“War, What is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing!”

(Title from the song “War” by Edwin Star, 1970)

Last evening I watched the last episode of the series “Vietname in HD,” ….on Amazon Prime videos.  I had been intending to watch this production for a while, but each time shied away, because by in large I knew already what I would see.  Or so I thought…..turns out I learned a lot, but was left continuing to shake my head at the horrible mistake Washington made in taking us into that quagmire.

I did not go to Vietnam, and I do thank the Creator Power every day for that.  I could have, but I think it was solely a matter of timing that kept me Stateside.  As I was off to pilot training in the USAF in 1969, the US had begun to pull back as Nixon’s plan was to withdraw most of our forces and hand the war over to the South Vietnamese forces entirely.  I quit pilot training (subject of a prior blog post – March 15, 2019) mid-way through the program and at the time fully expected orders for Vietnam, but as I said, with the decision to turn down our involvement, instead I was assigned to a nuclear missile base in North Dakota (a few guys I knew there who had been to Vietnam joked they would go back to get away from Minot…..but I knew they were kidding).

So I have always carried both a “thank God I didn’t have to go” and a sense of some guilt in having not gone.  I did not raise my hand then to say “I want to go to Vietnam,” and truthfully that was the last thing I desired at the time.  I was in the military voluntarily, home safe, while boys younger than I were being shot and blown to pieces, drafted and cast into the pit of gloom and doom.

While no war should be compared to another, Vietnam was HELL.  Each war is totally unique except that human beings suffer in all wars, and it’s usually the younger warriors who bear the brunt, except for civilians who suffer as much or more than combatants……”collateral damage” in “military speak.”  In Vietnam our “boys” endured month after month what in other wars might occur over days or a few weeks.  Most were draftees, and were ripped from their lives back home and sent to pass through Hell for a year or more.  The memorials around the Country attest to the price these men and women paid.

https://www.militaryfactory.com/vietnam/casualties.asp

Since the war, so many have continued to suffer in so many ways, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially……and like all our veterans of war, taking their own lives at a rate much higher than the norm.  So when you see an older man on the street or corner, with a Vietnam Vet cap or other such identification, believe me, he deserves whatever you can give him……to hell with ads that say don’t help street people!  Odds are this man saw things at the age of 19-22 almost daily that would make you vomit on the sidewalk if you witnessed it.

I was one leaders of the anti-war movement in North Texas in the early 2000’s…..and I am much more “proud” of that than my service time.  We used to sing the song “War” in our protest marches, to a lot of applause.

If you are not familiar with the various veterans organizations, here are a few links (of various “persuasions”):

http://vetsdayindallas.org/linksmvets.htm

https://www.ivaw.org/

https://www.veteransforpeace.org/

http://www.vvaw.org/

Today the only reason I could recommend the military to a young person is if they had very limited “other” choices in life.  Apparently very few young Americans are inclined to join, which has many consequences on various levels, mostly bad:

https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2017/10/12/top-recruiter-just-136000-out-of-33-million-young-americans-would-join-the-army/

Since Vietnam the US has continued to insert our might into various parts of the world, all in the name of “democracy,” when matter of factly, it is usually only about control of resources or other economic factors that mostly maintain the wealth of the  1% of this Country.  Whether it was our little wars in Central America that contributed to the mass influx of those fleeing their homes now, trying to escape the horrors of life there, or the major f_** up of Iraq, resulting in ISIL, and all the other mess of that region, Americans at large need to wake up to Dwight Eisenhower’s caveat about the military-industrial complex…….when weapons are a major industry, they have to be sold and used.   See, “Lord of War,” the movie.

MORE BLOOD ON OUR HANDS?

So now just a few days after the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, BMT (Bottomless Moral Turpitude…..aka that which occupies the Oval Office) is talking about “helping” the Saudis in responding to an attack on their refineries by “Iran?”.

The entire attack  on the WTC was financed by Saudi money, although it has never been revealed who or how.  Most of the terrorists who killed so many Americans on that day of infamy were Saudis.  Of course America did nothing toward Saudi for that attack, even quickly transporting members of the Ben Laden family out of the USA back home.  Today Saudi is led by one of the most murderous dictators in the world, responsible for the slaughter of an American resident Saudi, about which BMT has afforded all the cover needed to maintain our weapons sales to this tyrant.  As Dwight D. Eisenhower informed America, our policy would be led by the military-industrial complex, as it has for decades and continues right today.  We are the biggest arms merchant, grim reaper extraordinaire in the history of the world.

