What Has Changed?

VIetnam War picReading time – 77 seconds  .  .  .

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.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2024 by Jack Altschuler
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2 Responses to What Has Changed?
  1. Todd R. VonOhlen Reply

    If war solved problems, we would be problem free by now.

  2. Jim Altschuler Reply

    While I certainly agree with this posting and with the remembrances we all should have of those who served in our armed services over the last 239 years, I think there are others who should be remembered as well.

    Just during the last 100 years there have been the likes of Woodrow Wilson whose League of Nations led to the creation of the United nations; Franklin D. Roosevelt who led the country out of the worst economic (and psychological) depression in “recent” history and through World War II when a lot of people on the other side of the planet tried to enslave or kill most of the rest of the people; Dwight D. Eisenhower who tried to forewarn us about the military/industrial complex — we didn’t listen or learn very well.

    And there was John F. Kennedy who tried to change things for the better and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who tried to do the same thing a different way. And there was Robert F. Kennedy who never got the chance to change things. And there were a lot of other well known people plus the hoards of little-known people both before and since — Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln — who should be remembered along with those who have served in the services, people who have made our lives and lifestyles possible.

    Remember all of them, too.