With Respect: Art James, R. “Doc” Roe, Steel Breeze, D. McClain, & J. Horrigan

I'm not sure why but for the past month or so,  I've been remembering something I wish I could forget.  Two conflicts have scarred our national psyche more deeply than any other events in the history of the United States.  The Civil War left virtually no degrees of separation because almost every family in the country lost someone to that conflagration.  To this day, nearly 150 years after the surrender at Appomattox, we are still engaged with the ghosts from that struggle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin

Incremental US Military involvement in Southeast Asia began during World War II and became an officially undeclared war on August 10, 1964, with the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution  (508-2) by Congress  in response to an alleged attack by patrol boats from North Vietnam upon the US Navy in international waters.  It wasn’t our first undeclared war based on complete distortion and outright fabrication, and it wouldn’t be our last; but that war and its protests eventually evolved into an expanded domestic culture war that left no degrees of separation and fifty years later continues to divide our country.

There are five old dudes who, each in their own way survived that time of tumult, a time that that I survived as well.  Each of us took away our own experience.  I am intimately familiar with mine yet I would never presume to understand the experience of these other men.  All that I can do it to try to imagine and empathize.  As I understand it,

Art James (http://oursalon.ning.com/profile/ArthurJames?xg_source=activity),

Dr. Rodney Roe (http://open.salon.com/blog/pottery_doc),

David McClain (http://open.salon.com/blog/torman)

…and Steel Breeze (http://open.salon.com/blog/steel_breeze) all volunteered to serve in the US military…

…while Jeremiah Horrigan (http://open.salon.com/blog/jeremiah_horrigan)

…and I resisted and fought our own battle in the only way we knew how.  I believe that David and Steel found themselves in combat while Art and “Doc” dealt directly with the bloody aftermath of that carnage.  I’m not sure who got shot at when, where or how but I know that I’ve never experienced anything like that kind of lethal chaos.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MskiSCUaJ4U

All of my brushes with mortality were random, nearly accidental events that I mostly brought upon myself.  Only one, a night in Houston, Texas when I came out on the bloody end of a five second, one-sided knife fight, could be described as combat.  Five seconds is all I know of mortal combat, which is more than most people but nothing compared to the experience of these veterans.  It took me over two years before I got out on the other side of my personal physical trauma, I can’t imagine what the aftermath of their struggles might have been.

While Art, “Doc,” David and Steel did their tours of duty in Vietnam, Jeremiah and I made our own hard choices which put us at odds with that vast silent majority of Americans who mobilized to elect Richard Nixon President of the United States in 1968 and again in 1972.  We all live with those choices and I’d be willing to bet that none of us would have done anything any differently.  I’d also be willing to bet that all of us hope that our children and grandchildren never have to face that kind of choice in the future.

With any luck in another twenty or thirty years the “silent majority” and our “culture wars” will have gone the way of the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi Party, “Tea Party” Republicans, the Know Nothing Movement and the “Whiskey Rebellion”… sad footnotes of prejudice and public outrage in American History born out of the fear of change.  Aside from some progressive legislation, the one good thing that came out of that insanity is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  As long as the over 58,000 names on the Wall remain legible, Americans of every generation will remain overwhelmed by that terrible beauty.  Would that our politicians had some shred of a soul so that they too could remember and learn. 

I’ve probably missed some men and women who served during the tumultuous years of that sorry outrage; but with all respect to one and all, the Wall:

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/nov-10-1982-vietnam-ve...

Except for attributed photos and text, all content is copyrighted © 2013 JKM (an apparently ineffectual boilerplate joke?)

Views: 293

Comment by Arthur James on December 29, 2013 at 2:51pm

`

sigh . . .

serious ache

serious pain

`

Earlier this morn . . .

I shared with my youngest Son

`

Grim Future Seen For Afghaisistan

`

Washington Post ` USA TODAY

`

`

Front Page

by` Ernesto Yondono

Karen De` Young

Greg Miller 

Civilian Warriors

The inside story

of Blackwater

`

and the unsung 

Heroes - War

On Terror

`

& ` Erick Prince

& Davis Coburn

`

book` Portfolio/

Penguin ` 404 pp.

$29.95 ` guess?

`

Civilian are 'lured'

t Afghanistan ` at

six-month` gig ` at

`

over $ 100.000 ` per

one/half year` Oy!

recall 1972 ` Vietnam?

B-52 `Bombs` 3.2 million

dead` fellow human beings.

`

No corrupt Blackwater contractor

had been indicted. Flash back `

in my VA ` VET CENTER office

adults wept ` as if a wailing baby.

I saw 1969-70` pre? Cambodia.

I still can hear ` B-52` bombs,

and peasants ` flute` instruments

all night in the darl` monsson

jungle... In ` Nm GI` GRUNTS

didn't use ` JASCK ASS ` Soups.

`

Google www.savagesoaps.com /

`

I now use` O HONEY FAIREST \

soap fragrance gave GI's bunker\

Place away. One jungle gig GRUNT\

Was in Dark/Wet jungle for 90- days\

`

Honest . . .

