Monday, May 28, 2007

A Few Thoughts On Memorial Day

By Manifesto Joe

In my youth I studiously avoided all things military -- such were the times. As a teen, I didn't know anybody, not even the most macho right-wing dolt, who wanted to go to Vietnam. At 18 I reluctantly registered for the draft, but the war ended (infamously) while I was in college, under deferment. It seemed surreal then. People like me, coming of age in the '70s, could barely remember a time when there wasn't a Vietnam War.

But now, this Memorial Day, I think about my dad. I found out 28 years after his death that he won 5 Bronze Stars in the Pacific theater of World War II. He never told stories when I was a kid; he didn't seem to want to talk about any of it. I think he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I didn't know about his war record until I found his discharge papers among my mom's stuff a couple of years ago.

But people like him put it on the line for an America that hardly seems to exist anymore. The chickenhawks betrayed us, first with Vietnam and now with the Iraq fiasco, and sullied the memory of people like my dad.

Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas


--Blue Girl said...

Very nice. There were a lot of men like your father who put it away and got down to the business of raising kids and buying houses and not thinking they were all that and a bag of chips. God love 'em.

Cranky Daze said...

They called it "shell shock" back then, Joe. My uncle served in Europe, and when he came home, Mother said he was shell shocked, and that sounded like a really bad thing. One day Mother and I got on a train and went to visit her brother who was in the Veterans hospital with "shell shock."

I was very young, but I remember a big ward with many beds lined up in a row, and a rather small man with black hair lying on a bed, and he had such a gentle look about him that I didn't understand how he could have something wrong with him that had to do with killing people. I remember he looked at me for what seemed a very long time, and then he smiled at me, and I never saw him again. Mother said it was because of the shell shock,and that he'd said he couldn't live with it, and so he didn't. Years later she told me he had taken his own life. I felt very sad about that because he had seemed like such a gentle man.

I'm guessing it's hardest on the gentle ones.

Manifesto Joe said...

Hi, Cranky: I do know the older term. Nowadays everything is phrased in a clinical, PC polite way. But anyway, my dad was an extremely light case. Sounds like your uncle was, essentially, destroyed as surely as if he'd died in combat. It's too bad Bush and Cheney and Rummy couldn't be forced to spend a day with someone who emerged from a war -- their war -- so irreparably damaged.

opit said...

The merchant marine got in WW II too. My dad was Air Force and didn't seem too bad for having done a full tour ( most didn't make it ) but a boss would get up in the middle of the night and run his hands along the wall in his sleep : checking for seepage on the bulkheads. And nightmares - but he was one of the mild cases.
Without engaging in hyperbole in the least - BushCo seems like the International Nazi Conspiracy. I just made the name up, but it says what I mean.Or BlueGirl can tell you my oldest name for them: the Fourth Reich.