Government Life in General National Politics

In Memorium, 2007

Arlington West, May 27, 2007arlington-west-close-up.jpg

In the year since last Memorial day, Americans have buried 980 more of their sons and daughters killed serving in Iraq.
The figure is higher than last year’s count and is expected to rise at a still more rapid rate in coming months.

Another 94 American service people were killed in Afghanistan.

As of yesterday, the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion stands at 3454.

Three-fourth of those killed were under 30 years old.

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The photos, taken Sunday afternoon, are of Arlington West, the temporary memorial for American troops killed in Iraq that is erected every Sunday in the sand just north of the pier at Santa Monica Beach, by the Los Angeles chapter of Veterans for Peace.

14 Comments

  • Celeste, putting up the photo above is a political statement, not a memorial day observation. The fact that they do it each Sunday says so.

    However, today (as I write this) is a day set aside to remember all of the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coastguardsmen who have given thier lives in that “last full measure of devotion.” Because of them, all of us are free to make “protests” like the one above. My choice for this day is a pictorial representation of Monuments To Heroes. As the son, grandson and great-grandson of career soldiers, I know full well the sacrifices made by both those that died as well as those that lived. God bless them all.

  • G.M. beat me to it, and he said it just right and nicer than I could or would have.

    The Left rarely cares about our soldiers except when they can use those who were killed to advance an agenda that almost all, if not all, of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice would accept.

  • GM, I honor and respect your choice to honor and respect the fallen in the way that you have. Personally, and this is just personal, I’ve always treated Veterans Day as the time to honor them all—even though I understand that day is really set aside for the living, not the dead.

    Indeed, bless every single one of them who have sacrificed for the rest of us.

    HOWEVER, you’re absolutely right, the photo I chose does double duty. Although my headline is a general “In Memorium” that honors all of the fallen, the photo is both a memorial and a political statement. (It’s also the one original photo I had an easy opportunity to take yesterday, rather than yanking one off the web, as I’d have done otherwise.)

    I’m addition to my gratitude to them, I’m enraged and grief-stricken beyond adequate measure or expression at the loss of the sons and daughters now dead—or terribly wounded—because they were sent to serve in this calamitous and needless war by arrogant men, willfully ignorant of history. For me—and I’m speaking simply for myself—to not in some way say so, would be disingenuous and a dishonor to the sacrifice those men and women in uniform have made.

    And, Woody…..Bullshit.

  • Celeste, an argument to back up your words has more significance than an expletive.

    Soldiers die to serve our nation and flag, yet how many people from the Left refuse to stand when when the National Anthem is played or take part in the the Pledge of Allegiance? What number of people who protested the Vietnam conflcit actually treated the returning vets with honor and still acknowledge their sacrifices by respectfully visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial? How many from the left have jeered soldiers and those who support them? How many from the Left are always fighting to cut military spending?

    How many soldiers, living and dead, agree with the Left’s attitude that America is always wrong or to be blamed first? How many soldiers would accept that condemnation of our military and nation represent patriotism, as claimed by those who condemn America? How many in the military vs. the Left would belittle people who show support for our forces with yellow ribbons and even magnetic decals? How many soldiers and their families would have chosen the picture that you did to honor those fallen?

    Any one who is observant and honest will know that the Left cares little for the miltary except during times of protest against American foreign intervention, and then that caring is limited to a scorecard of deaths to win converts rather than express sympathy.

    You might feel differently, but examples of your support and appreciation for the men and women in our armed forces would be better than avoiding the question by cursing.

  • Woody, to the extent it is reasonable for Celeste to believe you included her in, a “Left [that] rarely cares about our soldiers except when they can use those who were killed to advance an agenda…,” her response to you was equally ‘reasonable.’ You paint the Left with an awfully broad brush, Woody. I’ve not seen evidence that Celeste paints the Right the same way. She offered a rationale to G.M., which he was gracious enough to accept. As you noted, he has a tendency to express himself somewhat more artfully than you do. Which, perhaps, is why he got the explanation, he did. While it matters what you say, it can often matter a great deal more, how you say it. To my way of thinking, Celeste owes you neither an explanation, nor an apology. Although, it wouldn’t surprise me if, ultimately, she offered you both. Celeste does not equal The Left, Woody, anymore than you equal The Right.

