America’s military involvement in Vietnam began by sending a few advisers, this just a few years after the end of the Korean conflict (read: undeclared war). We all know how that war ramped up and cost the lives of over 58,000 Americans and untold numbers of Vietnamese. Actually, it’s still killing and maiming people, due to violently re-discovered landmines and the long term consequences of aerial applications of the toxic, carcinogenic defoliant, Agent Orange.
Since then we’ve sent our men and women to undeclared wars in Kosovo, Grenada, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan – where else? We’ve engaged in near-constant war for so long that most Americans now living will be unable to identify more than a small period of time when we weren’t at war, this in spite of the complete absence of the ability to rationally justify most of those wars on the basis of real facts (in contrast to hawkish fantasy facts).
Our men and women are always in harm’s way. That glib term means that others are shooting at them, trying to kill them and sometimes succeeding. When that happens, a piece of the rest of us dies, too. Some of us feel it deeply; others refuse to acknowledge the reality and become ever more inured to it and apathetic, thereby enabling the next war.
As our troops were engaged in the unnecessary George W. Bush/Dick Cheney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I penned the poem below. On this Memorial Day when we remember our military dead, consider how much lasting good those wars have done for America and the world. Then consider who has benefited – that is to say, follow the money.
Be sure to attend the Memorial Day ceremonies in your town. It matters that you show up.
Where Did the Sixties Go?
Well, some of us were lucky then,
Some not so lucky, went to war
And some of them came back in bags
And we died just a little more. America was torn apart, As war drained drafted blood away. With no draft now the howls are gone, And men die just the same today. What's happened to us all since then? Have we become what we protested? We got our houses, made our cash And made the choices we elected. Yet we're the leaders now, the ones Who move and shake and set the sails. How can it be the ship of state Seems once again steered on to fail? The things we knew were wrong back then Are still as wrong, can't make them fly. And doing more won't make them right, Nor twisting truth to justify. That credibility gap is here. We know when we are being snowed. Perhaps we're just too cushy now, To protest all the lies we're told. We humans are the only ones To rationalize, to sing false songs, Or need to do it to protect Our fragile selves from being wrong. Well, some of us are lucky now, Some not so lucky, gone to war. And some of them come back in bags, And we die just a little more.
Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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