Truthout sparks action by revealing systemic injustice and providing a platform for transformative ideas through investigative reporting and analysis. Now, that is essay on my journey by train something for which a person should be proud nor thanked. In fact, it is regrettable, and for me a source of guilt and shame, something I will have to live with for the rest of my life, as the past cannot ever be undone. The largest delisting of protected federal lands in US history will harm species and exacerbate climate change.
Today’s action by the Trump administration encourages widespread discrimination in the provision of health care. Get Truthout’s daily edition delivered straight to your inbox. 0px 5px 5px 5px ! We don’t share your email with anyone. Marine in Zaranj, Nimroz province, December 30, 2011. I do not want to appear disrespectful or ungrateful, but should we meet on the street one day, do say “Hello,” or “Fine day” or other such nicety, but please do not thank me for “my service” as a United States Marine. I make this request because my service, as you refer to it, was basically, either to train to become a killer or to actually kill people and blow shit up.
First off, it brings to mind my wasted youth and lost innocence, and the horrible and unnecessary deaths of good friends and comrades. Second, it reminds me of my responsibility and culpability for the pain and suffering I caused innocent people, again something I would rather forget, but cannot. Third, it reinforces my belief that you have absolutely no idea about the nature and reality of the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, because if you did, you would understand that thanks are inappropriate. Fourth, it reminds me that many of those who feel the need to offer thanks were apathetic about – or even supportive of – the war, while they refuse to participate themselves or did little or nothing to end it. In making this request not to be thanked for my service, I am, of course, expressing only my opinion, and, perhaps, my idiosyncrasy, and I make no claim to be speaking for other veterans.
I would wager, however, that many, perhaps even most, who have experienced the horror of war and have the courage and presence of mind to think about and evaluate what the war they served in was truly about would understand and probably concur with this request. Those veterans, however, who may not agree, who cling to the mythology of heroism, glory, honor and nobility of war, do so in large measure from fear that acknowledging war’s reality would somehow diminish their sacrifice and the sacrifices of those whose lives were lost. Perhaps understandably, they view such sacrifices and loss as difficult enough to live with when they had value and purpose, and as intolerable if they were misguided and unnecessary. To these brothers and sisters, I would offer the following questions and observations for them to ponder. First, what was accomplished by your sacrifice and by the waste of lives and treasure in Vietnam, in Iraq and in Afghanistan?
Where is the honor, glory and nobility in killing and dying for greed, incompetence, and paranoia? Second, the mythology you cling to for comfort is a tool of political leaders to make war palatable, to garner support for their militarism and abandonment of diplomacy. It is what motivates future idealistic, perhaps naive, young people to “heed the call,” to seek honor and glory, by enlisting in the military to fight for a cause they have been deceived into believing is right, just and necessary, but which is, in reality, a string of wars for corporate greed, power and hegemony. All who are touched by war are tainted and require readjustment, perhaps even rehabilitation, but in order to truly come home from war, to make the perilous journey of healing, one must face the realities of one’s own war experience head on, as no healing is possible from fantasy, myth, rationalization and distortion of truth. So, in the future, if you really insist on thanking me for something, do not thank me for the eight years I spent as a Marine, but for the 45 or so years following my discharge from the military that I have spent as an activist fighting for human rights and social justice and to end the insanity of war. Frankly, however, I would prefer that you just say hello, or fine day or other such nicety.