Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veterans Day

Support the Troops End the WarImage by swanksalot via Flickr

Yes, I know, I'm a day late but yesterday was a mixed emotional day for listening and reflecting for me. I suppose my Veterans Day thoughts began on Tuesday while listening to the memorial service held at Ft. Hood for the 13 murdered soldiers. I didn't start out trying to "attend" that service but as I moved from room to room in the house having breakfast, getting ready for the day, NPR hosted a live broadcast and I was pulled in.

Pulled in to hear the names and remembrances of each person. As President Obama named them one by one and recalled something of their lives, of course, they "became persons" to me. They were not troops, or fatalities, or nameless bodies in flag-draped coffins - they were persons of families, of hometowns, of consequence.

Then yesterday, Veterans Day, a similar broadcast of war stories and the veterans who told them, once more, became persons to me. Hearing the expertise, hearing the gunfire, hearing the shrieks of injured men, the shouting voices of men rescuing their live, as well as their dead friends who had just been blown apart by a roadside bomb shook me, filled me with intense sorrow.

I remember feeling this same sorrow while standing at a Peace Rally on our Main Street last year sometime. The names and ages of the dead were being read one by one. These names were real people, men, women, sometimes really more like boys and girls as their ages were revealed. I was a mess inside and outside only tearful.

I have a very good friend who heads up the Peace Rally every single solitary Sunday afternoon in our town - a small body of citizens join her. She doesn't scream and shout and ask for civil disobedience; she just asks for support to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't go there and I wonder how she gets the courage and fortitude to keep on keepin' on. I admire her, I admire the rallies for peace - why don't I attend them? I don't know except that they profoundly affect my own peace - not much of a reason is it? She has said before to me and the words echoed in my ears yesterday (although not necessarily her direct quotes), scenes like Ft. Hood blood and bodies, emergency scenes of blownup humvees, Iraqi and Afghanistan citizens dying in their marketplace streets happen EVERY DAY; every day while I visit the grocery store in peace, while I talk on the phone with my children and on and on - you get the picture.

I don't know how to reconcile my feelings of sorrow, shame, and helplessness of not doing more for peace when I listen or attend meetings about wars and politics and young citizens of the world dying for no reason! Do you ever have these feelings? How do you balance your life in respect to the wars our country continues to initiate (?), participate in, and fund with your own personal views of how or why we should be involved in fighting wars outside of our own country?
Such simple questions - any thoughts out there?

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  1. Hi SS, I wanted to write something back about prayer or hope or doing what we can, but the truth is that in regards to these wars and many other things that we face, I feel helpless. And in the face of my helplessness, I look away. Not forever and not completely. I, too, hear the news reports and my heart aches and my eyes fill with tears and I tell my son how to stay out of the military and I get angry. But then I have to put it away somewhere in my psyche, in my being. I just can't live with it right before my eyes. I also have great respect for and gratitude towards people like your friend. She has great strength and courage. I am sure that she is answering God's clear call and we are such a better society because of her faithfulness. Love....

  2. My thoughts:

    "Preemptive war" is aggression. It is not "defense."

    Does it make sense to invade and try to conquer an entire country because a handful of people taking refuge in that country have perpetrated despicable violence?

    Does it make sense to try to win a war in someone else's homeland unless there is overwhelming popular support for your cause both at home and IN THAT LAND?

    Does it make sense to violate moral standards in order to seek out and punish those who violate moral standards? Who is destroyed in the process?

    I am a veteran of the Vietnam era. I was sent to fight a war to "protect our interests." Our county "lost the war," but now trades actively with Vietnam. Did war or engagement lead to the current civility between our countries? What if our leaders had invoked engagement and dialogue rather than a war machine that failed in someone else's homeland? Would 59,000 of my peers have died in a failed invasion of a foreign land?

    What will be our next "defensive invasion?"

    What if we put the same level of resources into education, infrastructure, and diplomacy, that we put into war? What if we chose to wage peace rather than wage war?

  3. Rebecca, You and I seem to be on the same page regarding our inward capacity for sorrow and our outward need to disburse it in some way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me on this dreadful subject of war. I know the US has withdrawn from Aghanistan before leaving them in some kind of awful lurch and vulnerability but man I just would like for troops to be home! Geezer Dude sent some excellent comments as well about the subject.....


  4. Geezer -

    Your comments, of course, well maybe not of course, I probably don't agree with you on everything - make a lot of sense to me. People are dying from tyrant aggression all over the world, women are abused, children are hungry - horrible issues. But I'm not convinced that the United States is correct in believing that we can conquer all evil with ammunition. Your point about VietNam diplomacy beyond the sadness of vast loss of life is so right on. Are we naive to believe that the world would lose respect for the US if we meddled less in other countries' business? I don' know....

    Thank you so much for your comments. They mean a lot to me and to know that you read from time to time.


  5. I try to write about my feelings.

    When the U.S. contractors were hanged from a bridge in Fallujah, I wrote to the New York Times and my letter was published. I've sent other letters that were published in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal online.

    Since starting my blog in late September, I've written about the rows of "Faces of the Fallen" that appear in the Washington Post (a new "edition" came out yesterday, and I again spent time, as I described in my post, just looking at the faces, reading the ages, the too few details about these lives, save how they were lostd); I've written an essay, "Give Me Back the Human" that was republished on the Concepts4Peace site; I've written about violence in several posts. Today, I published the Charter for Compassion.

    I have to write. I have to believe that if more voices are raised, more people march in the streets, more people take the oath of the Charter for Compassion, something great that matters will take place all over the world.

    Naive? Perhaps. I'm 57. I have a 21-year-old son. I could not imagine losing him as so many mothers all around the world every day lose their drugs, to gangs, to violence of every unimaginable kind.

    I can imagine a world without violence. For such a world to exist, I ask myself, do I have to imagine it without people?

  6. Maureen,

    Thank you so much for your words and heartfelt work against the wars. You give me more courage for initiative of some kind rather than my avoidance of that which is so painful for me to observe. I appreciate your efforts on behalf of our troops, our country, our sons and daughters. My children have all passed draft age but I do have grandchildren and the senseless death in a senseless war is a fate that should visit any generation!

  7. SS - you and rebecca have both articulated well many of my own emotions. i sit here sick and saddened after reading this post - the thought of even hearing those names brings tears to my eyes. i believe each of us is called to respond in our own ways. for me, right now, it is starting one person or moment at a time. working toward healing within (for myself and others) so it may spread into the larger world. a few days ago i wrote these words "our laughter and compassion will save the world." i didn't even recognize them as my own until someone pointed them out in a comment and saw it as "the answer" to suffering - perhaps even war. first, we have to learn to laugh and then to carry the compassion into and outward from our own hearts.

    is one moment or one person enough to change anything?'s what i have, so i will start there.