FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Story of Pvt. Hargrove

by WILLIAM P. O'CONNOR

When Congress members voted to go to war in 2002, they didn’t think about Pvt. Joseph Hargrove. Instead, they thought about their re-election, their party, and themselves.

Hargrove lives in an antiseptic-six- by-10 room at Gainesville Florida’s Veterans Hospital. A survivor of the unnecessary Iraq War, he’s a forgotten victim of that terrible decision. Rich, oblivious, and partisan legislators must be held accountable for Joe.

The Senate voted for the Iraq War 77 to 23. Only one Republican, Lincoln Chafee, voted his conscience and crossed party lines. In the House, the resolution passed 296 to 133 with six Republicans voting nay. On Election Day, Americans should remember the wise 156 legislators who just said no.

Back from Iraq less than a year, Hargrove looked at the place where his legs used to be and decided there were worse things than dying. So he held a revolver above his right ear and pulled the trigger. The bullet ensured his legless, thoughtless body will sit in a hospital bed hooked up to an assortment of tubes and bottles until the merciful day gravediggers cover it with dirt.

When President Bush, formerly of the Alabama National Guard, and Vice President Dick Cheney, holder of five deferments from the Vietnam War, sent Hargrove and others like him into harms way, the American public were told they were in danger and that the invasion was necessary for national security. The administration pounded the drums of war hard and fast, and said it would be too dangerous to wait for the U.N. inspector’s results. They said the pre-emptive strike was necessary to prevent a “smoking gun.”

Forty years previous to Iraq, another generation of Americans was told a bright shining lie. President John F. Kennedy told that generation that a torch had been passed, and they must bear any burden and pay any price to insure freedom around the globe. What Kennedy didn’t tell, the 58, 000 cold, dead boys shipped home in body bags was that if free elections were held in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh would have won overwhelmingly.

After Kennedy’s assassination, his successor Lyndon Johnson never told the more than 150,000 U.S. casualties that his administration made up the “attack” on the U.S.S. Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin, which expanded the war. Johnson later joked, “For all I know they could have been shooting at a bunch of seals out there.”

Determined not to be the first American administration to lose a war, the Executive Branch beat its breasts, twisted arms and waved the flag until Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.  Johnson laughed and later called the resolution “grandma’s nightgown.” because he said, “It covers everything.”

Like Vietnam, the Iraq War remains a national disgrace. The people whose homes were destroyed, whose lives were disrupted, whose children were murdered, did not have ties to Al Qaeda. They were not responsible for blowing up the World Trade Center, and we’ve long given up looking for the weapons then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they had.

America has succeeded in getting more than 4,000 of its brave young men and women killed, and more than 70,000 wounded at a cost of, according to the Washington Post, more than $3 trillion. The disastrous decision destroyed Iraq’s hospitals, roads and bridges, displaced more than two million people and, by most estimates, killed close to a million more.

In the United States of “Amnesia,” where “shock and awe” is now a forgotten refrain, emphasis has shifted to health care and deficits. The previous administration insists the world’s a safer place without Saddam Hussein, and Democrats that voted to rush to war show neither remorse nor regret.

One doubts Sarah Hargrove, Joe’s mother, agrees with party leaders George Bush and Hillary Clinton that the vote for war was the right thing to do. Every other day, the 85-year-old Mrs. Hargrove takes the two-and-a-half-hour bus ride from Jacksonville to Gainesville’s Veterans Hospital to visit the legless-lifeless-lump that used to be her son.

Next time old, rich, men decide to spill the blood of our nation’s treasure, voters should remember that only two children of the 435 Congressmen and 100 Senators were put in harms way in Iraq. In the future when the sideline patriots vote for war, let their children lead the charge.

In the meantime, the electorate should hold accountable the members of both parties who voted for that abomination. Remove them from office. Voters owe that much to Joe and others like him.

William P. O’Connor enlisted in the Air Force on August 1, 1966. He served in the Vietnam War from August 1969 to August 1970 in Nakhon Phanom in Northern Thailand. William was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1948. He is a former pub owner and retired NYC fire fighter. He may be contacted at williampoconnor@hotmail.com.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Woman’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail