29-94

Robin the Old: One Brunch Only