I thought about writing something today about the looming menace of Iranian ICBMs (quoting the commander guy here) or the irony of the thought that we might bomb Kurds because they are an unruly pain in the tail. Yes I know. The PKK are really screwing things up, but it would, nevertheless be an irony perceptible for those who are condemned to ironic contemplation. Then there is the Syrian boondoggle of the Israeli Air Force. Why has there been secrecy about the strike? The Israelis wanted it that way. Simple. Occam, Sherlock and the duck rule strike again. (Look it up or someone here will explain it to you) Not today, folks.
A lot of you wanted to read more of Alan Farrell’s musings. This appeared in "Arion." Have at it. I have mostly quit expressing Alan’s level of skepticism of professional "NAMVETS." I found that such thoughts are not tolerated by many. In particular I remember a retired diplomat who said that my lack of "compassion" told him that although I had been near combat I had never actually fought. He told me that although he had never served in the military, his trauma was a burden. You never know… pl
I’m afraid I have an aversion to “warrior poet” types, Mr. Farrell appears to be heaping scorn on someone who is trying to make sense of something the only way he knows about it.
As for post traumatic stress disorder, it does exist from what I have seen. But I don’t have it, I’m just bitter and twisted from spending six years of my life dutifully performing a fools errand for blowhard politicians.
I’m told I can have a medla if I apply for it. They can stick it up their *****.
Your retired diplomat is a perfect example of my cretinous cognito ergo sum “thought” dynamic. The sun shines out my ass, ergo the planet revolves around me.
As for the “professional Namvets’, I have to think that their service was one of the ultimate defining and refining times. They came home to a nation who didn’t want to hear about it, soon to be consumed by Watergate. If their nation being at war – a complete clusterf**k of a war at that – fosters the desire and need to opine, in tones courageous or snivelling, well, what were they fighting for again . . . .freedom?
They have a certain legitimacy, and there’s certainly enough 20/20 hindsight and Sunday morning quarterbacking spewing from the rest of us.
Walrus, Ah come on, file for your “medla”, you don’t get them for yourself, they’re for the grandkids to fight over after you’re gone, along with your house, car & $$$$$.
Sitting self-appointed in judgement on Odysseus is a curious amalgam of vanity, ignorance and pointlessness.
If there were more Odysseuses around, the world might be a somewhat better place.
Walrus, the more I think about this it seems no one should have to “apply” for acknowledgement of their own meritorious service. Isn’t your commanding officer supposed to file for you? Oh, by the way, Welcome Home, I’m really glad you made it.
“six years of my life dutifully performing a fools errand”
What are you talking about?
Curse that Farrell, he is what I wanted (and failed) to be when I grew up.
“If there were more Odysseuses around, the world might be a somewhat better place.”
There are. It isn’t.
Mr. Murry has me a little confused: First, mayhap someone did indeed make that comment vis-a-vis war photography (‘truly’ as Murry indicates); however he or she was borrowing liberally (plagiarizing, stealing, riffing) from Jon Silkin who said such about war poetry, and used that as his justification for his *extraordinarily* idiosyncratic selection of WWI verse worthy to be remembered. It’s a political statement and a judgment either way.
Also, Mr. Murry’s brother served in Fayetteville ARKANSAS? Pray tell, what military base is there? Perhaps he was confused and meant Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of Fort Bragg, SWC and the 82nd Airborne? If so, I’m afraid his brother is also unoriginal: the term ‘fayette-nam’ can be traced by a friend of mine who served in the 82nd back at least as far as 1974. And was still being called such in 2003, when I bade it a fond farewell.
I’m not by nature a nitpicker, but I like a little ethos with a person’s comments, and when the whole point is authenticity (who has a right to speak for vietvets or any vets at all, whether professional or ‘volunteer’–I humbly suggest Murry meant ‘amateur’ as in doing it out of passion, as opposed to sheer will), well, then, getting these silly little details right somehow becomes important, at least to concrete-headed illiterates such as myself.
Anyhow, I’m far too cynical (as patently obvious) to get worked up by Shay’s cooptation of epic to attempt to elucidate the ‘warrior’s dilemma’. I think Robert Bly broke that part of me clean off, frankly. As for the issue at hand: the reintegration of warrior into society, it seems that the problem itself is more likely on *society’s* shoulders–as Conrad would call those of us with two solid addresses, like anchors, a butcher on one corner, a policeman around the other…. (I paraphrase because I’m lazy.) That sort of ‘civilized’ safety removes the ‘citizen’ from having to engage even in the most marginal of acts of violence–ask your average 10 year old to connect the parcel of KFC he’s suckin’ on to the picture of an actual chicken and he’s lost. We buy our food in little styrofoam and plastic wrap, devoid of blood and violence and think our consciences clean. Perhaps that false sanitization is really the root of the problem?
