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Loss and helplessness
March 10, 2006 10:09 AM   Subscribe

I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator’s wings.
posted by EarBucket (51 comments total)

 
Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us

hay viet nam
posted by rxrfrx at 10:21 AM on March 10, 2006


I bet this guy didn't earn his three purple hearts either. He probably had "other priorities".

He's certainly not half the public servant that military-avoiders Dick Cheney, Denny Hastert, Tom Delay, Rick Santorum, and John Ashcroft are.
posted by orthogonality at 10:22 AM on March 10, 2006


This is perhaps the most eloquent description I've read of the bizarre, I've-stumbled-into-an-alternate-universe feeling I get when I read the news these days. The outrage, too, of seeing everything my country stands for perverted. Bravo, Mr. DuRocher.
posted by EarBucket at 10:22 AM on March 10, 2006


Also, I like this piece illustrating similarities between Iraq and Vietnam.
posted by rxrfrx at 10:24 AM on March 10, 2006


Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us.

Someone's never heard of the Spanish-American war, Korea, the aforementioned Vietnam or even Gulf War One.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:25 AM on March 10, 2006


Mayor Curley, how was the Gulf War pre-emptive?
posted by rxrfrx at 10:27 AM on March 10, 2006


I kept looking at ortho's list, trying to think of ways to make "avoider" more like "aviator". Maybe "avioider"? "Avoider"? Nah. Too clever. "Avoider" is probably as clever as will work.

.... nice [almost-]pun, though, btw.

posted by lodurr at 10:27 AM on March 10, 2006


Mayor: What about the Mexican American War, the war agains the Phillipine insurgency, many of the various Indian Wars, or that greatest of our unprovoked wars of aggression, the Civil War. (First 3 serious, fourth...not so much...)
posted by lodurr at 10:31 AM on March 10, 2006


hay viet nam

Y'all have to remember something. There were technically three Vietnam wars under four different presidents. Most of the administrations were entirely naive or ignorant about what was going on there and did not take it very seriously. The first two wars you could describe as stealth wars.

Plus it wan't even our war. The war started out as a French colonial war, then morphed into civil war that policy makers simply did not understand in any other regard other than through vague Cold War paranoia.

Frankly it snuck (is that a word?) up on the various administrations who had no real idea what or where Vietnam was. They were manipulated by by a terrible complicated combination of corporate interests, pride, and policy hubris. It was a slow burn war.

The outright bold faced blitzkrieg like invasion of Iraq would be an anathema to honorable warriors like DuRocher.

You will see more of this sort of thing. God bless 'em.
posted by tkchrist at 10:36 AM on March 10, 2006


Was not the Korea war and the first Iraq war, UN sanctioned?

So it may have been a war of aggression but a UN Backed one, correct?

Vietnam However was just messed up.
posted by Elim at 10:40 AM on March 10, 2006


What about the Mexican American War, the war agains the Phillipine insurgency, many of the various Indian Wars, or that greatest of our unprovoked wars of aggression, the Civil War.

I'm pretty sure Admiral DuRocher was not alive then.
posted by tkchrist at 10:42 AM on March 10, 2006


None of the other wars mentioned were like this: just swoop in and bomb the hell out of some country on some trumped-up pretext, with gleeful disregard for international custom.

Qualitative difference.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:46 AM on March 10, 2006


Good for him.
I needed this bit of inspiration, thanks for the post.

I served in the early '70's, not as an officer, but I was proud of what I did. I still have my insignia. They'll be in the mail tomorrow.... anyone else?
posted by HuronBob at 10:51 AM on March 10, 2006


Clearly, Mr. DuRocher hates America.
posted by spock at 10:54 AM on March 10, 2006


I served in the early '70's, not as an officer, but I was proud of what I did. I still have my insignia. They'll be in the mail tomorrow.... anyone else?

I think you should keep what you earned HuronBob and not give it away in a meaningful, but otherwise completely useless protest.

What you need to do is to convince active duty soldiers to start doing this.
posted by three blind mice at 10:57 AM on March 10, 2006


I served in the early '70's, not as an officer, but I was proud of what I did. I still have my insignia. They'll be in the mail tomorrow.... anyone else?

If people are going to send in their medals and what not. It should be done through some third party, so it gets counted and might get some exposure. The government sure won't talk about how many medals have been sent in.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:57 AM on March 10, 2006


Do you think W will put on the bars and wings and run around the oval office with his arms outspread making airplane noises?
posted by psmealey at 10:58 AM on March 10, 2006


psmealey, you're killing me!
posted by adamrice at 11:06 AM on March 10, 2006


Do you think W will put on the bars and wings and run around the oval office with his arms outspread making airplane noises?

Flagged.



As fantastic...
posted by dersins at 11:06 AM on March 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


None of the other wars mentioned were like this: just swoop in and bomb the hell out of some country on some trumped-up pretext, with gleeful disregard for international custom.

