Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Soldier Killed in Afghanistan


    Illegal and ruinous US invasions and interventions will never end so long as our leaders, our mainstream media, and the public continue to misrepresent “the troops”—their training, their “sacrifice,” and the imperial purpose for which they were killed.   An egregious example of this war-perpetuating falsification occurred in an editorial of the Northwest Arkansas Times, January 13, 2011, “In Memory: Ethan C. Hardin” of Fayetteville.   Spc. Hardin, age 25, was killed in Afghanistan by “an improvised explosive device and small-arms fire.”
     Quickly the writer pronounces his first false claim.   The editorial opens with information about the close relationship between Hardin and his minister, and expresses the paper’s “condolences,” and “to acknowledge that the sacrifice was for all of us.”   For whom was the sacrifice?  Did Hardin go to Afghanistan to be a sacrifice for the people of the United States?  I doubt it.   Or did our leaders send him to an illegal, catastrophic invasion and occupation against a people who had never threatened our nation, where he was killed?   That is the truth.  Not for me was he sacrificed.   Not for me was he offered up to the nation as to a deity; not for me was he destroyed in a senseless war.  Nor was his victimization “for all of us.”   You know what we think and feel?  This is only the beginning of the editorialist’s astounding statements.
      What kind of man was Spc. Hardin?   Apparently before he entered the Army, the editorialist writes, he was “a very pleasant, liable, gentle personality.   He was always helpful.  Always had a ready smile and a laugh.”   And lunched with his minister, who knew him since he was “a baby.”    But that was before the Army.  What happened when he left home and community and joined the Army?   The editorialist says nothing about basic training    He was doubtfully the same gentle man after basic training for combat.   .  For basic training seeks to eradicate the loving natures parents and ministers have inculcated in them, because their new function in life is to kill.    During WWII not all of our troops fired their weapons.   Basic training since then has intensified eagerness or at least willingness to shoot and shoot to kill.   The recruiters had not told him the purpose and details of basic training.  And had he not been killed himself, had he returned home alive, particularly had he experienced more than one tour in Afghanistan, he might well have suffered from PTSD, especially because he had been a gentle man and had been compelled in combat to commit actions, crimes, utterly opposed to his upbringing, to kill and wound civilians or to see it done, and keep silent (even the most hardened are susceptible to PTSD in these contions).   The recruiters had not told him about this either.
     But maybe he wasn’t so gentle after all, writes the shifting editorialist:  he came from a military family; “he had a typical warrior spirit.   His dad was a soldier.  His brother spent time in Iraq.”  And not only that, all “had a strong desire to keep their country safe.”   Safe?  Safe from Afghanistan?  Extraordinarily poor, tribal Afghanistan?   Safe from bin Ladin, we might understand, but what did the people of Afghanistan have to do with 9-11?   The editorialist is silent on this question.
        The editorialist has argued:   Hardin was gentle at home, but became a fighting soldier because he was a warrior at heart (and unmentioned, because basic training performed successfully its task of deformation).    And yet, the editorialist’s astonishing argument has not reached its climax.   His former pastor and friend, Dr. Bryan Disney, is quoted as saying:  “’He was very high on the totem pole in his dedication to Christ.’”   This inexplicable, baffling statement, following the preceding argument, would embarrass an ordinary person--unless Dr. Disney makes a distinction between “Christ” and “Jesus,” for the Jesus of the Beatitudes and other passages in the Christian text of the Bible is the farthest one might be from a combat soldier in Afghanistan.   But Dr. Disney and the writer seem to mean Jesus as the Christ.
     In an attempt to resolve the many contradictions of his case so far, the editorialist now discusses purposefully Hardin’s military unit, the 10th Mountain Division, in which Senator Bob Dole served during WWII, and in which “at least one soldier [was] awarded the Medal of Honor” in 2006.    The heroism of gentle, Christ-loving Hardin is exalted by his association with other combat heroes.
      How can the editorialist end such a confusing memorialization?  He meant well.  He wanted to praise the man both as a person we would like to have in our community, have as our neighbor, and as a person who would go off to a war (why did he go is never explained) to kill his  leaders’ enemies.   But instead of explaining how the two could exist in the same person consecutively because of two powerful indoctrinations—one by his parents and community and the other by the Army--he leaves us stunned by the incomprehensibility of his account.
      Pfc. Hardin was taught gentleness—not to kill--at home and cruelty and killing by the Army, and for an illegal and unjust war, and because the editorialist doesn’t see consequences, all he can do is cover it up with his feeble cant and unfeeling formulas of “sacrifice” and “Christ.”   Nowhere is there pity for Hardin and his loving family, nor for the loving Afghan families, but only the empty, automatic, ritualistic “condolences.”

Editorial.   “In Memory: Ethan C. Hardin.”  Northwest Arkansas Times (Jan. 13, 2011).
Bob Caudle.  Fayetteville Soldier Killed in Afghanistan.”  NAT (Jan. 10, 2011).

Related Blog Entries:
See the two on Killing especially, and all others related to militarism, empire, and wars.  

