Stopping the War Machine: Military Recruiters Must Be Confronted
By Ron Kovic -Truthdig Posted May 30, 2008
We must use every means of creative, nonviolent resistance to stop
military recruitment across the country.
As a former United States Marine Corps sergeant who was shot and
paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in
Vietnam on Jan. 20, 1968, I am sending my complete support and
admiration to all those now involved in the courageous struggle to stop
military recruitment in Berkeley and across the country.
Not since the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s has there been a
cause more just than the one you are now engaged in. Who knows better
the deep immorality and deception of military recruiters than those of
us who, decades ago, entered those same recruiting offices with our
fathers, believing in our hearts that we were being told the truth --
only to discover later we had been deceived and terribly betrayed?
Many of us paid for that deceit with our lives, years of suffering and
bodies and minds that were never the same again. If only someone had
warned us, if only someone had had the courage to speak out against the
madness that we were being led into, if only someone could have
protected us from the recruiters whose only wish was to make their
quota, send us to boot camp and hide from us the dark secret of the
nightmare which awaited us all.
Over the past five years, I have watched in horror the mirror image of
another Vietnam unfolding in Iraq. So many similarities, so many things
said that remind me of that war 30 years ago which left me paralyzed and
confined to a wheelchair for life.
Refusing to learn from the lessons of Vietnam, our government continues
to pursue a policy of deception, distortion, manipulation and denial,
doing everything it can to hide from the American people their true
intentions and agenda in Iraq. As we pass the fifth anniversary of the
start of this tragic and senseless war, I cannot help but think of the
young men and women who have been wounded, nearly 30,000, flooding
Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and veterans hospitals
all across our country.
Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded, shocked and stunned,
brain-damaged and psychologically stressed, a whole new generation of
severely maimed men and women who were not even born when I came home
wounded to the Bronx Veterans Hospital in New York in 1968.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which afflicted so many of us
after Vietnam, is just now beginning to appear among soldiers recently
returned from the current war. For some the agony and suffering, the
sleepless nights, anxiety attacks and awful bouts of insomnia,
alienation, anger and rage will last for decades -- if not their whole
They will be trapped in a permanent nightmare of that war, of killing
another man, a child, watching a friend die ... fighting against an
enemy that can never be seen, while at any moment someone, a child, a
woman, an old man -- anyone -- might kill them.
These traumas return home with us and we carry them, sometimes hidden,
for agonizing decades. They deeply impact our daily lives, and the lives
closest to us. To kill another human being, to take another life out of
this world with one pull of a trigger, is something that never leaves you.
It is as if a part of you dies with that person. If you choose to keep
on living, there may be a healing, and even hope and happiness again,
but that scar and memory and sorrow will be with you forever. Why did
the recruiters never mention these things? This was never in the slick
pamphlets they gave us.
Some of these veterans are showing up at homeless shelters around our
country, while others have begun to courageously speak out against the
senselessness and insanity of this war and to demand answers from the
leaders who sent them there.
During the 2004 Democratic National Convention, returning soldiers
formed a group called Iraq Veterans Against the War, just as we had
marched in Miami in August of 1972 as Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Still others have refused deployment to Iraq, gone to Canada and begun
resisting this immoral and illegal war.
Like many other Americans, I have seen them on television or at the
local veterans hospitals, but for the most part, they remain hidden like
the flag-draped caskets of our dead returned to Dover Air Force Base in
the dark of night, as this administration continues to pursue a policy
of censorship, tightly controlling the images coming out of that war and
rarely allowing the human cost of its policy to be seen.
Many of us promised ourselves long ago that we would never allow what
happened to us in Vietnam to happen again. We had an obligation, a
responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, as human beings, to raise our
voices in protest.
We could never forget the hospitals, the intensive-care wards, the
wounded all around us fighting for their lives, those long and painful
years after we came home, those lonely nights. There were lives to save
on both sides, young men and women who would be disfigured and maimed,
mothers and fathers who would lose their sons and daughters, wives and
other loved ones who would suffer for decades to come if we did not do
everything we could to stop the momentum of this madness.
Mario Savio once said,
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious,
makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even
passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears
and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've
got to make it stop! And you've got to indicate to the people who run
it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free the machine will
be prevented from working at all."
It is time to stop the war machine. It is time for bold and daring
action on the part of us all. Precious lives are at stake, both American
and Iraqi, and military recruiters must be confronted at every turn, in
every high school, every campus, every recruiting office, on every
street corner, in every town and city across America. In no uncertain
terms we must make it clear to them that by their actions they represent
a threat to our community, to our children and all that we cherish.
We must explain to them that condemning our young men and women to
their death, setting them up to be horribly maimed, and psychologically
damaged in a senseless and immoral war, is wrong and unpatriotic and
will not be tolerated by Berkeley -- or, for that matter, any town or
city in the United States.
The days of deceiving, manipulating and victimizing our young people are
over. We have had enough, and I strongly encourage all of you to use
every means of creative, nonviolent civil disobedience to stop military
recruitment all across our country.
I stand with you in this important and courageous fight, and I am
confident your actions in the days ahead will inspire countless others
across our country to do everything they can to end this deeply immoral
and illegal war.
(Note: This statement represents portions of several essays and writings
I have done over the past five years. -- R.K.)
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Kovic was born in Ladysmith, Wis., and grew up in Massapequa, N.Y. His
autobiography, "Born on the Fourth of July," was adapted as an Academy
Award-winning film directed by Oliver Stone and starring Tom Cruise as
Kovic. Kovic received a Golden Globe for his screenplay adaptation of
Kovic is an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.
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Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Inc.
Fighting for veterans, peace and justice since 1967
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Folks, the supercollider in Cern, Switzerland... and France, is about to be fired up. This will no doubt produce a breakthrough as significant as Einstein's famous E=mc2. What they expect to find is a fundamental constituent of matter called the Higgs boson, which is a theoretical particle or field that has been postulated to explain why matter has mass. Watch the videos to learn more about what and why this is an important thing to do...
Video 1 of 3
Video 2 of 3
Video 3 of 3
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
...Hansen's words were well-chosen: "a planet similar to that on which civilization developed." People will doubtless survive on a non-350 planet, but those who do will be so preoccupied, coping with the endless unintended consequences of an overheated planet, that civilization may not."
Don't be afraid of what you know what may happen as a result of what we are doing to the climate, be afraid of what you don't know.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Unless more funding and effort are put into saving the nation's infrastructure, it will continue to crumble, say experts. An estimated $1.5 trillion over the next five years could be needed to avoid large-scale disaster.
Dave's comment: Of course, it is not just roads and bridges. The electrical transmission and distribution network is tottering, keeping it functional is in doubt, much less accomplishing the conversion from AC to DC that would dramatically lower line loss hence curtailing the need for yet more coal fired plants. But even that is fairly obvious, at least to those paying some attention. There are even worse and less obvious cases of infrastructure rot. We have hollowed out our educational infrastructure - 1/3 of Texas public school students do not graduate and the ones that do are often functionally illiterate. We have hollowed out not just the physical infrastructure to make things but the human skills needed were the plants rebuilt or refurbished. For the last 40 plus years we have more and more been seduced into the notion that the private sector will cure all ills, which is of course pure BS. The faith and hope of a people acting together through their government to secure the benefits of collective effort has been replaced with a fear and loathing of all things associated with government. We have internalized the message that taxes are an evil burden to be shed rather than a way to pool resources for the common good. So, today, if it does not return a short term profit it is simply unlikely to get done.
I watched a version of this greed and short term thinking play out in one of the most respected institutions of this country - Bell Labs; "The Labs", under the bad old AT&T monopoly. Before Judge Green threw AT&T into the briar patch (I will explain that reference, below) The Labs constituted a lavishly funded pure research world. From that environment came a steady stream of Noble laureates and discoveries ranging from radio astronomy to the semi-conductor. The "break-up" ripped the Labs in half, literally. The lunch rooms at the various Labs facilities had yellow tape down the middle. Those employees who were a part of the retained segment of The Labs sat on one side of the tape, those being "spun out" to the part of The Labs to be held by the Regional Bell Operating Companies sat on the other. Men and women who had collaborate for years could no longer even speak to each other. Then, in both segments, the profit imperative descended like volcanic dust, smothering all creativity and curiosity. It was pathetic by the time I arrived on the scene some three years after divestiture. Here were these scientists and engineers of the first water struggling to figure out what the hell to do. Useful and interesting things still struggled to sneak out, but the befuddled senior managers who had no earthly idea of how to run a company that had to compete couldn't do squat with those few meritorious efforts.
Regarding the briar patch; several years before the court declared AT&T an illegal monopoly they hired Al Toffler of "Future Shock" fame to analyze their business. He was proven just as wrong in his recommendations to the AT&T board as was his wildly optimistic and totally wrong little book. However, his recommendations to the board, while a horrible prescription, was at least an accurate prediction. The elements of Judge Green's ruling were a 100% accurate reflection of Toffler's recommendations. Gee, I wonder how that happened????
Friday, May 9, 2008
This has been an issue I've been following and researching for going on 3 years now. Are we about to go over the peak? Has it already happened? Or is this some scam the oil companies conjured up to maximize their profits? Or is it because of the gay mairriage abortionist terrorist illegal alien atheists? In my opinion, it is not very far off when we will see the painful effects of our voracious appetite for the light sweet stuff.
Here's the trailer to the documentary,
A Crude Awakening - The Oil Crash
Wikipedia defines sportsmanship as: "Sportsmanship typically is regarded as a component of morality in sport, composed of three related and perhaps overlapping concepts: fair play, sportsmanship, and character."
This video is the embodiment of that ideal. Have a hankie handy. You'll need it.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
For the past several years as I've been traveling around the country, I've been approaching soldiers in the airports and thanking them for serving for us. On several occasions I have noticed that it felt a little awkward for both of us. There are several reasons, some of which I am even just now learning as I produce this film and talk to more soldiers. But they have always appreciated being thanked, and I have always felt better having expressed my gratitude.
I started to think that it would be nice if civilians had a gesture or sign that they could use to say "thank you" quickly and easily without even having to approach. I did some research and found the sign that we are now using.
Is this limited to the military? Not at all. If you look around you I'm sure that you'll find lots of people who are serving their communities, from local to global. If you appreciate their service, give them a sign. Say "thank you."
-Scott Truitt, FOUNDER, The Gratitude Campaign
Post removed upon request of my son.
Sometimes you assume things are cute where others are either offended and/or embarrassed.
Humor is sometimes lost when it comes to controversial subjects - especially when it didn't even enter into the author's mind that it would have caused trouble.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
These and other people have been meeting here every Friday for over a year. Not once did the TV station in the background cover this regularly attended event.