  • Listener, thanks for coming to my defense.

    Woody, I don’t mean to be so harsh to you personally, but that kind of generalization makes me nuts. It’s so off-the-charts untrue about me and the people I know, that it feels exhausting to refute it—particularly point by point. But, out of respect to you, here are some random thoughts:

    I was young during the Vietnam war, which means I had friends and classmates killed for something that I—and most like me—believed was a terrible, terrible, ungodly mistake, and the reality of those daily, monthly, yearly deaths was….shattering. Of course people like me go to Vietnam War Memorial, but we don’t linger at the three soldiers statue. We go to The Wall—where those 58,256 names are inscribed. It is a mind-altering experience. I don’t know another way to say it.

    On the other hand, there are other kinds of wars. Necessary wars. My uncle was career Air Force and was captured at Corregidor, and thus was a Japanese prisoner of war. He was a wonderful, cranky, funny, smart man but he was physically never the same after that. For the last years of his life, I called him every year on Veteran’s day to thank him for his courage and sacrifice. I really wish I’d thought to do it sooner.

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    As I’ve mentioned multiple times here before, I have a 21 year old son—in other words, a kid who is the light of my life who is right smack in the main age range of kids fighting in Iraq. I have friends with kids and/or nieces and nephews in Iraq. I look at the faces of most service people and all I can think is: that could be my kid. So to have someone say that I—and people like me—view the deaths of these young people as something on a scorecard—it makes me feel a little… hysterical.

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    About the photo, the Arlington West memorial is put up by a veteran’s organization. And, every single weekend, different parents and family of fallen Iraq soldiers come by and leave items—writing and mementos— on the crosses. (The close-up photo I posted is an example of writing et al left by families.)
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    I hope that explains my reaction to some degree.

  • LotS, unlike reactionaries, I don’t demand apologies for people saying what they feel or what they say. I simply note whether or not their responses address an issue or try to avoid one. I also have quit offering apologies out of courtesy, because people on the other side demand them too quickly and use apologies as a weapon to curtail discussion rather than accept them in good faith.

    Celeste, I don’t say that you act in lockstep with the Left, but some of your ideas are similar to those expressed by that group in general. I really don’t know if you actually can see the Left from the same perspective as those of us from the right. You may perceive your friends as being patriotic, while we would rationally see the opposite. Even you once said that you will not say the Pledge of Allegiance, and that sends a negative message about an attitude towards the country and our flag.

    In brief posts and comments, there is a certain limitation and necessity to make general statements without others accepting them personally.

  • It’s all discussion, Woody. And I welcome it. (Even if I get emotional at times.)

    Also, it’s not that I won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance. Sometimes I do. But I’m never entirely comfortable pledging allegiance to a symbol. Hold over from the Vietnam war days. I’d much rather than we all pledged allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Seems like a better and more relevant idea.

  • This weekend I had dinner with my grandfather and great uncle who fought in WWII and Korea, respectively. At some point my great uncle began telling old stories about dissatisfaction with the military in Korea. In one, the brass rounded up a number of the more educated soldiers and offered them commissioned posts, the possibility of real money and rank. All twenty turned the military down. The stunned brass forced them to write an explaination of why they didn’t want to join. My great uncle wrote, “Don’t want to spend my life looking for dust under the bed.” They made him change his answer.

    Another thing worth noting about this “greatest generation” is their proximity to the dangers of fascism. Both elders remember vividly the reality of facism and acutely feel the hot breath of fascism from today’s power-hungry administration.

    For them, the greatest celebration of our military would be to use it sparingly and bring our soldiers home.

    Soldiers are people with a range of views and perspectives. But from the most gung-ho retired warrior to the anti-establishment peacenik vet, all share the value of democratic deliberation and free speech. We honor their sacrifice most by honestly debating the best course for our nation, especially in times of war.

  • I would really like to know some time why it is a political statement to show caskets or funerals but perfectly OK and proper for Dubya to use Memorial to whip up support for his little floric in the Fertile Crescent?

  • Which team did you support on this play at Dodger Stadium?

    (LINK) Outfielder recalls protecting country’s honor from protesters

    LOS ANGELES — It was 1976, a fun year for America. It was the country’s bicentennial, the war in Vietnam had ended a year earlier and everyone really wanted to put all the problems from the 1960s, Watergate and Vietnam behind them and just enjoy the country’s yearlong 200th birthday party.

    On April 25, the Chicago Cubs were visiting Dodger Stadium for a three-game series. Playing center field for the Cubs was Rick Monday, the first player taken in the amateur draft that was created 11 years earlier. Monday was born and raised in Santa Monica, Calif., so playing in front of his friends and family was always special to him. On this day, fate would hand Monday a moment that people still talk about with reverence 30 years later. Monday recounts the moment in his own words.

    “In between the top and bottom of the fourth inning, I was just getting loose in the outfield, throwing the ball back and forth. Jose Cardenal was in left field and I was in center. I don’t know if I heard the crowd first or saw the guys first, but two people ran on the field. After a number of years of playing, when someone comes on the field, you don’t know what’s going to happen. Is it because they had too much to drink? Is it because they’re trying to win a bet? Is it because they don’t like you or do they have a message that they’re trying to present?

    “When these two guys ran on the field, something wasn’t right. And it wasn’t right from the standpoint that one of them had something cradled under his arm. It turned out to be an American flag. They came from the left-field corner, went past Cardenal to shallow left-center field.

    “That’s when I saw the flag. They unfurled it as if it was a picnic blanket. They knelt beside it, not to pay homage but to harm it as one of the guys was pulling out of his pocket somewhere a big can of lighter fluid. He began to douse it.

    “What they were doing was wrong then, in 1976. In my mind, it’s wrong now, in 2006. It’s the way I was raised. My thoughts were reinforced with my six years in the Marine Corp Reserves. It was also reinforced by a lot of friends who lost their lives protecting the rights and freedoms that flag represented.

    “So I started to run after them. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what was running through my mind except I was mad, I was angry and it was wrong for a lot of reasons.

    “Then the wind blew the first match out. There was hardly ever any wind at Dodger Stadium. The second match was lit, just as I got there. I did think that if I could bowl them over, they can’t do what they’re trying to do.

    “I saw them go and put the match down to the flag. It’s soaked in lighter fluid at this time. Well, they can’t light it if they don’t have it. So I just scooped it up.

    “My first thought was, ‘Is this on fire?’ Well, fortunately, it was not. I continue to run. One of the men threw the can of lighter fluid at me. We found out he was not a prospect. He did not have a good arm. Thank goodness.

    “Tommy Lasorda was in his last year as third-base coach before he took over for Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston. Tommy ran past me and called these guys every name in the longshoreman’s encyclopedia.”

    “A lot of people don’t know this, but he beat me to the flag,” recalls Lasorda. “I saw Rick start running over from center field to left. I didn’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw him start, I took off and I ran out there, and of course, by that time, Rick had picked up the flag and continued running. When I got there, I see these two guys and I told them, ‘Why don’t one of you guys take a swing at me?’ because there were 50-something thousand people in the ballpark and I only wanted them to swing at me, so I could defend myself and do a job on them.”

    Monday continued, “Doug Rau, a left-handed pitcher for the Dodgers at the time, came out of the dugout and I handed the flag to him. The two guys were led off the field through the Dodger bullpen.

    “After the guys left, there was a buzz in the stands, people being aghast with what had taken place. Without being prompted, and I don’t know where it started, but people began to sing ‘God Bless America.’ When I reflect back upon it now, I still get goose bumps.” …

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