Sunday, May 24, 2015

Deja Vu of War

Photograph in the Concord Monitor (5/22/15) of a patrol of U.S. troops during WWII
picking its way through the blasted ruins of St. Lo, France,
yet another casualty of war.
I found myself mesmerized by this photograph and, under its spell – in a process almost like automatic writing – scrawling out the first draft of the following essay on a pad of paper. I guess this is my gut response to what Memorial Day means to me.

Deja Vu of War
Such a poignant photograph in Friday’s Concord Monitor, showing St. Lo, a town in France, reduced to rubble after a battle during World War II. Tears flow down my cheeks for the writer of this piece whose uncle died in that battle.

More tears flow for all of us who have lost brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, and, beyond that, all our loved ones who have perished back through our family trees in the innumerable armed conflicts we have engaged in since our republic was founded.

Tears flow, too, for our enemy who we have killed, who also died fighting a cause, members of caring families just like ours. Tears flow especially for the countless millions of civilians who have died, innocent men, woman, and children.

Somehow, around the world, countries all take time to honor their dead but are blind to the bigger picture: the madness of it all.

In my war alone in Vietnam, 58,000 of my brothers and sisters were killed.  But that’s only the tip of my sorrow and moral guilt: the British Medical Journal estimates that, in total, during the Vietnam war, 3.8 million human beings were killed, most of them innocent men, women, and children.

So it is in war, as the Monitor photograph so graphically depicts. It can all be summed up by a U.S. officer’s explanation after allied forces bombed the city of Ben Tre, a cultural landmark in Vietnam, reducing it to rubble with heavy civilian casualties: 'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.'

Yes, that says it all. 

This year we will spend 640 billion on the military, not counting veteran benefits and off-budget blackholes. Because of our lopsided priorities, weapons of death have become our hammer – the only tool we have – and, as a consequence, all international problems become just more nails to be pounded.

Strange how denial works.

We arrest our fellow citizens for committing domestic abuse but glorify war, a much bigger crime. I cry for all of us: When will we ever learn.
Desolation Dreamscape
CC Jean Stimmell: Vietnam 1966

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