I pray our Congress this time stands up to the Oval Office, as it totally failed to do after 911.  If we get involved in helping the Saudi Coalition with retaliation against Iran, it will be a war that likely will bring this country to our own demise, given the other issues we cannot afford to ignore.  The war in Iraq and Afghanistan together will pale in comparison with a war with Iran.

Our weapons sold and given to the Saudis has facilitated for many months the air attacks by the Saudis on the civilians of Yemen, and has created what today is the largest humanitarian crisis on the globe.  Those Americans, here in Dallas Fort Worth and around the country, who work in the military weapons industry should really self assess what their values are, and consider the consequences of their work.  But of course we will get the same response, “people kill people, not guns or weapons.”  Sad.

http://www.peaceworldwide.org/2017/06/what-should-united-states-role-be-in.html

 

A TEXAS GIANT Indeed.

I realize few people will read this post, and perhaps fewer even care, but I am compelled to salute this man, a Texan, a gentleman, a true liberal, and a consummate warrior for Peace. RAMSEY CLARK, today 91 and living a peaceful life in New York, is one fellow Texan that I have the greatest admiration for.

Anyone who considers themselves a Democrat in the sense of meaning in today’s climate, must know the record of liberal activism.   Mr. Clark, one-time Attorney General Clark, was and is one of the best examples of valor in confronting the face of American majority public opinion, challenging and helping correct the course of this Nation when it strayed, as it did a number of times during his career.

Since his record is well-documented, even in a documentary film, “Citizen Clark……A Life of Principle,” I won’t write anymore today, but will leave a few links.

Mr. Clark hails from Dallas, mainly my home for many years, and I am very proud, given the negative record the City has on so many points, that we who believe in truth, peace and reconciliation, who were reviled, cursed and spit upon when we protested Bush’s attack on Iraq, can say, “He’s one of us.”

Ramsey Clark at 90: America’s Most Liberal Attorney General and Veteran West Villager (Part 1)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramsey_Clark

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3533612/

The Power of Words: Hateful words.

The racist, vile words that pour from BMT’s (Bottomless Moral Turpitude) mouth are only rivaled, contemporarily, by the likes of the Philippine dictator, Duterte, who brags about the attacks, killings and general oppression he has personally participated in or instigated.  There are of course, other examples, when words piped over the air waves in Rwanda resulted in the largest genocide in recent times.

It is worth viewing this interview (Warning:  contains scenes of extreme violence and corpses), to see just how far unchecked hateful words can go toward irrevocable civil violence:

Then, of course, looking back a half century the world saw this:

I am not insinuating that the situation in the United States could reach this level of hate and violence, but only wish to show the potential of hateful, racist words.

Slogans spoken by BMT, such as the recent “go back to where you came from” (perhaps not an exact quote), and picked up at his rally this week where his admirers converted it into a chant, “Send her back,” evoke in the collective conscience of African Americans and other people of color, and all Americans who stand for the true meaning of the Lady in the harbor of NYC, horrible memories of the atrocities committed by white terrorists on black populations a hundred or so years ago, such as Greenwood (there were over 200 “race riots” – a term used by white media since “white domestic terrorism” had not been coined yet, and frankly has not to this day been put into circulation.  It brings back memories of countless lynchings of black people (and whites who stood in the way), as memorialized at the Montgomery museum:

https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/

We cannot afford to allow BMT to continue unchecked in his hate speech.  In the last two and a half years incidents of domestic terrorism and attacks on Jews, Blacks, and LGBTQ Americans have risen dramatically….and now with his campaign of hate in full swing, things will likely get worse.  Even a “low level” of civil terrorism must not be allowed to happen.

Unfortunately, I do not see any signs that things will get better in the next few years, even if he is not re-elected:  he has opened the door here at home and across the Pond to neo-nazis, and other nationalists and “alt-right” scared whitey’s.  Likely the coming decades will continue to be riddled with events that attempt to undermine our humanity.  I pray that we do not see any more Rwanda’s or Kosovo’s.

