Friday, February 22, 2008

Maybe We'll Learn This Time

Anyone who’s been reading my posts here for the last few years–a number I would estimate in the high single digits–will know that Vietnam was, and remains a defining event in my life. I wish it were not but it’s history and there’s nothing I can do about it except learn for the future. My Vietnam experience has many facets, ranging from a far away event that could affect me personally, to a series of actual events that took place in that country and my reactions to all this, then and now. I’ve been living with this motherfucker for at least 40 years in one form or another. The past few years, beginning with my 2002 Appalachian Trail hike and the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq, have been particularly significant for me. The AT hike brought some closure to long ago events just as the current wars brought all those events back to the present.

Within this galaxy of events and experiences, one in particular stands out these days: the Vietnam Veterans Against the War Winter Soldier Investigation in early 1971. Ironically, I heard nothing about this at the time. I was “humping the boonies” (combat patrol) as a cherry grunt with the First Cavalry. If Stars and Stripes carried the story, I missed it and it never turned up on the Armed Forces Vietnam Network radio news that I remember. Not long after, VVAW staged Dewey Canyon III in Washington. I saw that story in Stars and Stripes. Later I learned about Winter Soldier.

These events electrified me. Seeing brother veterans--guys who knew what war truly was--speaking out against their, and now my own, war gave me a sense of pride and hope. Pride to be associated with these heroes (if only in my mind) and hope that Americans would recognize the war for the disaster it was. Being able to join VVAW as veteran who served in combat is one of my prouder moments. It offers some validity to my service.

That’s why I am urging everyone to follow Winter Soldier II, an investigation into the brutality and dehumanization of war, sponsored by Iraq Veterans Against the War. Unlike the original, I think WS II will get lots more attention as an event, especially since the wingnuts are out to discredit the whole affair ahead of time rather than waiting until after the fact and the damage is done as was the case in 1971. Winter Soldier II will take place in Washington, DC March 13-16 and may actually bring the war home to the rest of America that's still out shopping or numbing their minds with the slime oozing from their television screens. I hope.

Check out the video on the IVAW home page. That says everything you need to know about war.

[crossposted at Mockingbird's Medley.]

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