Agreed, but he didn't say "Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would just swoop in and bomb the hell out of some country on some trumped-up pretext, with gleeful disregard for international custom." If he had, I wouldn't have thought (as apparently several others did) "wow, he doesn't no much about history." Pretty much everything he said he believed was inconceivable happened several times before the current administration. Next line:

I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to “disappear” them into holes like Gitmo

Um...apparently he missed the whole Japanese internment camps thing we did?
posted by scottreynen at 11:11 AM on March 10, 2006


.
posted by simra at 11:13 AM on March 10, 2006


Psmealey just made my weekend.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:19 AM on March 10, 2006


Certain elements of history aside -everything is clearer in the rear view. DuRocher is saying “I thought we stood for ‘X’, it has been made very clear to me now we don’t.”

I don’t think past acts by the country change that in any way.
If it suddenly turned out we were bringing back slavery, one couldn’t argue “well, you should have known better - we had slavery for hundreds of years.”

So curse him for an idealist if you will, but I don’t think the other arguments hold much water. (Not that they’re invalid, we just don’t know what was in this particular guy’s head).

“The outright bold faced blitzkrieg like invasion of Iraq...”

I gotta agree. This is a different war. Different attitude. Even the neo-cons agree there was a break.

I respect DuRocher’s decision and his reasoning. While I disagree with it, I disagree in the sense only that it is not how I feel about it personally. It is not a method of protest I am personally comfortable with.
In part for the very reason that there is a difference between what is occuring now and service I see as honorable.
I could not in good conscience return anything I earned from the service because I consider myself more of a custodian than an owner. Those things belong to the men I served with as much as they belong to me.

I also think it is possible to serve honorably under a poor commander or in an unjust situation. It does however require much more courage.
That said, were I an active part of a unit that disgraced itself, I would feel justified in stripping myself in protest.

And again, not to take away from how DuRocher feels about it or sees it. I consider his commitment and the gravity of what he is doing to draw attention to these matters as a kind of service itself. I respect that. It is merely not how I see or do things myself.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:24 AM on March 10, 2006


Someone's never heard of the Spanish-American war, Korea, the aforementioned Vietnam or even Gulf War One.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:25 PM EST on March 10 [!]


Well, obviously our present geopolitical SNAFU is extraordinary and aggravated by the vile incompetence and of the administration. It calls for extraordinary methods of protest. I applaud DuRocher's brave as hell act. (You know when these cold war soldiers get queasy with this administration it's a sign of some bad badness.) Also, look, regardless of all the fucked up early wars you list above, at this point America's been beating it's chest about certain inalienable universal human ideals for 225+ years. Not to mention two world wars and a cold one so it is seriously time to make good on them, especially now, or simply admit they're a tool for those in power to justify their actions all the while giving meaningless lip service. I bet Mr. DuRocher's got a hell of a lot of understanding and experience behind him on all this this.

One other thing, (this is the point when the Left begins to eat itself and I along with a lot of people I'm sure get sick of it), Honestly, I don't give a flying f*ck a bout the Spanish American War or even Vietnam anymore. Let's learn from history yes, absolutely, but let's not just snakily tear people down who are doing things of immense courage. People who should be welcomed in the Democratic party. This is an extraordinary time, one that is going to define the nation for decades. Either we look for ways to bring possibly right leaning folks like DuRocher in or get ready for another 6 years with the idiot Neocon/bible thumping GOP in control of all three branches of government.
posted by Skygazer at 11:27 AM on March 10, 2006


Mayor Curley: tell me more aboput how the US began a war in Korea, please. As I recall, the North crosswed the line separating the North from the South with the intent to take over the South. The US had a small band of advisers there. We sent troops in from Japan. The war is now stalemated with the same mark of division, the 38th parallel. We did not invade North Korea. I am hardly one to defend American actions worldwide but this is one where we were not the bad guys.
posted by Postroad at 11:28 AM on March 10, 2006


It would be really hilarious if, due to staffing issues, Mr DuRocher were called back to active service.
posted by wakko at 11:31 AM on March 10, 2006


Mayor Curley: tell me more about how the US began a war in Korea, please. As I recall, the North crossed the line separating the North from the South with the intent to take over the South.

Correct. Kathryn Weathersby, writing in the Spring 1995 CWIHP Bulletin: "Following from the above textual analysis, we can conclude that this document resolves two key questions — whether North Korea did in fact plan and initiate the large-scale fighting that began on 25 June 1950 and whether this action was planned and/or supported by the Soviet Union. It is clear from the information presented below that the assertion maintained to this day by the DPRK, and by the Soviet government until its demise, that the military action by North Korea on June 25 was a defensive response to provocation by the South, is simply false. The DPRK planned a full-scale attack on South Korea to begin June 25, with the goal of unifying the country through military force. Stalin approved the North Korean plan, provided sufficient arms and equipment to give the DPRK a significant military superiority by the time of the attack, and sent Soviet military advisers to North Korea to assist in planning the campaign."
posted by russilwvong at 11:44 AM on March 10, 2006


Very well written. It's a completely useless gesture, in terms of Bush actually giving a fuck (or this even getting to him), but I really feel it. I like the idea of collecting these and giving them all at once with some press present.
posted by rollbiz at 12:03 PM on March 10, 2006


amen to this guy, and all who do it--rollbiz is right tho---Bush does not give a shit at all, and wouldn't care even if he actually got to read and see this.

