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how to honour this particular veteran

November 11, 2011

Yesterday was the U.S. Marine Corps birthday.  In 1775, the Corps supposedly was

spawned at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia when young men — enticed by free cold

beer — enlisted in the Revolutionary War.  Marines honour their roots to this day

by seeking out cold beer as often as possible.

 

Today, as you know, is Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in America.

In the states, vets can get all this free: a Krispy Kreme doughnut, a Denny’s Grand

Slam breakfast, ten chicken wings at Hooters, and a meal at Applebee’s, Chili’s,

Golden Corral and T.G.I. Friday’s — with a small Slurpee from 7-Eleven to wash it

all down.  Even the Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse (based in Tampa,

Florida) is springin’ for a Bloomin’ Onion.

 

I’m certain that homeless vets will rejoice in this early Thanksgiving, if they find

out about it.

 

Up here the freebies aren’t as abundant.  Vets can get a free doughnut at Tim

Horton’s and a free car wash at Sudsy’s Super Wash in Alberta.  I assume I don’t

qualify.  Small matter.  It would cost me three ferry fees to get to Sudsy’s, and it’s

senseless to wash a car here in the rainy season, anyway.


But there are three things you could do to honour this particular veteran.  Please:

                (1)  hoist one with me to Eddie Weekfall, a Marine buddy who was

                        killed in Vietnam.  I posted about him on Memorial Day.  I pro-

                        mised his spirit I’d never forget him.

 

               (2)  don’t call me a “hero” or “warrior”.  It sickens me how the media

                        devalues those words by applying it to all service personnel.  Not

                        all of us displayed exceptional courage or saved lives.  Most of us

                        weren’t in the infantry.  Mahatma Ghandi was a hero.  I wasn’t.

           

               (3)  ask your politicians:  Why  does warfare falls disproportionately

                        on the lower classes and people of color?  Why  are veterans treated

                        so shabbily?  Will the next war truly be waged in our nation’s best

                        interests?  Why are the real reasons we go to war obscured by

                        patriotic rhetoric?

 

Did Eddie die in vain?  It pains me to say yes, but I can see it no other way.  

 

During this two-day span, I spend a lot of time reflecting on what my six months

in Vietnam meant to me.  It was the most intense period of my life and profoundly

affected all that has followed.  Much of it is deeply private, some of it I’d like to share

but it’s too painful.  But the final scene from the film “Hair” features as telling  a

metaphor for that war and my feelings about it as I’d ever seen.  Berger the hippie,

played by Treat Williams, fills in for his Army friend Claude (John Savage) so

Claude can slip off-base to see Sheila (Beverly D’Angelo) and other friends before

his unit ships out.

 

While Claude is with the others, his unit starts loading into massive planes.  The

wholly unprepared Berger marches into a pitch black metal cavern with the

troops.  The film ends with the group gathered by Berger’s grave in an immense

military cemetery.  I get chills every time I watch it.  See what you think of it.


And let the sunshine in.

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11 Comments
  1. November 11, 2011 12:37 pm

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. Eddie will be toasted tonight, as will you!!!

    • November 14, 2011 10:10 am

      Thanks, Tiff. I appreciate it, and I’d bet that Eddie would have, too.

  2. Gordon Raley permalink
    November 11, 2011 1:16 pm

    Went back and read the May 30th blog, since that was before I learned about anchors being struck and such. I’ll lift two for Eddie and try to remember to do so from this Veteran’s Day onward…and hopefully remember to ask myself and others those troubling questions about war and what we fight for the other days of the year. To Eddie.

    • November 14, 2011 10:14 am

      To Eddie, Gordie. I know you’ll keep asking the right questions. I still think about the October ’69 Moratorium in New Orleans that we both attended but unfortunately didn’t cross paths. But more importantly we were there asking these same questions.

  3. Beth Reed permalink
    November 11, 2011 7:33 pm

    I have no beer but I will lift my glass of diet coke and give Thanks for your service, your friend Eddie as well as to my father and two brothers and my son in law who is stationed at Camp Lejune now.
    My heart is full and will always be so when it comes to our service men and women past and present.

    • November 14, 2011 10:16 am

      Thank you, Beth. Diet Coke counts. Were any of your family members in war zones?

  4. November 12, 2011 10:47 am

    Hey, Allen,

    I just read your old post about Eddie and this current one regarding the Remembrance Day holiday and corresponding American holiday. I totally agree with you, and the commenter Kris who said no wars since WW 2 were necessary or noble. I do think our soldiers are dying in vain, and causing death and escalating hatred in the world.

