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

April 24, 2018
Carl Boggs
Russia and the War Party
William A. Cohn
Carnage Unleashed: the Pentagon and the AUMF
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
The Racist Culture of Canadian Hockey
María Julia Bertomeu
On Angers, Disgusts and Nauseas
Nick Pemberton
How To Buy A Seat In Congress 101
Ron Jacobs
Resisting the Military-Now More Than Ever
Paul Bentley
A Velvet Revolution Turns Bloody? Ten Dead in Toronto
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Left, Syria and Fake News
Manuel E. Yepe
The Confirmation of Democracy in Cuba
Peter Montgomery
Christian Nationalism: Good for Politicians, Bad for America and the World
Ted Rall
Bad Drones
Jill Richardson
The Latest Attack on Food Stamps
Andrew Stewart
What Kind of Unionism is This?
Ellen Brown
Fox in the Hen House: Why Interest Rates Are Rising
April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail