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do let’s find the cost of freedom

May 25, 2015

I hadn’t planned on posting today.  There’s netting to put up in the garden and weeds growing like . . . well, weeds in spots we’d prefer they didn’t.  Jude and I are going out to dinner tonight, at which we’ll toast my friends Eddie Weekfall, who died in combat, and Jim Mathis, who died from his struggles when he got back to the world.

But as I scrolled through Facebook, a post just absolutely galled me.  I have a lot of right-wing family and acquaintances on FB, so I knew the flag waving would be extra heavy today.  But someone put up a photo of Old Glory superimposed over a military cemetery, with the caption “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it.  It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.”

I FUCKING HATE SHIT LIKE THIS.  It’s war porn.  It simplifies extremely complex political and cultural issues, then romanticizes death as those conflicting processes play out the worst possible scenario.  I watched many men die in Vietnam.  Some screamed, some cussed, some cried.  None of them said anything as inane as “freedom isn’t free”.  You can’t die nobly for an ignoble cause.

It’s especially galling to see the disconnect so many Americans have about who will take that last breath.  Today the U.S. celebrates its first Memorial Day since boots left the ground in Afghanistan, even as the war drums swell to put boots back on the ground in Iraq.  You remember that one, don’t you?  Political support for it was solid at first, but by the end the Pentagon had to call up the reserves, require multiple deployments, lower recruitment standards and offer signing bonuses to get enough feet for those boots.

A recent poll reported that 57% of 18 to 25-year-old Americans polled supported sending ground troops back to Iraq.  Oh, how I wish they had also been asked “and are you willing to be one of those troops?”

Jim’s lovely widow Dora sent me a video today of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s compelling Find the Cost of Freedom.  I would love it if the U.S. did just that: measure the total cost of war.  Not just the upfront costs of munitions, logistics, recruitment, training and such, but also the enormous toll of physical rehab, PTSD disability and psychological damage to the families who lost members.

If that was done, maybe this (skip to 1:41) would be the new national anthem.

  1. goatbarnwitch permalink
    May 25, 2015 2:19 pm

    Well said! I find it impossible to impress on the right wing patriots that their rhetoric is deeply flawed

  2. Anonymous permalink
    May 25, 2015 4:50 pm

    Well said indeed. War is the growth industry of the US, always has been since the end of WW2, but on a grand scale starting on 9/11/01. Judging by the lack of any meaningful success since the Injon landings in 1950, some thoughtful analysts suggest that the goal of American foreign policy isn’t military victory over a foe, rather the goal is war itself. What else would keep those procurements, contracts, and job opportunities flowing and growing for Lockheed-Martin, Blackwater–(or whatever they call themselves these days)– KB&R, Raytheon, Boeing…etc. and who have operations spread out through every congressional district in the country. When war is the goal under those circumstances it means perpetual war.
    Happy U.S. Memorial Day for today and the future.

  3. May 25, 2015 9:49 pm

    Allen, your ethics and sense of things have always impressed and affected me positively.
    My big brother… he’s been there, done that… and pretty much has it straight about how it goes down.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    May 25, 2015 10:30 pm

    Allen – agree with you sentiments entirely. I am fortunate not to have fought in a war and not to have to watch your fellow soldiers die. But I was born in England in 1941 and saw houses bombed around us and spent my first few years in air raid shelters. I saw English towns reduced to rubble and, at the age of ten got to drive through the remains of Germany. It was a shocking experience. And yet the old men are still sending the young men off to die

    When will it end. Thanks for the link – I watched the Woodstock tapes right through Janis Joplin- what a fabulous blues singer.
    Thanks, Allen

    • May 26, 2015 11:23 am

      Everyone, thank you profusely for your support. It was quite heartening to wake up to it. I think I’ll be posting more about it. That one obnoxious photo blew open a vein of rage I’ve been sitting on far too long.

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