    I flipped over the old Bush’s war in the Gulf, nearly had a breakdown over Iraq with W at the helm. Based on a couple of Arabs chatting about the price of coffee (I remember hearing audio tapes in Arabic that were supposed to prove something sinister)–the so-called “intelligence” was so obviously trumped up. The waste of money and life. . . it was truly criminal. As you said, it’s the poor that die as soldiers.

    Who profits? People who manufacture weapons, political leaders who win because of mobilizing people with fear of others not necessarily based on facts, And now Harper, whose children will never be in harm’s way, is working so hard to make Canada a more military society, while neglecting more important things. Canada has brave soldiers, but if Harper wants to puff himself up with victories like Libya, he should remember, Canada has a small population and not exactly cut out to be the bully/policeman of the world as the US had been doing. We will never find out how much money Libya cost us, for example, all those bombs and military folks’ hours clocked ended up on our tab. I, for one, don’t want to pay for it. Federal Conservatives elected because of fiscal responsibility?! Wrong.

    Realistically, 9-11 could have been avenged and future attacks prevented through special forces kind of people sneaking around the world and sniping at people who sought to do harm to the west. Cheaper and very few lives lost.

    When I sing O Canada and I reach the words, we stand on guard for thee, what that means to me is that we must stand on guard against politicians who love war for the sake of it, so that our future can be more peaceful than our past.

    We are being brainwashed to tolerate more and more bullying and warmongering in the world. Remembrance Day has elements of that, along with the good aspects of the occasion, and everyone can hate me for saying so. I have friends and relatives who served in WW 2 and I honour them. Hitler actually was a threat to the world, and they did not suffer and die in vain. What do our old veterans think of these trumped-up wars, though?

    On the news, I see children mouthing these war-friendly phrases and I hate it. For example, “Saddam needed to be taken out because he was a bad man,” etc. Folks rejoicing in the street over the death of Bin Laden–breaks my heart. Surely an appropriate response could be a sad kind of relief over Bin Laden’s death, Saddam was nobody’s business on this side of the ocean. Now, Ghadafi, everybody was rejoicing and his body was treated like a piece of meat. Human life is still sacred. I have a prayer for all these “bad people”, and I think teaching our children to express glee at these violent acts is a huge disservice to them and to the future.

    Sorry for ranting. If you want to edit the hell out of this, please do. I respect the challenge and pain you experienced in the military. I’m glad you are asking the hard questions, and I’ll be doing the same thing.

    Brainie (Julie)

    • November 14, 2011 10:29 am

      Julie, I wouldn’t edit a word out of such heartfelt comments. I believe that the violent deaths of violent people like Hussein, bin Laden and Ghadafi are mixed blessings, and lower our moral high ground. The night the Iraq invasion started, I was watching the bombing of Baghdad and visualizing the enormous destruction on the ground. Then I had the stray thought that some 10-year-old kid was also watching the “shock and awe” and saying “cool!”.

      • Anonymous permalink
        November 16, 2011 6:58 am

        Hi, Allen,

        Exactly. It’s sometimes hard to speak of these things because then we are accused of not supporting the troops. My dad and uncle were in WW2, and I also have a close friend in his 80’s who became agorophobic after his involvement in WW2, so that brings it all up close. War is ugly, and if it’s necessary to defend ourselves directly, okay. But glee at killing? No.

        I hope you are faring well as the winter begins.

        Julie

      • November 17, 2011 9:54 am

        One of the most troubling aspects of the aftermath of war is that PTSD can simmer for years before surfacing, so the accompanying drug abuse, depression, suicide and such doesn’t get connected to its ugly legacy. Jude and I are ready for winter. We’ve had several frosts and a dusting of snow so far. I know that’s laughable to the rest of Canada, but it is what it is. Two sure signs of winter on our farm: some neighbours were over last night for the Canucks game, and our favourite ducks — the buffleheads Biff, Muffy and Yolanda — just got back. How goes your preparations?

  5. Anonymous permalink
    November 18, 2011 8:28 pm

    Hi, Allen,
    Not sure if you’re talking to me or to everybody, but it would be good to hear how people prepare for winter. We finished up some of our outdoor projects and other stuff just got left undone. Kind of nice that snow covers up the reminder that we ran out of time or energy.

    It’s white here, looks beautiful, feels chilly. The closet holds all manner of warm, warmer, and warmest clothing and boots, so no doubt we shall live through another winter! As a rule, I like winter quite a bit so I’m always hoping people around me don’t complain too much. They just don’t get out enough!

    Julie

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