Bravo, Mr. Murry. In 2001 a trio of Nam vets talked to my college class on the Vietnam war. They told about going to a local veteran’s organization lodge (not sure if it was American Legion or VFW). The WWII vets called the Nam vets “losers.” That had to hurt more than either being ignored or mocked with gestures or spit.
Not quite sure how this discussion came to be about veterans of Vietnam in general rather than those who have made a life’s work of being a victim.
Veterans of Vietnam have nothing to be ashamed of. The United States lost the war in Indochina, not the men who fought there. pl
“Our Depression-Era/WWII-generation mother told us both not to think that “service town” bigotry towards transient military personnel amounted to any new thing under the sun.”
Supposedly there were “Beautify Biloxi – Kill an Airman” bumper stickers in Biloxi MS, home of Keesler AFB, during the late 1970s early 1980s.
A friend told me it was a zoo back then. They had clamped down on base and lots of local watering holes were off limits when I went through. We had to be careful off base as there were plenty of scammers waiting to help separate young airmen from their wallets.
Start talking about closing down these bases and everyone just loves the military then!
Oh, and they still call it Fayettenam. Many parts of that town are a dump.
“Veterans of Vietnam have nothing to be ashamed of. The United States lost the war in Indochina, not the men who fought there.”
I think most people have come around to this understanding. In my life, Vietnam is not a topic that comes up much in my generation and younger (I’m 43). We have no emotional investment in either side of the argument unless we have adopted a position from someone who did live through those times. No-one in my immediate family fought in Vietnam – my dad and uncle served during the 1950s. While growing up in the late 1970s and early 1980s, my buddies and I didn’t sit around discussing Vietnam, even though one of my best friend’s dad fought there and was an LTC in the Army. As typical in America, most of us have simply “moved on.”
There are arguments from my generation and younger that the problem we have today in Washington is that the political parties are still ultimately operating within the shadow of Vietnam. They have not “moved on.” The GOP wants to make up for our loss and show that we can do WWII redux when we want to, while the Dems are paralyzed with the fear of being labeled peacenik losers and appeasers.
As a side note, when I went through training at Keesler AFB in the late 1980s, there were displays in the Group’s HQ of airmen who had won high honors during Vietnam. I can’t remember the exact phrase they used to describe “the war in Indochina” but it was something like “…during armed conflict in Southeast Asia.”
Confessions from the Courthouse: yes, there actually is something known, at least from my experience, as the “Vietnam Vet Defense”. As an officer of the court, one has to figure out if the Viet Vet Defense is legit or not each time it is raised, particularly in plea negotiations and sentencing. Such an inquiry is difficult. I always started by asking if the one raising the Vietnam Vet defense has a CIB. From there, certain presumptions arise but it has to be done on an ad hoc basis.
The best scenario is when the judge sitting on the bench is a Vietnam Vet because then odds increase that the judge can determine how much weight, if any, to give to such a defense.
I know one judge who is just unbelievable at such an inquiry. He is a man of great humility and intelligence. He knows the art of justice. Graduated from Duke undergrad and then decided to join the US Army before attending UGA law school, as he was certain he would have gotten drafted. So, alas, he falls into the category of draftee type. He is very unpretentious and mild mannered but, as it turns out, he has a CIB and a closet full of medals that no one knows about. No strutting around. Most would never guess his battlefield accomplishments. He is not overly sentimental but he always give the little guy a fair shake and a honest hearing.
He is amazing when it comes to separating the wheat from the chaff in regard to the Vietnam Vet defense.
Addendum: he speaks highly of Dean Rusk. When Dean Rusk was teaching at UGA law school, he’d always invite Viet Vets into his office and then ask the vet to tell him whatever he wanted. Dean Rusk would listen all afternoon if necessary. Then Dean Rusk would help the vet in every way possible.
You relay this:
“In particular I remember a retired diplomat who said that my lack of “compassion” told him that although I had been near combat I had never actually fought. He told me that although he had never served in the military, his trauma was a burden. You never know… pl”
I must say that I was really taken aback by this. My personal experience is that you are very compassionate, though fiercely independent of thought. Your blog and attention to your readers is, I believe, evidence of that. What am I missing here? Or am I totally misunderstanding the meaning of this comment?