Thursday, September 29, 2016

What we have done

Photo by Ellen Davidson
GUEST: Doug Rawlings, founding member of Veterans For Peace, poet, and critic of the contemporary effort by our government to whitewash the Vietnam story, talks about his newest project, Letters to the Wall.

Doug and I had a lot in common. We were both drafted during the Vietnam War, and we both went in a little older then most men around us. 

Doug got sent to the war, and I was assigned to a reconnaissance unit near the DMZ in Korea. I have never felt much guilt about my life being saved in this way. I had gone in doubting the war, and determined not to waste my life. I had no epiphany; Vietnam was just about what I thought it was at the time. 

That's not to say I can't be moved by the suffering of all those vets who came back broken limbed and broken hearted. Sometimes it makes me angry that the people who ordered all this carnage never had to pay a price. They should have been jailed for life.

Seeing the waste of war again is difficult for all vets, and the invasion of Iraq was particularly troubling. Were the deceptions even more blatant this time? Were the young men, and young women more vulnerable to the lies of empire than 45 years ago? Had we the people not learned to distrust our government yet, after all these years of betrayal?

But there is more, the profound sadness that human beings are capable of murder. I never killed anyone, so I don't feel this in my being. Those who have fought in wars go beyond just knowing intellectually that they are capable of killing. They carry that burden in their hearts for the rest of their lives. 

I am going to use this blog to publish some letters to the wall. Let yourself be moved by them. Let us cry together for what our country has become, and for what we have done.

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