We who understand the nature of the “moral arc,” however, cannot stand by and be casual observers.  It is up to us to dress in the armor of rational logic and depth of good spirit to call out and combat such ignorant and evil haters.  Eventually things will change for the better, but future generations must always be vigilant.

The bright side of human nature is that we have an innate capacity for forgiveness, as seen in the above video about Rwanda, as seen in the reconciliation hearings of South Africa, and the fact that America rebuilt Germany and Japan after the wars they started.  Forgiveness and loves conquers all.

Redtails in the morning, Nazis take warning.

Even though much publicity and media have rightly recognized the valor and accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen, I continue to be in awe of these young black aviators of WW2 who lit up the skies with the flashes of their machine guns and exploding Luftwaffe aircraft, and raked German defense lines on the ground as the Allies drove the Germans northward through Italy to final surrender.

Last evening I watched a film titled “Hart’s War,” which was both unsettling, yet revealing.  I won’t give any spoilers, except to say the setting is a German POW camp, filled with American soldiers, all white –  until two captured Tuskegee aviators are brought in.  The film revealed just how deep the gulf was between whites, especially from the south, and blacks in the military.  The military was just a part of the larger racist society of that time (not to say America is still not racist in so many ways).

I had the pleasure of shaking the hand of one of the last Tuskegee airmen just a few years ago, and tried to tell him in a few seconds that my father was a bomber pilot and that he recalled being escorted by the Tuskegee airmen fighters.  I don’t think the old gentleman really caught what I was trying to say, and other people were waiting to shake his hand, so I couldn’t say also, “Thank you for keeping my father safer.”

The P-51 Mustangs in the caption photo are planes preserved from the WW2 era, painted with red tails that was the “calling card” of the Tuskegee, 332nd Fighter Group, based in the southeastern coastal area of Italy.  From there theses brave fighter jocks flew many missions covering bombers flying out of the “USS Corsica” (the island of Corsica), and later from bases in Italy, as the 12th Air Force plastered the Nazis, cutting supply lines, hitting fuel dumps, taking out major gun emplacement, knocking out flak artillery, and mowing down German troops with frags.

My father flew 70 missions as a B-25 pilot, doing all of the above, and many of his Wing went down, a number captured, a number murdered by Germans shooting them as they dropped in their parachutes after their plane was hit by flak, and some murdered by the Nazi SS.  The Redtails I know were his cover on a number of missions, and were it not for that, I may not myself be here writing this, for he might have also made the ultimate sacrifice.

Now, it must be understood, that these valiant fighter jocks were doing their duty, in spite of the fact that back home in April, 1945, others of the Tuskegee group who were still training for air combat, could not enter and partake at an officers club in the Midwest.  Over 100 of these black officers attempted to enter the club and were ultimately arrested.  Due to outside protest, the Army dropped charges against most, but some were not cleared until the 1990’s!

But, in spite of all this, you can bet that not one Redtail pilot hesitated to push his gun button when he saw an ME-109 sliding in to target one of our bombers full of white men of the same age, many of whom would not even eat at the same table with him.

Think about that.

Heaven Can Wait

Tomorrow is the 75th Anniversary of D Day.  I will stand down on my blogging tomorrow, in solemn remembrance of the sacrifice so many made that day.

On that day 75 years ago, our father was completing his formation flying training in the B-25J, twin-engine medium bomber, in Greenville, South Carolina.  Earlier that year he had married the sweet girl who would become mother of his two kids, myself and my sister. Later in August of that year they returned briefly to Texas so he could present his bride to parents and family, a happy occasion, but with the no doubt the unspoken fear parents naturally would have, especially given the news of the raging war.

In mid-September our father winged across the southern route of the Atlantic crossing, via Ascension island, landing first at Monrovia, then up to Marrakech, then to Tunisia, and thence to his final base, the strategic island of Corsica that had been recently retaken from the Italians..

For the next seven months our father flew 70 missions attacking bridges, armament emplacements, power stations, and yes, German troops, as the Allies took the fight to the retreating Germans dug in along battle lines in northern Italy.  Names like Brenner Pass and Po Valley were on the daily agenda.  Enduring sub-freezing conditions at night in their tents as they tried to get some sleep before arising again at 5 a.m. for the mission briefing, then flying missions to targets typically 300 miles distant and holding tight formation through AAA (flak) explosions all around, day after day, takes a toll on spirit, but his 445th Squadron of the 321st Group, were undaunted in their tasks.

