FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Subject: Facebook Photo

My Dear Friend,  Randall O.,

La belle femme just shared your Facebook Vietnam photo with me. You were merely a kid, an innocent, good hearted, idealistic, loving, kind, and handsome kid, perhaps even in some ways a naive Mississippi country boy sent over to another continent to, in tritely vacuous political parlance, “fight for our Freedom.”

In recent years I’d taken to stopping servicemen and women at the many regional and national/international airports through which I’d  travelled. I’d give them a pat on the shoulder, and state: “Thank you for your service.” And, unlike politicians, I meant every word. Always surprised, their responses were heartwarming. And I meant every word of it. And in silence I would invoke and heap curses on those who wage wars of choice, sending young women and men (as dispensable fodder) in harm’s way to oil the gears of the military industrial complex and grease the Ching Ching bottom lines of corporate America.

Only recently and on two different occasions I asked two colleagues, veterans (colonels), one a Vietnam veteran and the other an Iraq veteran (3 tours) the following: “what did we accomplish in Vietnam/Iraq?” As though they rehearsed their responses, both responded with a terse one-word rejoinder.  “Nothing!”

All this to say the following: to you and to the hundreds of thousands who responded to the call of duty — thank you for stepping up, and thank you for serving honorably. I can’t imagine the hell you experienced in the jungles and deserts of Asia and the Near East. And to the many who, as a result of their service,  are fighting the ugly demons and coping with the excruciatingly anguished memories (of physical/emotional/mental  pain),  I wish them  well as they negotiate the daily challenges.  To wit Paul Hutchinson, a former student from the late seventies, who’d spend late evening hours in our family room – occasionally past midnight. While Paul never allowed the war-induced conspicuous limp to get in his way, it was obvious that he was working through the internal turmoil and found solace in freshman English compositions and a journal I suggested that he keep. And sometime in the 80’s I heard the tragic news; physical pain was overwhelming.   Paul succumbed to its debilitating malignancy, a secret he kept from me; he died in the abyss of loneliness and pain.  And today I also remember Lt. Steve Epperson,  a 1960’s college classmate who was killed in action in Vietnam. And Roy Bass, a jovial, brilliant father of three girls, succumbed some years back to a pernicious lung disease no doubt caused by Agent Orange.

Today  media anchors/ reporters, pernicious politicians, and disgusting political candidates  will no doubt attempt to score points on this sacred day by gratuitously and robotically telling veterans “Thank you for your service, thank you for fighting for our freedoms.”  How dare they justify the “ultimate sacrifice” to the widows and orphans? And, while corrupt politicians retire in the comfort of luxurious lobbying plum jobs, fly private jets to golf courses and fancy resorts, the families of those  departed from our midst will visit graveyards to hold on to and honor the memories of fathers, sons, brothers, and sisters.

Yes, with the exception of the two World Wars, the history of this nation is written with the blood, sweat, sinews, and millions of tears of men and women at home and abroad.

So, Randall, on this 2016 July 4 celebration, I wish to thank you and those who served. There’s no doubt in my mind that what you experienced in Vietnam made you stronger and more attuned to the needs of others at home and abroad. I will close with the following from Richard Eberhart’s pen:

Of Van Wettering I speak, and Averill,/ Names on a list, whose faces I do not recall/But they are gone to early death, who late in school/
Distinguished the belt feed lever from the belt holding claw.

Wishing you and yours the very best,

And, indeed,  thank you for your service.

Sincerely and Salam,

Raouf

More articles by:

Raouf J. Halaby has just recently been awarded a Professor Emeritus status. He taught English and art for 42 years. He is a writer, a sculptor, a photographer, and an avid gardener. He can be reached at rrhalaby@suddenlink.net

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail