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Monday, January 8

Cure For Yellow Ribbon Patriotism

(Yellow Ribbon Patriot: One of them that drives around thinking they're supporting our troops and the war effort by having a magnetic sticker on their vehicle with a patriotic slogan.)

by Robert Weitzel

"A man I once knew survived his tour of duty in Vietnam. In the privacy of a rented house trailer he drank alone until he finally had the “courage” to kill himself. I don’t know if he saw combat. He never said. I only assumed he had because when he spoke, what he said had the finality of a trigger pull. To my mind, there is only one way to acquire such certainty.

"I only saw him on the weekends when he made beer runs for my high school buddies and me. We gave him a six-pack and ten minutes of our time for his trouble and then left him as we had found him, sitting at his kitchen table pulling on an unfiltered cigarette and sipping a lukewarm beer like he had all the time in the world.

"I didn’t see him after high school and he was dead by the time I next thought to ask about him. I don’t know that he was a casualty of the war. He might have traveled the same road regardless of Vietnam. But then, he might not have.

"Like most returning Vietnam vets before the release of the POW’s, he was not given a hero’s welcome. Hero was a term we seldom used back then; not like today when we toss it out like confetti on the deserving and the undeserving alike.

"He came back instead to an indifferent, if not hostile, country. He and his fellow vets were slipped into the country singly or in small groups so as to diffuse throughout the population the “cure” they carried in their marrow, rendering it as ineffectual as a homeopathic dilution.

"The “cure” these soldiers brought back from Vietnam was a potion distilled of moments: moments of bravery and sacrifice and sorrow, of bowel-loosening fear, of dehumanizing anger and hostility, of unasked and unanswered questions, moments too damaging to the soul to ever find release in confession.

"It was a potion that if used thoughtfully could inoculate the nation against the disease of the god Mars. But it was ignored along with the soldiers. Vietnam vets, like the man I knew, were left to overdose on the potion in their own private hell."

There's more, well worth your while to read. The rest is at Common Dreams.

(Editor's Note: This is not MY post, in spite of what it says at the bottom; it was sent to me to post by the only woman I've ever really loved. -- PoLT)

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