Vietnam and the US patriot

I am of the age to have served in the military during the war in Vietnam. Instead, I joined the anti-war movement and avoided being drafted into the army. Now I see many young and old people being accused of being unpatriotic for protesting our armed forces being in Iraq and Afghanistan. Makes my blood boil to see them judged so. and here is why.

My older neighbors and friends went into the armed forces and fought in Vietnam. Most of them returned with regrets that serving their country meant blowing up someone else’s. They regretted calling in air strikes on entire villages. They regretted interrogation techniques which amounted to torture. They regretted seeing US GIs blown to bits, driven on to punji sticks,  and disemboweled.

They regretted participating in the use of napalm and Agent Orange to destroy in its entirety everyone and everything touched by chemicals. And like every GI, they regretted that they had left family and friends, jobs, and schools, to fight an enemy that was elusive and in fact often invisible.

So many of the men I knew returned home full of anger and regrets. Some had even been involved in attacks on military superiors in response to orders they would not obey. These were good men. Proud men who had grown up much like me, with every intention of serving their country admirably and honorably and unhesitatingly. When they returned and we sat to talk about their time in Nam, here is what they said. Don’t go. It is a wrong place where we are doing wrong things. This is  ot the war our fathers fought. This is not a just war. They told me to resist. They told me to forget everything I thought about war from John Wayne movies.

I began to question the notion that when I reached 18 I would serve in the military, with vim and vigor. I read more news accounts. I spoke to more vets. I watched the Vietnam Vets Against the War march in downtown Chicago.

Many of my generation will never trust the military/industrial complex. We have tried in earnest to motivate the next generations to listen with caution to the beat of war drums. I cannot say with certainty when we should militarily or politically intervene in foreign countries. I can say that I think it should be quite sparingly and reluctantly.

And opposing the war in generally associated with protests and demonstrations. Some are peaceful, some not. Some are well organized, some not. Often times they turn dramatic. Flags and effigies are burned and profanities hurled along with an occasional bottle or rock.

I suggest that whatever dishonor and disrespect you interpret in these actions, many of us believe that not resisting unjust wars are dishonorable and disrespectful.

Phil Ochs, a folk singer sang this lyric  “It’s always the old to lead us to the war
It’s always the young to fall
Now look at all we’ve won with the saber and the gun
Tell me is it worth it all”

Read more: Phil Ochs – I Ain’t Marching Anymore Lyrics | MetroLyrics

He also sang this lyric

One-legged veterans will greet the dawn
And they’re whistling marches as they mow the lawn
And the gargoyles only sit and grieve
The gypsy fortune teller told me that we’d been deceived
You only are what you believe

I believe the war is over
It’s over, it’s over

Read more: Phil Ochs – The War Is Over Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Be slow to judge who seem unpatriotic. They may perceive themselves to be super patriots. They/We risk being beaten by cops, going to jail or prison, losing jobs and being despised by neighbors in order to follow their conscience. Even if they are wrong does not mean they are unpatriotic. I fought my war during Vietnam. When riot police surrounded us I was scared. I was afraid of being gassed or beat.I knew if I left quickly I could avoid the ugliness to follow. But I stayed the course and chanted anti-war slogans. Because I loved my country.

Just practising

So let us make a run at being amused and amusing. Is there anyone left naive enough to believe these politicians care a wit about us. Does someone believe these clowns care about The People? This has become about survival of the political beasts which will shrivel up and die if they do not suck our blood, cash and freedom dry.

The best thing that ever happened to the awareness of the United States was the military draft. It made middle America interested in politics and war. When and only when their babies were going to go off to die did they take a hard look at why, where, who. Only did the babies themselves care enough when they found out they were to be used as so much cannon fodder in VietNam, did they lift themselves out of their complacency and protest.

It is time to rise up angry. It is time to expand our awareness. Hallucinogens accelerated the stimulation of youths who in turn brought down Nixon, ended the war and launched the age of enlightenment. The deal fell apart when the youth sold out for comfort and prosperity. We didn’t have to. Comfort comes with a price. A price beyond the dollars. It cost souls. We should never have let the war in Iraq happen. We should have not letall these young men go off to die and be maimed by IEDs. We should be protesting their treatment for the psychological and physical maladies they returned with.

Phil Ochs sang ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqpy5E72nd0 )

Silent soldiers on a silver screen
Framed in fantasies and dragged in dream
Unpaid actors of the mystery
The mad director knows that freedom will not make you free
And what’s this got to do with me

I declare the war is over
It’s over, it’s over

Drums are drizzling on a grain of sand

Fading rhythms of a fading land
Prove your courage in the proud parade
Trust your leaders where mistakes are almost never made
And they’re afraid that I’m afraid

I’m afraid the war is over
It’s over, it’s over

Angry artists painting angry signs
Use their vision just to blind the blind
Poisoned players of a grizzly game
One is guilty and the other gets the point to blame
Pardon me if I refrain

I declare the war is over
It’s over, it’s over

So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die

I declare the war is over
It’s over, it’s over

One-legged veterans will greet the dawn
And they’re whistling marches as they mow the lawn
And the gargoyles only sit and grieve
The gypsy fortune teller told me that we’d been deceived
You only are what you believe

I believe the war is over
It’s over, it’s over