----Gordon, Joy.  Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions.  Harvard UP, 2010.   Rev. Fellowship (Fall 2010).   Killing at least 500,000 civilians during over a decade of invasion, sanctions, and bombings followed by an illegal and unjust invasion and occupation for seven more years, purportedly to keep the US safe,  is largely unknown in the US.     Yet it is surely genocide.  
--Kriner, Douglas and Francis Shen.  The Casualty Gap: The Causes and Consequences of American Wartime Inequalities.  Oxford, 2010.   Rev. Andrew Bacevich, “Unequal Sacrifice,” The Nation (9-20-10, a significant essay on US wars).   By comparing official casualty records in four US wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq) with Census data, the authors conclude that “when America goes to war, it is the poorer and less educated in society who are more likely to die in combat,” except during WWII.

Florida Governor Signs PTSD Awareness Week Proclamation
Veteran Community Leaders Celebrate Long-Awaited PTSD Awareness

Tue Dec 14, 2010, 4:35 am ET
Yahoo! News Network

Brevard County, FL (Vocus/PRWEB) December 13, 2010

Florida's Governor, Charlie Crist, signed a proclamation Friday, Dec 10th, bringing PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) awareness into the Florida spotlight, and in so doing, made the plight and dream of a 20 year homeless veteran advocate and local community hero come true.
George Taylor, President of the National Veterans Homeless Support(NVHS), has been working towards legislation and awareness such as this with political and community leaders since 1991. Known as a tireless homeless veteran advocate, leader and local hero to homeless veterans, Taylor brings organizations together for the support and awareness of those he serves.
Monday, Dec 13th, 2010 marks the beginning of the first official PTSD awareness week in Florida and the beginning of what Taylor and other community leaders hope will be a turning point for the veterans suffering from the chronic condition of PTSD.
The signed proclamation makes Florida one of the first states in the country to have a week officially dedicated to the community awareness of PTSD. This appears to be a movement gaining ground as it follows the news in June of this year when the U.S. Senate passed a resolution declaring June 27 National PTSD Awareness Day.
Taylor was honored for his years of advocacy on Saturday night by receiving news of the Governor's signature before it was publicly announced and receiving his own original document.
An emotional Taylor said, "This is what I've worked 20 years for. Our veterans and the community they live in deserve this and are best served by this awareness. I hope it leads to bigger things, and better healing. This is a victory for all of us who work together to make sure our veterans are understood and not forgotten. I thank all my friends and the community of vet support groups for working together to help make this happen. I also want to thank Miss Jackie Colon for helping make it a reality. This is a dream come true for our vets."
Approximately 7.7 million American adults, or about 3.5 percent of people 18 and older, in a given year, have PTSD. Up to 76% of homeless veterans are thought to suffer from some level of PTSD, which often manifests itself into alcohol, drug, and avoidance issues. Stigma is also said to play a role in servicemen and women not coming forward to discuss options and seek treatment.
"Because you can't see PTSD, as you can a physical battle scar, it can go undetected, but PTSD can be more devastating", said Taylor.
The U.S. has 6 states with veteran populations over 1 million. Florida's veteran population of 1.8 million is second only to California, with 2.3 million. Texas, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio also make the top 6. Pennsylvania's House of Representatives approved a resolution for a PTSD awareness week in November of this year, and like Florida, many states will likely follow suit.
News of the new, state-wide and week long observation is sweet success to those who have championed the cause for many years, continuously working with legislators, as the voice for those suffering PTSD to bring awareness to the cause.
A humble congratulatory ceremony was held for Taylor, at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 4228, in Titusville, Sunday afternoon, where representatives from local veteran support groups came together to celebrate the victory.
"Working together is what it's all about", said Dorothy Walsh, NVHS VP and Sargent at Arms for the USA River Rats. Among the leaders present at the ceremony were Carl Schneider, American Legion Eastern Area Commander, Bill Hoppner, American Legion Dept. of FL Disaster Preparedness Chairman, Arthur `Gunner' Dudley, the American Legion Dept.of FL Homeless Veterans Chairman, Al Diaz, President of USA River Rats, and 10 other proud and excited officers of the USA River Rats.
Another key player in the awareness and treatment of PTSD in Florida is Dr Scott Fairchild of Welcome Home Vets. Fairchild, a Psychologist making strides in the treatment of PTSD in Florida, and Welcome Home Vets are teaming up with Taylor of the National Veterans Homeless Support, to offer direct clinical psychological services to the homeless veterans brought in by the Search and Rescue teams of NVHS who are suffering PTSD.
Dr. Fairchild said, "It is a monumental accomplishment and the culmination of over 20 years of work on behalf of so many, to honor the many Floridians who have experienced psychological trauma and suffered the invisible wounds of war. There are new tools and treatments available, which dramatically impact the healing process and can retrain the brain to healthy patterns, some without medication, which we at Welcome Home Vets have seen reduce PTSD symptoms by 63%. In addition to treatments though, it is critical to realize that community support must be thicker than a bumper sticker."
Based on the newly signed proclamation, it would appear the Florida legislators concur. As the community claims a victory for their honored and often misunderstood veterans, ideas and plans are already taking shape to make the best use of this yearly week of awareness.
Taylor is asking veteran support groups across the state and nation to come together, reach out and share ideas. Interested parties may contact Taylor and his organization, through the contact form on the NVHS web site.
"This week we spend in celebration," touts Taylor, "We are appreciative our veterans are being recognized and honored in our state. Soon we'll start planning for next year's PTSD awareness week in Florida. We hope others will join us."
Beth McKenzie
It's Cardinal
866-966-8569 82
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