Friday, March 24, 2006

a lot of stuff running through my head

i've been thinking alot lately, and i'm beginning to think that war does a lot more harm than good.

i've been listening to Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King. now, i don't know if he was in viet nam or not, or just did some prodigious research, but this book touched deeply on the experience of the viet nam vet, and the protestors as well. and just from my own reading, and listening to vets who will talk (and they are few, most won't talk about their experiences over there), i've come to a few conclusions.

viet nam fucked a lot of people up. agent orange. napalm. white phosphorous. the traps set up by the viet cong. the atrocities done by both sides. mai ling (i know i'm spelling it wrong, but i'm trying, ok?). the tet offensive. i saw a movie once, a few years back, called, We Were Soldiers Once, & Young. once again, i dont know how realistic it was, but god, it gave me new appreciation for jungle combat. i'm beginning to think the people that died over there got out easy. the cancers. the flashbacks. the nightmares. the suicides. the men & women who are unable to function as normal human beings. i wonder, if you took a poll, how many homeless people are vets.

and then there's the gulf war. my little brother is a gulf war vet. he, too, refuses to say much about his time in the sand. and there are ramifications of his time in Iraq. his short term memory is absolutely for shit. his saying is "i've slept since then." if he has slept since then, the little things do not stick in his mind. he learned to smoke in Saudi, while waiting for the ground war to start. now, bob is an asthmatic. not a good habit to pick up. and he's having a hell of a time kicking it. and he knows lots of people who have similar problems.

and then there's the iraqi vets of today. i read a piece the other day about a man who lost his right eye, and 80% of his short term memory. his wife has to remind him of appointments. he can't even carry a notebook or palm pilot to remind himself because he loses them. and he's had to have a medical discharge. can't have a soldier who can't recall if he's fired 2 shots or 3, eh? i also saw a piece where there are 26 marine amputees who have returned to ACTIVE DUTY! i'm sorry, but there are some balls, there. one man lost both his hands, and while he can no longer have combat duty, he is teaching new recruits martial arts. and there are several officers who have lost legs, etc, who have returned to active duty. while this is inspiring, i sometimes wonder if it was necessary. these men are scarred for life. i saw a piece a few months back where one man lost an arm, and a leg (i'm not real certain on those details, it's the next bit that stuck with me) who tried to commit suicide because he couldnt' see how he could be of any use to his family. fortunately, he was saved, and is now undergoing therapy. and there's aprogram where they build houses for vets for free (kind of a soldierly habitat for humanity). but the cost. i don't know anybody who hasn't at least known someone who lost someone over there. they just named a street for a young man who died the same day his son was born. and he never knew.

i know i don't make political comments, as a rule, but felt i had to say this. is the cost too high? body armor is saving more and more soldiers, but now they're getting more life-changing injuries. paralysis. loss of limbs. loss of mind. is it worth it?

and i still support every soldier whereever they are. it's not their choice to get sent out to war.


Janine said...

some very good points there. I think that most women think that war is a bad think in general (it must be our motherly instincts I guess)I have to say that this war is beginning to remind me more and more of the vietnam conflict :-(
We have people over there as well as I am sure you know. An old school pal of my sons is just about to go back for a second time - If I was his parents I would be worried sick as well as proud (if you see what I mean)

Bear said...

I think a while back we discussed just this Moo.

War is... just war, nothing noble about it, we send off our youngest, strongest and bravest, filled with political lies to do the dirty work for those who only appreciate the bottom line without factoring in the human misery, not only to the combatants but to all those involved. I love when the Pentagon talks about 'collateral damage'. It is such a 'nice' term for the women and children who just happen to live within the blast zone, who are simply going about their life when 'the big one' comes down their chimney.

As you know I speak from experience having done two tours in the Middle East and seen up close and personal what war can do to REAL people. It is not a pretty picture.
Personally I think the next war we should just send the leaders out onto a field someplace all by themselves with hand weapons and let them settle it. Will they have the balls? Not on your nelly! It is easy for them to sit in Washington, Ottawa, London etc and push the buttons, the only courageous ones in a war are those who put their lives on the line every minute of every day they are in theatre and those who stand up and say this war is Bull**it!

I would die a thousand deaths if one of my sons volunteered to go to war and certainly consider the alternatives if they were drafted!

*hugs* to all the soldier moms, dads , wives, husbands, children and relatives waiting anxiously for their loved one to return from this senseless war.


Trixie said...

I hear you. I decided that as a mother-to-be and the daughter/sister/niece/grandchild of military men I needed to do something that showed how much you can love a soldier without necessarily loving the military action. As a nation, we must have soldiers to patrol and defend our borders and our allies. It's a fact. So how do I show my deep appreciation that someone's child would so willingly sacrifice themselves for this goal? How do I acknowledge the commitment of my family members? I do something very very small.

I write letters and send emails to soldiers through and once in a while send a care package.

I have 3 email buddies, 1 letter writing buddy, and I receive a different "one time only" name every Thursday to whom I send a special letter of TLC.

It doesn't cost much. A regular stamp. A postcard.

It makes me feel good. I think of how my father would have loved more mail during Vietnam. I think of how my grandparents saved their letters during WWII. I remember sending care packages to my brother while I was an undergraduate and he was in the Gulf War. I know that any child I have will run the same risk of serving his or her country. I want some lady somewhere to send a card to my child.

Trixie said...

Oh yeah - my Dad freaked when my brothers joined. He was so angry that it took months for him to calm down. Ultimately he could not send his sons off without ensuring that they knew they were loved. He could not part with them in anger. They are all on good terms now but my father - like Bear/Moo said earlier - would "die a 1000s deaths if" his son went to war. Well one did but he returned. My father aged badly but he honored his son. He still does..and because they have this bond, they can talk about it. It helps to talk about it.

My buddies there now tell me how sad it is to see the children. How they long to fight in an open field and just get it over with 1:1 rather than fighting in alley ways and watching kids get mowed down in the process.

So we hear you Moo/bear. We hear you.