The Fallen

*The pandemic has been significantly mitigated by medical science’s gritty
determination to beat this mortal enemy, although it is a worldly war and
many more battles need be won before humankind prevails. Thank you, medical
science! As a result of increasing vaccination availability, more people
are venturing out*, *feeling safe enough to do so. Formal gatherings of
large numbers may not be encouraged, but the parks in my area are looking
more and more a place to lay around or frolic about. *

*One of these parks has a monument dedicated to WWI solders killed in that
conflict. The fallen whose names are part of this large structure, all
hailed from the village wherein it stands, and a smaller town adjacent to
it. Of course, the imposing design of this tribute to those locals who died
in the line of duty in that war, symbolically honors any and all of The
Fallen in our country’s war efforts throughout* *its history.*

*And* *Memorial Day is soon to arrive. A formal ceremony at that monument
may again take place as, until 2020, was a yearly event.* *If that ceremony
occurs, valor, bravery and sacrifice will be oft repeated words. Wars means
dead soldiers. They cannot speak for themselves, however. One would prefer
to assume they possessed a patriotic nobility that held up until the moment
of their demise. That whatever threat to thei
r motherland they had been
ordered to fight against, they were inspired to die for if need be. * *Dalton
Trumbo’s* *classic anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun, (set during WWI)
however, questions such assumptions of the mindset of those pitted in life
or death, in the moment battlefield confrontations. Trumbo asserts that
commemorative oratory regarding the war dead cannot assume any soldier’s
last thoughts were anything but completely patriotic.* *No one alive can
have any idea of what doomed combatants felt about anything*. *Maybe they,
as Trumbo wrote,* *cried out for a loved one. A wife. A Child. A mother.
But not their motherland. Maybe in their last breath they cursed the
high-up-the-command-chain-strategists, damning them to hell for a failed
plan. *

*Lose some battles, but win the war. And to the winner goes the spoils.
That’s a fittingly concise eulogy for WWI’s casualties. No need for
highfalutin oratory. It’s sanctimonious coming from the mouths of
politicians, likely posturing for the next election. *

**************************************************************************************************

*One of the other wars that American soldiers fought–and which has its own
national monument–was in Vietnam. While all wars are inherently acts of
bloody insanity*, *the Vietnam campaign was quite the case of tragically
underestimating an enemy on their own turf. The historians have not been
kind to our government’s decision to escalate tensions in Southeast Asia.
Those who were sent to fight against “creeping Communism” ultimately were
not able to rescue South Vietnam from North Vietnam. Not that they didn’t
fight with enough intent. U.S. forces were withdrawn after about ten years
of fighting and nearly 60,000* *dead. The Generals conceded they couldn’t
figure out how to succeed. The North prevails, a humiliating concession to
the futility of fighting on any longer (to save a country the size of
California from that commie
boogeyman). Those who fought to no avail and
got to return home were often met by a public that accused them of being,
among other invectives, “baby killer” criminals. They won many battles, but
lost the war. Not that it was their fault, but hey, the ugly optics of Vietnam’s
carnage was broadcast (including a daily body count) to that ultimately resentful, disrespectful public.
At least that part of the public who had no loved one involved in that
conflict.* *That’s gratitude huh? As one notorious 20th century politician
once said: don’t make no waves, and don’t back no losers. That part of the
public. okay? Vietnam veterans, alive or dead, are entitled to the same
respect* *as any member of the military. For damn sure.*

*In contrast, today, to be a member of the military is to be automatically
branded a warrior, always fighting to protect national security, blah blah.
There’s a perceived threat 24/7. Russia, China. Iran. Is Granada still in
play? Whatever. Now it’s always rah rah for our armed forces. This
knee-jerk response to what it means to be today’s soldier is aided and
abetted by a slickly package PR puff-piece strategy. The media doesn’t show
the blood or the body bags any longer. It now allows the military to screen
the reporting from afar, filtering out the blemishes, air-brushing those
potentially undermining optics. Now the media genuflects while military
fighter jets roar above sporting events, propagandizing at several hundred
miles per hour.* *Our current military deployments thus are sanitized,
packaged to be consumed without fear of possible failure. Even when failure
is always a possibility.*

*If this posting is interpreted as disrespectful of The Fallen, then one
clearly misses the point about war and those who die fighting it. A simple
sense of gratitude for those who do the fighting–against a credible threat
or not–should suffice. They deserve no less.* *Place some flowers at the
base of any war memorial to give thanks. And be thankful that you are
alive
to do so, and not one of the fallen*.

*There are more monuments to be built for wars yet to be fought. For
combatants yet to be born. Perhaps one final war. As Albert Einstein said,
I know not with what weapons WW3 will be fought, but WW4 will be fought
with sticks and stones.*

*But never you mind.* *Say thanks this Memorial Day, and maybe even get
outside and have that cookout.

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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1 Response to The Fallen

  1. Julie Samuels says:

    The current war we need to fight is the one that is destroying our world – not just our soldiers. The attack is being led by the Corporatists – the rich and the ones who want to be richer using toxic materials and destructive procedures that are good for them and nobody or nothing else. It is the final Holocaust that , unknown to the Corporatists , will include them as well

    Like

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