Archive for the 'War' Category

Cindy Sheehan is Lydia Puckett

Pro Patria Mori

Pro Patria Mori

Cindy Sheehan is one of those controversial, polarizing, and annoying public figures that you are either “for ’em or again’ ’em.” 

I certainly fall into the latter category.  I could forgive her many wacky misstatements, using her son’s death in order to become a media darling, and her false claims to retire from public life and then running for congress after just 1 month of missing the media spotlight. 

But the one act I consider unforgivable is the act of claiming to speak for the dead, war dead in particular.  I just think these dead have already paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve to be left in peace and no longer used as pawns in someone else’s ideological battles.   

In Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology, Lydia Puckett does this for Knowlt Hoheimer.  She falsely claims a spot for herself, no matter how far removed, in history.  When in fact she is nothing, she made no sacrifice, and certainly has absolutely no right to speak for the war dead:

Lydia Puckett

KNOWLT HOHEIMER ran away to the war
The day before Curl Trenary
Swore out a warrant through Justice Arnett
For stealing hogs.
But that’s not the reason he turned a soldier.
He caught me running with Lucius Atherton.
We quarreled and I told him never again
To cross my path.
Then he stole the hogs and went to the war-
Back of every soldier is a woman.

Given the chance to speak for himself, Knowlt Hoheimer makes one of the most powerful statements in all of literature about war:

Knowlt Hoheimer

I WAS the first fruits of the battle of Missionary Ridge.
When I felt the bullet enter my heart
I wished I had staid at home and gone to jail
For stealing the hogs of Curl Trenary,
Instead of running away and joining the army.
Rather a thousand times the country jail
Than to lie under this marble figure with wings,
And this granite pedestal
Bearing the words, “Pro Patria.”
What do they mean, anyway?

So leave Knowlt Hoheimer and Casey Sheehan alone.  Let their courageous acts and supreme sacrifices speak for themselves – and for goodness sakes, Lydia Puckett and Cindy Sheehan, please shut up!

Lions and Tigers and Nukes – Oh My!

Today’s headline about nuclear warheads being mistakenly carried aboard a B-52 reminded me yet again that journalists need to take a few history lessons.  The period in history I am referring to?  Apparently a little-known period sometimes referred to as the Cold War.  You see kids we used to sail and fly nuclear bombs all over the world every day. 

Listen up you whippersnappers!  In a program call Airborne Alert, approximately a dozen nuclear-armed bombers were in the air at any given moment.  You may have even seen a film about it – Dr. Strangelove (you gotta know how to relate to these kids!).  The airborne program lasted for a smallish time period of approximately 20 years, but nuclear-armed subs still sail the seas – each sub with enough firepower to destroy a country (200 warheads each). 

Heck, one of these bombers full of nukes, Buzz One Four, tragically came to its final rest a few miles away from my home town in 1964 – apparently where it, minus its nukes, still rests (entire very detailed story here).  In another notable incident, a sub went down in the Atlantic and neither it nor its nukes were ever recovered.  These “Broken Arrows” seemed to happen with at least some regularity (at least 26 that we know of). 

So journalistic kids, this is a little technique that I like to call: putting things into historical and world perspective.  Yes it was a mistake, but no, it wasn’t a bombing mission, just transport.  Isn’t the bigger worry all of the nuclear material that we don’t know where it is or how it is tracked – from such unstable regions of the world as Russia and Pakistan? 

Oh I see – along with not taking a (or sleeping through your) history class, you also skipped Geography – excellent – well thanks for doing your best to help us make informed choices anyway.  Now, you kids get outta my yard and go read some history books.

Middle East Peace in Our Time?

Oh, what the heck, we’ve tried nearly ever other tactic in the Middle East for peace, why not pump $20 Billion in arms into the place.  It will either lead to peace or help ignite World War III.

Notice the Newspeak: “US touts new Mideast Aid Package”  Aid Package?  I guess it’s an aid package if you happen to be a U.S. arms manufacturer.   It is just hard to believe that we have sunk so far in order to prop up our own crumbing economy.  Certainly noone wants a policy of appeasement reminiscent of pre-WWII Europe, but do we have a particularly good track record of sending in massive arm shipments to an unstable region (think Iran-Iraq war)?

But I guess my knowledge about the Middle East has not evolved much* since hearing the Treatise on Middle East Peace offered by Paul, the guy who used to paint our house, when I was 7:

“…Those people is crazy – they’ve been killing each other since long before you and I got here and they’ll be doing it long after we is dead…”**

And doing it all the more efficiently thanks to an extra $20 billion in U.S. “Aid.”

Notes:
* And I was a Middle Eastern “Cryto-Linguist” for 5 years in the USAF (though I still have no idea what that job title meant).
** Paul died in 1994 so he apears to have been correct so far. 

Johnny Got His Gun (and Roadside Bomb)

Sunday’s chilling AP Story is about one of the most severely injured soldiers from the Second Iraq War.  It describes Joseph Briseno Jr. who “was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range in a Baghdad marketplace.”  The article further describes Joseph as “three things you would not want to be: blind, head injury, and paralyzed from the neck down…”

The reality described in the article certainly was eerily similar to the 1939 novel and 1971 anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun (which I’ll admit I might have never seen if it had not been featured in the Metallica video One).

The theme and sentiment expressed in 1939, 1971, and today are the same: the artifacts of violence and war are almost unimaginably horrific.  Make sure what you are fighting for is worth it.  Or as hauntingly phrased in another war film Saving Private Ryan: “Earn this.”