Lately, a Life

Flashes Before

Me. Father who

Care . . . dismay

I was in woods

`

I ponder Good/Evil

and individual choice

I no like Genocide

`

Wall Street be

a den

of thugs

and need more

arms financial

killer ` profits

`

I'll reread later . . .

Thanks . . .

I go view Sunset

`

Comment by JMac1949 Today on December 29, 2013 at 4:51pm

Art,  you've been floating around inside my head for months now... after I did my "Respect for Jan Sand", you were the first one to pop into my mind, followed quickly by Steel Breeze, "Doc" Roe and David McClain... Jeremiah stood in the shadows and we all would love to join you for some goat cheese, Fat Tire beer and sunset from your porch.

A note of interest: The men who were most responsible for my decision to resist the draft were the African-American and Latino combat veterans who I worked with on the docks at Good Pasteur Grain and at the Central Post Office in Houston, TX. They'd all served in Vietnam and to a man, they all encouraged me to go back to college or do whatever was necessary to legally avoid the draft.

So after the war ended in 1975 , there was a decade when I could only talk with other draft resisters and combat vets. Those who joined the national guard or finagled their way into safe non-combat positions, or took defense industry jobs or stayed in college to maintain their deferments got no respect from me... now thirty years latter I can not bring myself to cast aspersions on anyone for what they chose to do during that era.  That is except for the likes of Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and the rest of the "Chicken Hawk" neo-con crew of hypocritical monkey fuckers! If there is a G_D with any sense of justice, there will be a special place in hell waiting for them and their kind.

Check out the entire list of legislators, combat veterans vs. dilettantes and Chicken Hawks:
http://www.awolbush.com/whoserved.html ...and take note of who votes to balance the budget by reducing veteran's benefits... sad but true.   A very special place in Hell, indeed.

Comment by Arthur James on December 29, 2013 at 4:56pm

`

I just reported a ` RELAUNCH to ` Apple etc;, & Eric Holder

I Hope woman with Pot Belly Exposes ` Naval Pierced Ring

Politicos and CEO would be Terrified to` See Belly Button

Comment by Arthur James on December 29, 2013 at 7:00pm

`

Recall . . . We met upon a jungle trail. Two Vietnamese braced to shoot me.

Shaking . . . I braced myself against a tree, and I shot two human beings.

The third . . . thankfully 'hit the dirt' and crawled away. I asked` What

have I done, why am I here. All alone as I camped in the jungle ( seven

months) I often shook, as I did when I wedged mu M-16 against a tree.

Strange, alien thoughts filled my Mind. I was out of harmony with good,

and I would never be the same. All my Being Trembled. How did I get

into fighting in Vietnam? My Grandfather was West Point, my Father

saw Horror in WW2. Uncle Bernard (West Point) died . . . I grew 

up filled with stories. I was opposed to war, and Never would 

take another Life . . . Draft was the law. Kennedy said it's

not what your country can do for you, but what you can

do for your country. If you ever visit the Vientam

Memorial, you may search for a loved one, 

and you see your own face reflected . . .

If Vietnam did not teach us to not

Repeat killing . . . than the sad

Memories of wars don't mean

nothing ` as in It Don't

Mean Nothin' and

to ignore this

sad truth is 

a weapon 

of defense

and numbness,

and a pretending

that Vietnam didn't

happen. on and on . . .

O, and maybe I'll backtrack,

and try to get this reflection

comment to go . . . Shame

on whoever is proxy killer

and a hacker on Our Salon.

`

retry

backtrack

never QUIT

Comment by Arthur James on December 30, 2013 at 4:07am

`

I 'hit' JUne 13th 2012 @ Jeremiah Horrigan @ Our Salon

Before my Place burned I use the Library's Wifi and get.

Now, I use the Sleep Inn & Suites Wife and spend way

too much time with Wifi. But, before Library Wifi the

Slow Hook Up Dial Up was Trouble. I'd wake up and

read Salon's lawyer. Woe, was Salon a education in

Nasty human nature. I lost 2- Gold Star Memerships

and two free avatars. ` bebop-o (in memory of my

GrandFather, and GoodCelery! ( a farm avatar my

eldest Son used, but no commented) - I use my

Farmer Son's High Speed, or the Library. Gosh.

I just read Jeremiah's Blog. I was surprised that

I commented. I have a bone to pick? O, Justice.

When is FBI Agent ` Sonny gonna complete the

Investigation into Kim Doan's Bank Laundromat

Heist?

I enjoyed ` June 13th, 2012 ` 1968/9 ` Father

& Vietnam Post.

Thanks. Viet` Nam

Viet ` Nam Viet Nam

the Veteran kept saying

in Walter Reed Lockup

Ward as The Vet Ran

From Window to the

next Window. HE

was overrun on

a firebase LZ

Grant. The

Veteran

wasn't me

or Jeremiah.

d wake up a

Comment by David McClain on December 30, 2013 at 9:39am

What Steel Breeze said.

