Thoughts on Veterans Day By John Cory, Reader Supported News
11 November 10
A national Hallmark Card for war inked with survivor's guilt.
We have numbered wars like SuperBowls (WWI and WWII), marked them by time (the Hundred Years' War and the Thirty Years' War), masked them with a gentle oxymoron (the Civil War) and fogged their battles in terms of weather (Rolling Thunder and Desert Storm). War is a lesson in geography like the Spanish-American War, the Mexican-American War and the Vietnam War or, as the Vietnamese call it, the American War. Modern war is waged on an "ism" like Communism or Terrorism.
We never run out of names, terms or reasons for war. And there is always an anniversary for war or a battle or its start, a day of flowers and marketing to ensure romantic remembrance of death and destruction.
That is war after all - a marriage of violence and glory "until death do us part."
War is a true never-ending story. And when the shooting stops, we file the body parts and memory fragments on a bookshelf for later reference when we write about war, searching for Kevlar words to protect the troops as we recon the thesaurus of emotions and memories for the building blocks that frame a new rationalization for more war.
And everyone wants a good war story to lead the six o'clock news or top the bestseller charts. It has to be heroic and noble, a tale of sacrifice for the greater good or better yet, a battle of reluctance turned into righteous annihilation of the enemy. It has to be a story about us versus the faceless and godless enemy that leads to triumph and victory, albeit a world-weary victory, thrust upon us. We didn't want to destroy the village but we had to destroy the village in order to save the village. Like that ominous voice of movie previews, we utter the words: In a world of kill or be killed, there can be no doubt.
Of course we don't tell real war stories. We write recruiting posters.
No one writes the stories of wives who organize and schedule jobs and school and extra-curricular activities so that by 8 pm everyone can gather around the warm glow of the computer and Skype with Dad and touch each other through the LCD screen of love and loneliness.
No one writes the stories of fathers who watch their daughters battle PTSD and TBI and the military and the VA for treatment and disability compensation year after year, long after they have returned from war. No one sees the father's pain and anger when someone tells him that his daughter wasn't a "real combat" troop so her injuries don't qualify for a Purple Heart, or that the VA and the government can't just hand out monthly checks to just anyone. The sting of the bullet words that say: "That's the trouble with these Vets, they want something for nothing."
No one writes of the mother who spends day after day fighting for reimbursement of gas money driving her amputee son or daughter to and from appointments for physical and mental therapy. It's a roundtrip of 143 miles three times a month, if you're lucky and got to the top of the waiting lists.
And no one writes of the children who watch Mom and Dad come and go while they live with Grandma or Aunt Jesse, and when Mom and Dad finally come home to stay but they are different. Mom won't let them walk down the street without her being on point to make sure nothing bad happens because the world is a bad place. And Dad can't stop hugging them and crying for a long time and then he can't sleep and then he doesn't talk anymore. He just sits in the rocking chair and watches the rain. He is gone again.
Bldg. 805 in Fort Bliss was supposed to be for treating soldiers with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), but is instead a structure of indifference and lack of funding. In Fort Carson there is what is known as "the warehouse of despair" where soldiers are medicated and left to wander in their own lost world.
We have perfected the perverted normalcy of war and made it a family affair.
In the recent election cycle only 3 percent of voters listed war as a topic of concern when voting for a candidate. Out of sight - out of mind.
A few more wars and we will earn another three-day weekend with half-off sales and discounted holiday airfares and bouquets for our loved ones. And war, like Hallmark, comforts us with the knowledge that we have made a good purchase because as the slogan says: When you care enough to send the very best.
And we care about war, right?
And we send the very best, right?
What more can we do?
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
+8 # Elizabeth Barger 2010-11-11 21:20
John Corey is a poet of sorrow and pain lived with and somehow survived. He understands the horror of our acceptance of such great evil that we will allow our children to die on the "fiery, iron altar of war" to bring power and wealth to a very greedy few. Bless you John, we can only share a very small part of your sorrow, and we do what we can to stop the insanity.
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