Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vietnam War Heroes

In memoriam
Bruce Gordon Gustafson
July 9, 1945 – December 13, 1969

All of a sudden, [Gerry] looked over at me. “What the hell are we doing over here, anyway?”
“Killin’ Commies for Christ,” I laughed. “Makin’ the world safe for Democracy. Helpin’ the stockholders at Dow Chemical pay off their mortgages. Now look who’s thinkin’ too much.”
“No, I mean it.”
“So do I. How the f*ck should I know? I knew the answer, you think I’d be a f*ckin’ lance corporal? Why don’t you go and ask the Colonel?”
“I did,” Gerry said, “Yesterday.”
“Go on.”
“No, really, I did. I hadda take him some documents and stuff, and I was just standing there waiting for him to sign ’em, so I asked him.”
“Chr*st, you got brass balls. You buckin’ for private? What’d he say?”
“He said, ‘Our jobs.’”
“What? What the f*ck kind of answer is that?
“That’s what he said. That’s all. Real serious-like. ‘Our jobs.’”
“J*s*s. Hell of a way to make a living.”
W. D. Ehrhart, Vietnam–Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir (p. 98–9)

Muhammad Ali

Ehrhardt disagreed with Ali when he first got to Vietnam. I have a hard time believing he disagreed by the time he left.
“Man, I ain't got no quarrel with them Vietcong.”
“My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people inI the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father... Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.”

Daniel Berrigan

I can’t come up with any quotes from Daniel Berrigan, but he went to jail for saying that the war was wrong. He was right.

Daniel Ellsberg

From today’s version of Wikipedia (my emphasis): “In late 1969—with the assistance of his former RAND Corporation colleague Anthony Russo and the staff of Senator Edward Kennedy—Ellsberg secretly made several sets of photocopies of the classified documents to which he had access; these later became known as the Pentagon Papers. They revealed that the government had knowledge, early on, that the war could most likely not be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly. Further, as an editor of the New York Times was to write much later, these documents ‘demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance.’”

Murray Rothbard

“The British [during the American Revolution], just as the Americans now in Vietnam, had very great difficulty distinguishing between the peasants and the guerrillas. They say they all look alike – well, they are alike, they are them. In other words, peasants in the daytime pick up the guns at night and pop the British soldiers. … In the American Revolution, it was the British soldiers, in the Viet Nam war, it is the American soldiers, but the principle is the same. The interesting thing is that on the other hand, the counterrevolutionary forces, in other words, the Government battling against the Revolution, has to do just the opposite: they have superior fire power for various reasons, they have the official army, but they don’t have the support of the population – so in their kind of warfare, they have to amass genocidal terror against the civilian population, they try to break the morale of the civilians, try to cut their support off from the guerrillas and so forth.” - from an interview in Reason magazine, February 1973

Jeffrey Miller

I have never stood my ground when it looked like weapons would be fired. Jeffrey Miller did.

Honorable Mention: Major General Smedley Butler, USMC

The most decorated soldier of World War I

“I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.” -- Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 

Remember the bravery of the Vietnam veterans if you will, but do not forget that after the war was lost, for whatever reason, we did not lose any freedom to those they were sent to fight. We have been losing freedoms ever since, but we have been losing those freedoms to the people who sent those men to fight in Vietnam and those people are the same people who are sending men to fight overseas today.

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