It is what it is and it was what it was. Each and every one of us who found themselves faced with a choice, did what we felt we had to do. There is no blame for either side.....not for me anyway. A portion of me will always be that eighteen year old kid who entered Hue to confront the enemy but over the years that portion has shrunk until now it sometimes feels as if it happened to another person altogether. The passage of time comforts all of us on either side while History will judge us. Personally I'll just be happy to live in peace on my ranch, surrounded by my horses. Those who resisted and those who fought are indeed a brotherhood. Each of us made our choices and lived with them. Nothing else need be said.  Thank you for this.

Comment by Rodney Roe on December 30, 2013 at 11:04am

I commented over on Open S.  Basically, we all did what we needed to do.  Although I was angry when Carter granted amnesty to those who went to Canada it was not because I thought they were traitors and shouldn't be pardoned; it was out of a sense of lack of fairness.  My alternatives were go to Vietnam which I by that time thought wrong, or go to Canada and never be able to come home again, to never again be able to see family.  I was wrong about that and a lot of things.  The people I have no respect for are the ones who claim to be veterans whose rich daddys got them into a guard unit or the coast guard or some unit that would never see combat.

And, as I said over on the other board, I don't feel that I belong in the same group with people who saw combat and were wounded or who went to jail for their convictions.  I just sort of did what my family expected, was lucky, and don't feel special or heroic.

I have a continuing sorrow for my friends who died over there that time has not made go away.

Thanks, James.  R

Comment by Lois Wickstrom on December 30, 2013 at 11:17am

We're still fighting that battle in my neighborhood.  A local park is dedicated to a  neighbor who was killed in Vietnam.  When a mural was planned for this park, only veterans were consulted.  They selected a huge American 50 star flag.  I would prefer a triptych of the dead neighbor: his childhood, his teen years, his tour in Vietnam.  To me, that flag says the only thing about this man is that he died in a war, a war I opposed.  But I can see that the triptych I want is an anti-war statement because it would say that this man was an individual human being whose life ended in war.  If nobody thinks about that, it's probably easier to start more wars and increase the number of veterans.  

Comment by Arthur James on December 30, 2013 at 6:24pm

`

Jan Sand. It's not coward. The orchestrators of war are insane.

The comrade sense, brotherly/sisterly group cohesion ` beyond

simple verbiage. I've been extra hyper-vigilant lately. Later:

`

It's premature for me to go into detail - If you get a chance 

read the Washington Post ref ` Blackwater ( I read the other

day ) Those who are the architects ` Petraeus Ilk` ( CIA )

I put into Depraved category. There are names on the Wall

that were used near Burma ` Caravan Ambushes ` MIA.

Many death were Suicides, Heron Overdoses, Drunken

Rear Are Animosities ...  I learned after the Fact I

was Drafted While employed as a Veteran Advocate

in

The ` Carters/Max Cleland ` VET CENTER OUTREACH

PROGRAM ` the war was worst than I knew, experientially.

People with gun, sleep deprivation, rage, and toss in a Dear

Art ` as in Dear John ` Jody Ran Off with your high school

Kissing` Sweetheart. Suicides and jailing in the first few

years after Vietnam far surpassed the 60,000 Plus etched

on the Black Granite Reflecting Wall. I've Listened to 

the 1972 ` Genocide Testimonies - I've Witnessed

deep heaves of humans Weeping - There are

Plans to leave Afghanistan ... The, ` BOMBINGS?

Left behind arsenals of Wall Street Weaponry?

I get weary of going on and on . . . Afghanistan

will likely be a Bloodbath ... Troops will be Cannon Fodder.

Young (naive) men  (Woman too) will be lured with $100,000

for six-months to "train" ( ARVIN - South Vietnamese TRoops? )

A Afghanistan People who have centuries of tribal Warrior History

and They Don't appreciate USA NATO Troops Trampling Down Their

Potatoes, Blueberries, Poppies, Fruits, Pistachios, and Oil and minerals.

I near a break.

People break.

PTSD is the

Normal

Response to

Having experienced

outside the realm of normal.

War is such insane 

Aberration.

I popping off from the cuff/heart.

I Fear in the GUT future massacres.

It will be worst than James M.E.'s

Circumcision. At a certain age You

Know You will not Live Forever In

These Frail decomposing Human

Bodies . . .

Then what?

NOne Know . . .

ot w get ` glimpse.

Hints. Speculate, and

HOPE when there is

No seemingly good

Reason To Hope.

We can't slough

off ` but why not?

I an not yet convinced

Barack Obama is Sammy

Davis ot ` Tinkerbell.

I am happy I don't have

his burden and it must

be sad to be surrounded

by so many wastrel ill

interest groups. Thanks.

Comment by Arthur James on December 30, 2013 at 6:44pm

`

anna1liese

Just You and me here.

Can I have the next dance.

I wear soft Alpaca socks.

If we step on toes we

no need to wail and

blow nose on cuff.

I gonna sign out.

I save You socks.

They are a weave:

silk, sheep wool,

and possum hair.

They are purple

with big polka

dots. You polka

and show me

how to do

jitterbug

or`Lorenzo Stomp?

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