Joe White's Blog Life, .NET, and cats

Thoughts on war #Life #politics

I have no firsthand experience with war, nor even secondhand. I've only ever known one person who was in active service while I knew them, and that was my wife's brother Bryan, who is now out on a medical discharge. But every now and then, I'll see something that really hits home.

My family went on vacation to Washington, D.C., oh, something like ten or fifteen years ago now. One of the things we stopped to see was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial -- The Wall. It was staggering. You've seen the photos of people kneeling in front of the Wall, or leaving flowers, but until you've seen it live, seen the enormity of it... It still sends chills through me.

The Statler Brothers wrote a song about it, called "More Than a Name on a Wall". I heard them perform it live before it was released on an album. Reading the lyrics isn't the same as hearing it.

The Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the real Wall, came to Cedar Memorial in my hometown of Cedar Rapids. It was there two different times while I was living there (not sure if it's been there again since), and I went both times. Even half-size, it's still breathtaking.

And then there was one evening, just a couple of years ago, when I was watching an episode of M*A*S*H. Up until that time, I had only really seen MAS*H when I was a kid, and I had always thought of it as a comedy. But in this episode, "Death Takes a Holiday", everyone was celebrating Christmas Eve, except for three doctors — BJ, Hawkeye, and Margaret — who were trying to save a wounded soldier who had been brought in. Actually, no. They weren't trying to save him. They knew he was too far gone. But BJ found a photo of the soldier's young son in his pocket. And they were just trying to keep him hanging on long enough that they wouldn't have to send word home to this boy that his father had died on Christmas Eve.

And today's Doonesbury gets added to this list. Alex is giving a class presentation about her father, who lost a leg fighting in Iraq. And she says, "That's the thing about wounded soldiers, because everyone knows someone who has it worse or didn't make it... they all feel lucky."

There are tears in my eyes as I type this. I support our troops. That's why I don't support Bush and his goddamn crusade. He thinks war is a game, a toy. He thinks he can declare war on anybody, for any reason or no reason at all, and get away with it, and to hell with the cost, both dollars and lives. I'm no die-hard pacifist, but war is never the first choice.