Same job, different uniform.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: We Will Remember

It's easy to forget, isn't it?

Thanks for people like my uncle and father who remind us. I guess that's what we have to do. Remind each other over and over.

Uncle Tom sent me this: 'Miracle' Marine loses final battle. I read it. We need more men like him, and I need to be less of a pansy.

A few days ago we went to "Theology on Tap" at a local bar (cool) and a Roman Catholic priest from Pierre talked about his recent tenure as an Army Chaplain.

Today's soldiers, it appears, are prepped for battle by being exposed to the methods of torture and execution the enemy employs. This particular priest was shown what the commanding officer told him was "The G Version" of what the soldiers see...and it included footage of beheadings; Iraqi soldiers being pushed off buildings and dragged through the street for being insubordinate; men getting their hands cut off.

Not suprisingly, just being there was, he described, the biggest part of his ministry. The unfathomable emotional and psychiatric needs these soldiers presented has stayed with me. I was struck, again, that the war on terrorism is unlike any we've fought. Our soldiers are fighting enemies who don't wear uniforms; they hide behind civilians. They don't care about their countrymen; they will sacrifice them on a whim.

There are few still alive who can relate to what today's troops have been exposed to.

And we have to remember them too.

Dear God, don't let us treat our armed forces the way my parents' generation treated Vietnam veterans! Forbid it.


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Blogger JEB said...

You say "We Will Remember." But we don't. That seems to be the ever gathering tragedy of America today. It is horrible what the American soldier is up against in Iraq, but I dare say it is not without precident.

The Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and the Japanese during WWII were no less viscious were they?

Don't get me wrong - the jihadists terrify me. But, I wonder if we just forget. If we forget what the GI's saw when they liberated the concentration camps at the end of WWII - "ditches full of bodies, rooms full of baby shoes, fingernail marks on the walls of gas chambers." (

Sometimes, when I hold my 17 month old, naked and fresh out of a bath, never more vulnerable, it strikes me that Jewish mothers held their own precious babies like this just before they were all murdered. They were forced to strip themselves, strip their babies and then they were herded into extermination chambers, holding their naked babies - holding their tender, soft little bodies up against their own naked, trembling skin as they realized their fate and worse - the fate of the baby in their arms. I mean, "roomfuls of baby shoes." What kind of evil has been loosed on the world when men and women can send enough babies to the death that there are ROOMFULS OF THEIR SHOES?

The Japanese used live human beings for bayonette practicee. They beheaded thousands. And that's what they did to Chinese civilians. What about the Bataan Death March?

Then there is, more recently, the Viet Cong - strapping dynamite to small children, digging concealed pits filled with sharpened, poisened sticks in order that American GIs would fall into them and impale themselves - if the actual impaling didn't kill them, the poison would.

Finally - what about September 11, 2001 when men and women jumped out of high rise buildings and plunged to the ground, choosing that death over the more hideous reality of incineration that waited just behind them.

I don't know- maybe I'm getting jaded in my old age, but I think we do forget - over and over and over again.

How else to explain the people who think we are dealing with dictators who can be reasoned with? That we can just sit down and talk and they will act like civilized people in a democracy. Hell, even civilized people in a democracy these days can't be reasoned with.

Who look back at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and think America was the bad guy. The French think we're pigs. The rest of Europe doesn't think much better of us. We tore down walls, dropped food over whole countries, ensured that the artistic culture of a continent was largely restored, and soaked the ground of nations with our own blood.

But it's still not enough for most people to remember.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Blogger JEB said...

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008


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