Sunday, November 11, 2007

the myth of veterans day

Words from the Wikipedia article on veterans day: heroes. honor. service. tribute. grateful nation. homage. solemnly remember. sacrifices. fought valiantly. preserve heritage of freedom. an enduring peace.

Words from George Bush's speech today, on veterans day: good. noble. just. promise. sacrifice. honor. blessed. brave. service. valiantly. free. home. magnificent. proud. victory. safely.

why all these words? These words are being used to create/propogate a myth. By "myth" I mean "a traditional or sacred story that attempts to iterate, explain, or justify the thoughts and actions of a people".

The myth we are creating/being created in is strongly related to the myth of redemptive violence.

The reality is this: my father, who is a reasonably good man, has probably been more profoundly affected by his involvement with the Vietnam War than by any other one thing in his life, including his acoholic father. He has spent time in psych wards. He has to take psychotropic medications to function. Apart from very faint memories as a very tiny lad, I cannot remember a time when my dad hasn't suffered from chronic pain of one type or another in his body. He was doubtless exposed to Agent Orange. He was doubltless introduced to the most psychologically toxic horrors over there in Vietnam. He without doubt had to kill people, real live human beings with moms and dads and brothers and sisters. He probably had to kill children.

I'm not saying all this to dishonor my dad. He's pretty damn close to the awesome end of the spectrum, as dads go.

I'm saying it because the myth is bunk. My dad didn't sacrifice his health, his sanity, his humanity, for a good cause. He sacrificed it for a lousy cause--so that we Americans could continue to be the word's most excellent consumers. So we can continue be part of the 20% who consume 80% of the world's resources. So we can work 40 hour weeks, and have nice warm beds, and instant surgery in case of placental abruption, and personal computers upon which we can blog, and unbelieably huge amounts of food to eat, and pocket money, and 60" plasma televisions, and big fancy trucks with big fancy fifth wheels in which we can spend our retirement putzing around this beautiful nation, all while 2 billion people live on $2/day or less, and the continent of Africa can't even control stop malaria, the tools for the stopping of which have been around quite a while already, and 30,000 children starve to death every day, each for the lack of less money than we spend on lattes each day.

My dad sacrificed all that he sacrificed in order to maintain that imbalance in the world. Because such an imbalance doesn't just stick around by itself. He sacrificed so that we the powerful can continue to have so much power at the expense of the weak. And in spite of all the lovely words of George Bush, and all the other deluded Americans who will write and celebrate and weep and remember this weekend--that's a rotten cause. Vietnam, and Nicaragua, and Laos, and Cuba, and Afghanistan, and Iraq (and this list goes on for quite a long time) do not qualify as noble, honor, sacrifice, blah blah blah ad nauseam. They're all based on the same hogwash myth. It's all about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of normal, weak, poor, downtrodden people all over the world dying, just to make sure we stay on top of the heap. I hope today or tomorrow somebody blows up Liberty Enlightening the World, with her yotta-bullshit bronze plaque which reads

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

2 million new refugees from Iraq since 2003.
In Syria alone as many as 500,000 Iraqi girls and women have been forced into prostitution due to economic hardship.
Fewer than 5000 have been accepted into the United States.


gooditsraining said...

thanks for writing this post. yesterday at my church during small group we talked about Veterans and how to honor them. It was really hard for me to listen to it. The church is a progressive church. I don't know. I think we do need to find a way to honor veterans while at the same time honoring the humanity of others. Maybe the two are irreconcilable. Anyway good post.

DeeDee said...

WOW - this made me want to weep and cheer all at once.

I never have understood how we can have such welcoming/kind/humble words on the statue of liberty and yet have so much said against immigrants (specifically Mexicans here in Cali). People seem to forget that they are the children of the downtrodden because they are now on top...

Anonymous said...

You are a really young, naive child. You haven't a clue what the entire world is all about. If you ever get a chance to visit any foreign country and see what life is like there because they have allowed mad, evil men to infiltrate their country, then you will see what it would be like if any of them enter this country. It is not pretty. The fact that you can say what you want is unbelievable and precious. It is a shame you don't know what you are talking about. Yes, some things you say are true. It can be about the wrong reasons. Sometimes it is about being "King of the Hill". Wars have been waged throughout history and no one, absolutely no one likes them really. But, pay close attention to the world around you right now and watch the slow move towards stopping our military. The insidious internet which perpetuates that what we do and who we are is bad. When peace looks good, you should know that somewhere in the world some crazed idiot is going to try to change all that and we start all over again. Freedom to any one country will come at some cost. That is not something that the USA alone is responsible for. We are not the enemy. Innocents always die. People die. I will die, you will die. How we die is not always up to us and yet, how we live is. Honor veterans because they are doing what they are because they believe it will serve a greater purpose. Freedom and peace for all. We want the whole world to live in the same kind of grandiose world we live in here in this country. Everyone in this world deserves a chance to prosper and educate themselves. When some buttwipe wants to take that away from them and they say to us: "Help us." are you asking us to say "No, we can't because some sniveling kids who don't know what they are talking about don't want us to help you?" And there is not one country in this whole world who has not asked us to help them in some form or another. You just don't get to hear all that. But I have. I served. I'm a female VietNam veteran who will fight to the death that my grandchildren remain free and can visit their friends in foreign countries without fear of terrorism. Myth of veterans day....why don't you grow up? I feel really bad for your dad. He is a casualty of war and still living. How old are you? Did you not study history in school? Do you not understand the wars fought throughout mankind's existence?

You are being self-centered and self-serving by making this all about us in the here and now. What about your children and grandchildren? It is not a pretty sight to see what goes on in those other countries. You are being fed selective information to serve one purpose. To stop the US from being anywhere to stop the madness of leaders forcing their own people into what you claim is now our fault. Why don't you take a closer look and do a bit more research into what you believe is a myth. Go deeper then your own home and own experiences and what you read on blogs. This is not fun, it is not games, it is not just about Americans wanting what spoiled Americans want. It is about human rights for all and to stop what you don't want to see, what none of us want to see. But we don't need to free them and bring them here. That is not what Lady Liberty is all about, you know. She is about providing the means in which we can be free to "teach a man to fish so he can eat for the rest of his life". Not to give a man a fish for one meal but to be able to provide for his whole family for the rest of his life. We are out there to help those countries who are oppressed by madmen to learn and develop their own capabilities and join us in freedom in their own countries. To be honest, when I first read your words I believed you were of the Talaban and spreading discontent to break up a great country. Strange should it be that you are who you say you are. Here is a word I would like you to add to your vocabulary when it comes to your father, your homeland and your government (despite the fact that they are not perfect) LOYALTY
Give it a try, you might like it.

Grow up, puppy.

Benjamin Ady said...


I reposted your comment to the top of my blog, with some responses from me. I also took the liberty of pasting your comment into the thread with the same beginning post over at

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