Today in My History

2000:  Seal of the Confessional
2001:  Faux Food
Sometimes You Win
Busman's Holiday
Childhood Meme
2006: Expletive (just barely) Deleted

The Martian Child (feature story)
Whistle Down the Wind

Books Read in 2007
Updated: 11/06
"Copper Beech"



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Send the Marines
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Michele's Memorial


14 November 2007

(It had been my intent to post this on Veterans Day, but since I had Michele's memorial to report on, this is my reflection about the holiday.)


a photo by my Flickr friend James

It's Veterans Day and people will be headed out to cemeteries to honor the brave soldiers who gave their lives for their country.  Flags will fly over graves of military personnel all across the land.  There will be ceremonies where politicians will take the opportunity to give lip service to supporting the troops, living and dead, in wise and wonderful speeches where they hope to make such an impression that your vote will swing in their direction, or their popularity may take a little rise in the polls.

Isn't it time to state the real truth:  this country doesn't give a rip about the soldiers.  Never did.  Not "officially," anyway.  They are expendable pieces of not very durable equipment that the government sends off to far places to be irrevocably damaged, or killed in the name of some ideal that we can no longer comprehend.

Or, in the lyrics of an old Lawsuit song:

War is definitely trouble for me
It starts when two people disagree
Then they go out and have other people kill
other people for them

We have all been incensed as the reports come back from Iraq about the fact that our young men and women were sent into "harm's way" (that euphemism that I hate...let's just say "danger," not soften it by using "harm's way") with no adequate protective gear, with vehicles that were better equipped for a Sunday trip to the supermarket than for battle.  Mothers held bake sales to buy their children body armor.  Injured soldiers get sent to rat infested recovery houses.  Those who are do not have visible injuries may end up on the street, with no military support to ease them back to life, job, or family after the hell they have been through. 

We get indignant.  How could the Bush administration allow that to happen.

Well, I have been recording Ken Burns' "The War" onto DVD because it's taking up half my storage space on my DVR and we haven't had time to watch it.  To my surprise I hear the veterans of World War II talk about how they had bad equipment, how they had to kill German soldiers because they had warm clothing and our fighting men did not.

I am the very last person to say anything positive about the Bush administration, but is it any worse than previous administrations, whether Republican or Democratic, in sending troops into battle not properly prepared, or properly supported?

Lack of support for fighting forces is the very lifeblood of our country.  We can read everywhere about how Washington's troops were ill-prepared and ill-equipped at Valley Forge, how they had no food to eat and were dying of starvation.

From "What Happened at Valley Forge"  ...

General Washington conceded, "If the army does not get help soon, in all likelihood it will disband."

The question must be asked, "Why didn't they disband?"

We know what happened here. Early into the six-month encampment, there was hunger, disease, and despair. Raw weather stung and numbed the soldiers. Empty stomachs were common. Cries of "beef" echoed throughout the camp. The future promised only more desperation and starvation.

Some couldn't take the cold, hunger, and uncertainty any longer. There were dozens of desertions. Disease debilitated. Death descended in droves.

It just seems that the entire history of this country is that we send young men (and now women) into battle to put their lives at risk and the government does not adequately prepare them, give them the proper equipment, or help them ease back into normal life after they are dismissed.  (We can't leave Iraq because in four years we have been unable to train Iraqi soldiers, yet we send our own fighting people into combat with only a few weeks of preparation!  We dismiss people who speak the language because their sexual orientation is apparently more important than the ability to converse with the people we are supposed to be training!)

Yet on Veteran's Day politicians stand and give wonderful testimony to the brave men and women who put themselves in harm's way in the defense of this country.

Seems to me the only time this country gives any honest acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by the troops is after they are buried, when it doesn't cost too much to be effusive.


Steve's recording session with Ned et al.


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