Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day


When I was a handsome lad of 20 and in Navy Hospital Corpsman School, our CO announced that all of us would be doing three or four day stints on six different wards at San Diego's old Balboa Hospital. The first ward I went to was the burn ward. I did'nt do much, but noticed what a howling torture burns are, especially the daily removal of gauze from the burned skin. The unit had six Marines, all of whom got their wounds in Beirut when they happened to be in the barracks blown up by a jihadi car bomber. Over the next few days, I got to know the patients in the unit as people. Most of these guys were seriously maimed and would never lead productive lives, never know the warmth of a wife at night, never hear the pitter patter of rug rats. I was never in any combat, but nonetheless it struck me that these guys had sacrificed everything they had and would ever have for that mission. Whenever I hear people describe sacrifice, I remember the burn ward and know in my heart what real sacrifice is all about. To my mind, the most important of all holidays is not Christmas, Thanksgiving or Labor Day, yet these days are paid days off at my employer. Today was not. I was saddened that so many of my co-workers had no idea it was a holiday today; everything was open, including our office. Most just shrugged their shoulders and went about their day's work. Far too few of us have seen what I have seen. The only "Happy Veterans Day" I got was from another vet in the office. I fear that their sacrifice is being watered down in our nation. As for me, I remember.

21 comments:

  1. I am filled with sadness by your post as well. Memorial Day seems to overshadow Veteran's Day. I think this also makes me angry when I think why? Why did these young men have to suffer and die to protect the ruling class? What war was necessary? I have never understood war. You are a bit of a historian Mr K would you enlighten me? What was WW1, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan about in your estimation? How about we go back as far as the Civil War and the Revolutionary War? To replace one ruling class with another while these poor souls gave away their bodies and there lives. Let's go back as far in time as when war was for conquest and to the victor went the spoils. Isn't that what all war is really about? Help me to understand.

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  2. Our wars were fought for many different reasons, many of which now seen quaint and rather silly, but in their time mattered. WWI was to help our British cousins from bleeding themselves to death in the Flanders mud. WWII was a just war against aggressive powers in Germany and Japan. Korea was also a just war against an aggressive North Korea & China. Vietnam was (for us) about stopping communism, but for the Vietnamese it was'nt about communism, it was more about national independence from a series of foreign occupiers, with us being the last ones. Iraq was about two things IMHO.. first and foremost securing oil supply. Secondly it was thought that since nowhere in the Middle East is there a democracy, that a stable, democratic Iraq would inspire neighboring peoples to fight for democracy. It might yet happen, but I doubt it. Afghanistan was after 9/11 and was about toppling the Taliban and Al Qaida, which we did. We should've simply left a military dictator, given billions to aid groups to help the people and left. Afghanistan is a hopeless quagmire; in the end, we will leave the same way the Ruskies did.. worn out and with cheering jihadis shooting rifles into the air.

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  4. Queen - your rant was highly offensive to me personally in an enormous way.

    My extended family on my Father's side (Poland) lost almost 100 members during WWII, to the Nazis mainly, and also to the Russian Communists. I won't go into all the details, as it would take a book.

    All I can say is your understanding of history is very very very weak. And Buddhist philosophy, is, to put it mildly, hopelessly naive bullshit.

    The Buddhists will be the first to be slaughtered in any conflict, as they try to preach "non-violence" while they are being killed. Good luck with that, you'll need it.

    Ideals are always worth fighting for, as there are always evil people in the world, who seek to further their evil ends with violence and to oppress others. "Non-violence" will leave you dead in the ditch, while the victors will go on to write the history books, where the losers won't even be mentioned.

    I had to re-write this comment numerous times, as yours made me very very angry.

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  6. Queen, I will accept your apology. Please don't stop Blogging, this does not mean everything else you might say is wrong. I will apologize for calling Buddhism naive bullshit, it has many features that I like actually. But the non-violence thing, I don't agree with, for obvious reasons.

    Religion and politics are live wires, almost nobody will agree with what another says on those topics, and all you will do is make them angry. Best to avoid them when making comments, especially religion.

