Thursday, December 15, 2011

Welcome Home

Welcome Home Iraq Vets! Finally, the war in Iraq is over. No big “Mission Accomplished” banner (thankfully). But at least a heart-felt thanks and “Welcome Home” from the President.

What a waste of resources. Over 4000 Us troops killed, over 30,000 wounded. Estimated over 800 BILLION dollars. And that does not count the cost to the Iraqi people. All for naught.

It is 40 years since I served in Viet Nam. The bitter/sweet memories are still with me.
In addition of memories there is anger, frustration, hopelessness, and envy. I had hoped that the country had learned its lesson of Viet Nam, but did not.

Lets look at my feelings...

Memories: Most of us block out or bad memories of the time in “Nam”. We talk about the good times, the friends (brothers) we met in country. The bad memories are relegated to a distance memory. When we returned to “The World” we were not allowed to remember. We were to just get on with our life. Those that could not cope were outcasts.

Anger: I am still angry the way we were treated when we came home. When I was discharged at Ft Dix, I had to make a bee line to the airport, and then home because I was in uniform. No side trips. I had a friend that was beaten up by his “friends” because he stopped by in a local watering hole wearing his uniform. We were greeted with shouts of “baby killer”.

Frustration: I am frustrated because it was all for naught. Over 58.000 US service women and me were killed – for what? Viet Nam fell to the communists, anyway. And there was not any great wave of communism threatening to region and the world. Like with Viet Nam, the politicians sold the country a bill of goods to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Hopelessness: How soon we forget the lessons of war. The war machine (“Military-Industrial Complex”) is alive a well. As long as politicians and corporations are allowed to make such exorbitant profits from war, our youth and society will continue to pay the price in dollars, limbs, and bodies. While the war in Iraq is over, and Afghanistan is (hopefully) winding down, the war hawks are rattling sabers about Iran, Somalia, Yemen, and other countries. Will it ever end?

Envy: This is the one that is roughest for me to face. I envy the Iraq and Afghanistan vets. They are getting a proper “Welcome Home”. A couple years after I was home from Viet Nam, I was at a party with a cousin in Denmark. I casually mentioned that I wad been in “Nam. They did not believe it, since I “seemed to be normal”. I had no missing limbs and did not seem to suffer a mental illness. That was also the attitude in the US – Nam vets were messed up in some way or the other.. So I suppressed it. Stopped talking about Viet Nam. Did not tell people that I had server there. There were no parades and celebrations when we came home.

So, to the Iraq vets – Welcome Home. Sorry that I cannot give you a rousing cheer. I am just still too bitter.

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