I have a friend who was sent to the Vietnam War before I was. He e-mailed me this missive:
Im not anti-federal government at all. I am just anti-pointless war. If the government wants me to shutup and keep my eyes closed, they can simply end the war, and Ill go back to watching TV and reading Civil War books instead of writing to politicians and editors.
Easy stuff. I honestly think this war is going to end American involvement in the coming months. People are fed up and want these kids home. The politicians want the Army back home, and the people of Iraq want the U.S. out. That leaves just Bush wanting to stay the course, and he is down to about 30 percent credibility. This heart-breaking story of G.I.s captured and others killed will not do the war effort any good. It turned my stomach, as it did for most people.
God, I wish my son was not in the Army now.
That is a good prayer. And it is one of the reasons folks are getting more active: their kids are on the line.
I had a doctor tell me, though, that her two nurses both had sons in Iraq, and they were bashing her for going to Vietnam for vacation (another enemy country? Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam).
We veterans have more power than we let on. We squeezed free education, housing loans and burial benefits out of a tightwad nation. And we Viet vets prodded the national conscience for decades. But we should be asking for the one thing we really want: no more wars!
Why arent more vets screaming for a saner foreign policy? Maybe the images of war are too strong. How to overcome the thought that more firepower is the only thing that will save us? Well, George W. Bush has all the firepower he needs, and theyre still whupping our rearend in Baghdad. Looks like Afghanistan is a goner, too, thanks to our commander in chief.
Veterans, Im talking to you: no matter how much fun we had in the military, home looks great (and we who made it home give thanks for that extra time on earth). And peace looks even better, and its not a far off dream. Lets get off our aging duffs and march to a different drummer: one for peace, justice and equality.
Most of us vets hate war, and we should give our lives, again, to prevent having to send more generations off to battle. Especially off to stupid fiascos that could have been prevented!
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
from the May 30-June 5, 2007, issue