    You have the right in our democracies to follow whatever philosophy you wish. In principle, Buddhism is a fine thing, I just think it is naive in the world we have with people like the Nazis in it. I don't agree at all with Christian fundamentalists, or Muslim fundamentalists, or most religious people in genral, blind belief is almost always wrong.

    In fact, I have stated that I think all religions should be banned, as they cause wars, more than any other reason.

    I found your comment insulting to my dead family members, who obviously would not agree with it. And they were all Catholics, a religion where the Pope says much the same things on most wars. But the Catholic Church is also responsible for vast wrongs, like the 'Crusades' or 'The Inquisition' etc or even their stance on abortion and the child-molesting priests, which is why I don't consider myself a Catholic, except by birth. By default, I would get married in a Catholic church, baptize my kids on one, and my funeral will be in one, hopefully a long time in the future yet, but that does not mean I agree with everything they say.

    I quite enjoy 'The Hive' actually, and the others who comment there, or I would not comment there daily. Let's just agree to disagree on religion, and move on. There is still trading to be done. I certainly don't want to go back to Mish's Blog, I read the comments there, and mostly the same idiots are still saying the same stupid things.

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  8. Mr K can you delete some of the comments above that are not pertinent to the discussion and and were really just between my and GAW? Also delete this comment as well? I am a little embarrassed about the whole thing and since it is over I want it to all just go away.

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  9. I think my frustration is that Veteran's day is not a big deal and it should be. So many people (including my own family) fought and died in WW2. My uncle was a POW. One of my uncles killed himself as he could not handle the PTSD after returning home. So Veterans Day is a big deal and it is the evil men like Hitler and Stalin who start wars that I detest.

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  10. I like the idea of banning all religions! But evil would find another outlet, that is for sure.

    So, anyone seen a good movie lately..?

    I am going to have a natural burial by the way. Natural burials are just what they say, and no religion involved. Maybe even direct disposal..direct disposal means you are cremated by the funeral parlour, no funeral , no relatives standing around mourning...life goes on on and you are forgotten inside 3 generations anyway ( unless you do something amazing or write something amazing) ...leave the 5-10K to charity instead of the undertaker and the church!

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  11. "In Australia, the deceased are cremated in a coffin supplied by the undertaker.[citation needed] Reusable or cardboard coffins are becoming popular, with several manufacturers now supplying them.[citation needed] If cost is an issue, a plain, particle-board coffin (known in the trade as a "chippie") will be offered. Handles (if fitted) are plastic and approved for use in a cremator. Coffins vary from natural cardboard or unfinished particle board (covered with a velvet pall if there is a service) to solid timber; most are veneered particle board.[citation needed]"

    Cremations can be "delivery only," with no preceding chapel service at the crematorium (although a church service may have been held) or preceded by a service in one of the crematorium chapels. Delivery-only allows crematoria to schedule cremations to make best use of the cremators, perhaps by holding the body overnight in a refrigerator. As a result, a lower fee is applicable. Delivery-only may be referred to in industry jargon as "west chapel service."[citation needed]
    wiki

    All this stuff made me look up cremation history, funny Australia got a listing!
    One of my very dearest friends was the undertaking biz as a psychologist! What a woman! She did bereavement counselling and helped run the company, her husbanddied when she was 32 leaving her with 3 boys on a large cattle property. The husband was managing the property for a large UK firm ( maybe Country Estates??) so she had no asset to sell so...off to UNI! She later became very good friends with Elisabeth Kubler Ross and read one of the eulogies at her funeral! She has given me a real good insight into death and dying...no big deal really, just a birth and life is normal so is death!
    ( it's all the stuff in between that counts)

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  12. "People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within." Kubler Ross

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  13. What a nice poem Shaza.

    Mr K - On Veterans Day - In Canada we call it 'Remembrance Day' and our treatment of it lately seems to be the mirror opposite of what you describe in America.

    In Canada, most TV & radio stations etc talked about nothing but, all day. Ceremonies at various cenotaphs (war memorials) were extremely well attended by serious crowds, and carried live on almost all media outlets. The entire nation stopped at 11 AM for 2 minutes of silence.

    Our veterans are honored as heroes.They have a program where the older vets from the Legion go around to the grade schools in October and early November and speak to the children about their experiences with war, WWII & Korea now. Sadly I think we have no more WWI veterans.

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  14. In the '80s & '90s things were not like that. We had a lot of apathy about Remembrance Day, ceremonies were not as well attended by the public, it seemed most people were not very interested.

    It all began to change since 2001 with our involvement in the Afghan War. Our public were fully behind the war, except for a small minority of leftist wankers, but they pretty much are against everything anyway. But our public were also against the Iraq War, except for a small minority on the far-right, our equivalent to your neo-cons. Our Liberal Prime Minister Chretien refused to join the Iraq War, and nobody here thinks he made the wrong decision.

    Canada has had 156 dead, and hundreds wounded in Afghanistan, which is a small number, compared to American casualties, but each one is honored as a hero here.

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  15. Our war dead are first honored with a 'ramp ceremony' in Kandahar, as they are loaded on a transport plane. Then they land at Trenton, Ontario airbase, where the family, and many high level politicians, and large public crowds meet the plane for an unloading ceremony.

    Then they travel in a hearse with police escort and the family following in a limo, a small convoy. They take Hwy 401, which has been renamed "The Highway of Heroes" (many signs with poppies) to Toronto, for an official autopsy. Along the way, large crowds, including local police and fire fighters in their vehicles with lights flashing, gather at each and every highway overpass as the convoy passes. It is covered live on local TV and radio, and written up in the newspapers. Many wave Canadian flags and cheer as the hearse passes.

    When they have the funeral in the soldiers home town, across Canada, huge crowds turn out. It is covered live on local TV and radio, and will make the national news everywhere that day as a top story. Often the locals will rename a street or local landmark to honor the fallen soldier.

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  16. I think your situation in the US has to do with war fatigue, in a large part. And most of that would stem from the Iraq War, which only a few stupid neo-cons can still say with a straight face was a justifiable war in a noble cause.

    Equally to blame, there are the pathetic practices adopted by the Bush Administration, because of Vietnam. They made it so media coverage of war casualties was discouraged, reporters could not cover the transport plane landing with the dead etc. They are not reported in national media, only in their local home towns. CNN might say "3 Americans were killed in a Taliban attack", if that, in passing, but names and home towns are never mentioned.

    All of this disgraceful behavior because they fear the public might become anti-war if they saw the casualties reported on the news. Yet the public are smarter than the politicians, as support for the Iraq War has been steadily decreasing for years in an unbroken trend.

    If the US had not gotten involved in Iraq, which was merely an ego project by GWB, the situation might be more like in Canada. When there is a feeling the war is the 'right thing to do', the public will support it.

    Support for the Afghan War is falling in both the US and Canada, here most do not think we should be fighting there any more. But our public support and honor the troops regardless.

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  17. After all, the Afghan War has now dragged on longer than WWII, and there will be no victory for NATO. Just like the Russians before us, NATO will be out of Afghanistan after 10 years, more or less, in defeat.

    I see much talk of 2014 as the end of the campaign, after that only the US will remain in Afghanistan, and even that is doubtful. The public will want to see an end to it, and Obama may announce withdrawal in 2012, as I think was his plan all along.

    Of course the bran dead neo-cons will oppose withdrawal, but with their record of enormous incompetence, I doubt few will support them. After the Iraq debacle, and the endless goal post moving in Afghanistan, they have no credibility left. Afghanistan should have been a 2-3 year campaign, and then ended.

    We are never going to win a 'war' against what amounts to a tribal insurgency now in Afghanistan. Than country is not known as the 'Graveyard of Empires' fro no reason. The Afghan tribes have managed to defeat every foreign Empire that was foolish enough to invade, since the time of Alexander the Great, down to the British, Russians and now NATO.

    I see a news report today in fact, on BBC, West cannot defeat al-Qaeda, says UK forces chief and you can apply that to Afghanistan equally as well. The Afghans will have to deal with the Taliban themselves, one way or the other, outsiders can't. And that should be blindingly obvious by now, to all except the ones who refuse to see the plain truth.

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