Our father returned unscathed from the war, although I realized years ago that he had carried silently what we now call PTSD, but he handled it well, yet it was his own internal battle.  Back then there was not even recognition or acknowledgment of this condition, much less a term for it.

Daddy was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters for his heroism.  To me he was always my hero, but there were thousands and thousands of heroes who saved Democracy in those years – especially on D Day.

Let us not take what we enjoy lightly, and let us not allow it to be squandered by those who have no idea what patriotism truly is.

And, yes, the photo of the B-25J, Heaven Can Wait, was the very one our father flew his last ten missions.

 

Death by blogging…

For my avid readers (all three of you?), no I am not hinting of anything related to my mortality.  But, “One never knows, do one?” (Fats Waller).

After the attack on the WTC (9-11), my ability to write creatively just suddenly stopped.  I found myself, voluntarily, caught up in the anti-war movement, and creative writing just seemed to take a distant place in my ranking of importance.  For years I felt this way, and in spite of attempts over those years to break out of that quagmire, writing attempts that went nowhere, dampened by the continuing sickening news of death, mutilation, PTSD, civilian casualties and displacement, war, mayhem and terrorism (let’s remember one man’s terrorism is another man’s overt strike, e.g., a drone with Hellfire missiles on a wedding)…..well, I just could not bring myself to begin to write about something that was not serious, and yet I was just sick of “serious.”  Do you feel me?

Then, not too long ago I began to feel like I must force myself to sit down once again, and write.  Life is short – I finally had to admit to myself.  So, I started this blog, and just in the last six months I have self-published a few small non-fiction books (available on Amazon).  But once again I am finding it so hard to push away the thoughts and images of the slings and arrows of our political, and generally societal at large, landscape.  There seems to be no news outlet that is not engaged in debating the daily shifts in this terrain…because it is so important….but god don’t we all need some fresh air?

I was born about four score years after the American Civil War, and until 2016 I could never have dreamed the foundation of what it means to be “America” would begin to fracture again. I thought for the longest we might be finally escaping our past divisions and angst, coming together to address common threats like global warming or exploring space, feeding the starving and “all that.”  How wrong I was.  Now we are literally in a “civil” civil war once again…there is no way to deny that, and anyone who scoffs at that I say, “you better look deeper.”  (Note that when I say “civil,” I am not over looking the bloody violence committed by domestic terrorists.)

Our country is being consumed by the “perfect storm.”  A consummate ego-maniac was elected due to the amplification of factors that individually would not have resulted in such as travesty:  egotism of the Democratic party machine, an outdated electoral college system built on gerrymandered districting, neglect of our heartland and our once burgeoning industrial cities and the thousands of small towns and rural folk, the failure of our education system to teach citizens how to critically analyze information, xenophobia inflamed by poverty of large swaths of America, outright racism, the selfishness of the major social media corps, the degenerate state of politicians within in D.C., and the failure of government to protect against cyber attacks by malevolent actors (e.g., Trump’s best buddy, Vladimir Putin).  Had any one of these factors been neutralized, we would not be in a civil war today.

Now we are faced with a highly divided nation, so divided it has wrecked marriages and families, just like the bloody Civil War did, and I fear it could easily get much worse.  We have a man occupying the presidency who knows no limits, recognizes no restraints of law or norm, will do absolutely anything to remain in power and have All the power, who has infected Washington with a fast growing carcinoma.  It is obvious he will use every trick in the book, supported by those who are too blinded by hate, or too greedy to care about the principles of our very nation.  He will not be impeached, and even if he loses the 2020 election (which certainly is not a foregone conclusion) he will not vacate the White House peacefully, for he knows prison and the collapse of his finances await him.  Inauguration day, January 20, 2021 may turn into another day of infamy for this country.

Notwithstanding all this bullshit, I will continue to blog – till death do us part – and give free reign to my mind, allowing it to roam as freely as I can given day to day matters, and moreover, abide in the firm belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” (Theodore Parker).

Concluding, I know this nation will get through this.  We have met and beat all other fiends, and we will beat this, even though a large part of the fiend’s protoplasm is within our collective self.