Archive for November, 2008

War the American Way

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

     After reading pages 154 through 182 of “War the American Way” I realized there is more to accomplish after a war than just providing assistance for veterans.  Don’t be mistaken, providing for the men and women who served their country is very important.  It is neccessary  has to ensure that the war was not fought in vain.  They must create ceremonies and monuments that guarantee that the lessons learned from the war will be passed down to the generations of the future.  Also, most importantly, the Government must also try and heal the wounds of war by adjusting the emotions and thoughts that accompany the war.  At the end of the reading, it emphasized that ritual and tradition is vital to every nation-state and it is at the peril of the nation if a country disregards those two important factors.  Creating ceremonies and monuments to commemorate wars plays a very significant role in shaping our traditions and our sense of common identity and it should not be taken lightly.

     For the most part it isn’t taking lightly.  The U.S. Government is pretty strict about how monuments come to be and it is a very difficult task filled with debate.  The commission of fine arts and the American Battle Monuments commission make sure that the monument being made reflects what should be remembered.  Some might see it as not telling the whole truth and I agree with that but it is important to respect those who fought and provide the future generations who will see the monument to learn the right lesson and be inspired by it.  The whole issue of the Korean War monument is an example of this because at the time people wanted the monument to make the soldiers look like victims.  You could argue that they were victims but it is not the debate people need to remember, it is the service and the sacrifice of the soldiers.  The Vietnam War memorial was beautifully done and delivered the message that the war represented.  Whether you agreed with the war or not, seeing the walls with all of the names of the fallen soldiers showed the great amount of sacrifice that comes with war no matter how popular or unpopular.  Monuments and ceremonies are very important in setting the legacy of the wars and should be handled with care.

Wages of War 23-27

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

     I was not looking foward to reading wages of war again after reading actual books that were very interesting like “Doing Battle” and “Born on the Fourth of July”.  However, I was captivated by the Agent Orange contraversy.  To me it was a story of lies, betrayl, and hidden agendas.  I first want to start off by saying how ashamed I am of the Veterans Administration.  The VA completely sold out and became a giant beauracracy who wanted to save money instead save soldiers.  But it wasn’t all thier fault, the President is supposed to be the top executive, and all three, Nixon, Carter, and Reagan, all went along with the concept that agent orange wasn’t a problem.  Not because of credible reports saying the chemicals were safe but the idea that the amount of claims would be devastating to the budget.  Another player in this drama that really made me angry was the infamous Dr. Orange, aka Alvin Young.  How can a man claim he is a scientist when he doesn’t use science to prove his arguements.  Dr. Orange was just some hired goon who the VA used numerous times and each time Dr. Orange did he would rise up the Government ladder.  The last thing that left a real bad taste in my mouth was President Reagan.  He campaigned saying he was going to help the veterans of the Vietnam war and then used every measure possible to make sure they would never get Agent Orange compensation.  Near the end he made a beautiful political move, moving the VA up to a cabinet level agency, making the public seem like he cares but in reality making it that much harder for veterans to get what they need from the VA.

Born On The Fourth Of July 2

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

     Ron Kovic addressed many issues he faced during and after the war in the second half of our reading.  He started out describing the parade he went to after he returned home.  It was very sad to him because he felt invisible to the people watching the parade.  He was resentful of the drunken American Legion members who acted like they were experts on the war even though they were never there.  Later in the reading he described the pain he was going through because of his desire to know a woman’s touch.  This filled him with a great deal of mental anguish and pain.  To alleviate his pain he went to a resort in Mexico made for veterans like him.  There he explored the world of prostitution and it had its ups and downs.  I found it sad that the one prostitute laughed at his friend after he undressed.  He and Ron had to deal with a lot of stress and insecurity and it would have pushed any disabled veteran over the edge.  The whole trip to Mexico represented Kovic’s struggle to love and accept love from other people.  After Ron Kovic had enough of Mexico he returned home to the states.  He went to college and things leveled out for him for a short while until he broke his leg and had to return to the dreaded veterans hospital.  He experienced the same mistreatment and flat out abuse that he experience the last stay.  After he was cured he moved with his friend to California.  Kovic joined a veterans against the war group and became a very influential speaker for them. This was very uplifting for him and he loved being in the spotlight and exposing the truth.   He did experience hardship when at a demonstration he was beaten and handcuffed by police officers who called him a traitor.  He gave many speeches but his crowning achievement was at the Republican convention when he got on national T.V. and told his story and message.

     Ron Kovic went into further depth about his experience in Vietnam in the second part of our reading.  The part that stuck out for me was his guilt about accidently killing the corporal from Georgia.  He was brought up on the idea that good guys killed bad guys and what he might have done put him through more mental anguish.  This probably made him question the idea of war even more after the war because of the extreme guilt he felt.  Ron Kovic’s story was one of patriotism and loss.  His unending spirit not to give up was very inspirational and his story was an excellent read.