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November 11, 2003.
Comments on "He was guarding God.":
That is simply the most stunning comment I have seen on the war so far.
Thank you, Patrick. I've not been reading Breslin's columns, though I've heard about them. I need to start.
Too bad no one in this administration is paying heed.
I can remember reading Breslin back in the 70s, in the NY Daily News. The summer city was broiling and Son of Sam was stalking the back alleys and lover's lanes and Breslin did as much as anyone to focus our attention on our common humanity, on the myriad threads that tied our lives together and made us a community as opposed to a group of self-indulgent, uncaring strangers. I'm glad to see that after all these years he's still telling it straight, getting at the truth and holding it up to the light for us to see. Thanks for sharing this piece.
The dead aren't the only soldiers this adminstration has already forgotten. I read an article about the hundreds of wounded who wait weeks to recieve treatment. It's shocking and shameful.
My dad fought in Korea. From what I can tell, it's closer to WWII than Vietnam, not necessarily in reality, but in the minds of the soldiers and the stories our culture tells about it. It seems generational, too, this mindset.
My dad thinks every war that America pursues is a *good* war - Iraq, Panama, Vietnam could have been won, etc. He's just very pro-military and pro-America. I think this is wrong and dangerous, but I don't argue with him. I let him think that I basically agree with him, out of respect for what he has seen.
It's a mess of feelings. I mean, a military that unquestioningly enacts the nation's policies is necessary - leaving the political decisions to the elected. But at the same time, I get this feeling that if the world's soldiers would just refuse to do this anymore, we could stop. Anyway, I know that's ridiculous.
But the truth is, no matter what a soldier thinks about a war, or the politicians say, or what we believe, there are those who actually die. Their lives end, right there on some nowhere street. Reading that list of soldiers in the article, with the tiniest little description of each; their hometown, family left behind...that was too much for me.
And we live in a democracy. Even if it doesn't feel like it, this is what we've come up with, and it is a country ruled by and for, us. We are responsible. People have and continue to die for, and because of, us. And I want to thank them. And to say I'm sorry.
WW2? I don't think so, nor do most of the guys I know.
But then again, I am not in the Infantry, and the guys I spend time with are all from the reserves and the Guard, so they probably aren't a great slice of the Army either (if one is trying to find the, "typical", reaction.
Viet-nam isn't the way we look at it either. It's, "The Box," or, "the desert," or just Iraq. We can swap stories with Viet-nam vets, but our war is not their war, and both of us know it.
We don't have jungles, we have city streets. We don't have firebases, we have chunks of towns and old military sites (unless we are perched in tents in the desert).
Perhaps most telling, of all the differences, we have sattellite phones; and television, computers; and internet, we get to hear what is going on in, "The World". For good or ill the real difference (in my opinion) is not that the war is in your living rooms, but that some of the living rooms are in the war.
And I think a lot of troops don't think it is worth what they are giving up, to chase after the chimera of making a democracy in Iraq.
The URL I've linked to is my brother's fotopages site, which is mostly British scenery and buildings, and includes the Remembrance Sunday Parade at Ely, which is here:
Ely, Remembrance Sunday
He takes some good pictures, I think.