We've never been so disconnected from having our elected officials be at all accountable to us, their bosses.
posted by amberglow at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2006


I've noticed that more and more ex-military — and, for that matter, current military — personnel are becoming more vocal in their rejection of the current Administration.

When the military stops supporting the government, you know there's something wrong.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2006


So curse him for an idealist if you will

I don't see anybody cursing him. I totally support what he's doing, and I'd like it to be more effective. I think it would be more effective if he didn't display a naiveté in the process. I consider myself an idealist, but I don't expect to realize my ideals by ignoring history. If we started heading toward slavery again, and someone said "I thought this country would never tolerate the ownership of people as property" I'd have the same reaction. That doesn't make slavery okay in any way. It's just a recognition of reality. We've done terrible things before, we're doing terrible things now, and I think looking at those honestly will help us avoid doing them again.

Let's learn from history yes, absolutely, but let's not just snakily tear people down who are doing things of immense courage.

Indeed, the snark knob on MeFi seems to be permanently stuck at 11.
posted by scottreynen at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2006


...counting down the seconds until (Swift Boat) other vets slag all over him about his military service in an effort to disparage him and detract from the point at hand.
posted by aether1 at 12:31 PM on March 10, 2006


psmealey rocks my world.
posted by shmegegge at 12:34 PM on March 10, 2006


“I don't see anybody cursing him.” - scottreynen

Figure of speech.

“I think it would be more effective if he didn't display a naiveté in the process.”

Fair point. Yeah, it’s a bit naive to think Bush is going to change thing one based on this, but the ball has to start rolling somewhere.
When honorable men start casting away their accolades because they are connected to you, it’s time to reevaluate what your doing.
But yeah, I don’t think too many folks in charge now care much about that.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:58 PM on March 10, 2006


You're all missing the point-- the man in question is an imperialist. He served in Gulf War One, where were ostensibly protecting democracy in a country where women aren't allowed to vote. He went to war for oil once. But that war was popular.

This man is doing the equivalent of telling a convicted rapist that he can longer be friends with him because he has just discovered that the rapist is also a murderer. "I knew you were gross, but I didn't know you were that gross."

I prefer my indignation from people who haven't taken money to kill for the corporations that own the government.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:00 PM on March 10, 2006


Oh, is that how you prefer your indignation?
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:07 PM on March 10, 2006


You're all missing the point-- the man in question is an imperialist. He served in Gulf War One, where were ostensibly protecting democracy in a country where women aren't allowed to vote. He went to war for oil once. But that war was popular.

The first Gulf War wasn't a pre-emptive war of aggression, though. We did stop at the Kuwaiti border, after Iraq initiated a pre-emptive war of aggression.

This guy, though - I think his conscience is really bothered, and I think he feels as helpless...well...as I do. And maybe this small gesture is simply one way of soothing his embarrassment over the stains on the ideals he swore an oath to protect. It remains to be seen how effective this is. Are there any other cases of this?
posted by TeamBilly at 1:12 PM on March 10, 2006


Oh, is that how you prefer your indignation?

One of the ways.

When I was a teenager, I used to wish desperately that the democrats would grit their teeth and work together instead of being six million factions who thought that they were right. I thought it would make the democrats as effective at doing good as the republicans were at furthering selfishness.

Now I got my wish and the democrats have a big tent with everyone who criticizes the president under it-- from the rightfully outraged to the lunatics to the people who have only slightly more shame than the republican leadership.

Turns out that unity just means that they're as sleazy and morally ambiguous as the republicans. If pragmatism means wading in polluted water, I'm not going in. Fuck Bush, but fuck the lot of you who want to team up with the fringes of the military-industrial complex to get the job done.

Because if we win and this shadow government of self-interest is defeated, you're going to have two choices-- keep shaking the devil's hand or fragment again and loose all that you fought for.

I'd rather loose than lie to myself about how much filth I'm rolling in to win.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:42 PM on March 10, 2006


Mayor Curley: Cursing idealists for the imperfection of their conviction is so useful.

And slimming.
posted by lodurr at 1:42 PM on March 10, 2006


We've never been so disconnected from having our elected officials be at all accountable to us, their bosses.

There is little stronger evidence that our democracy is in serious trouble. What always made American democracy work was that the public servants were available to the common people...Hell, they often were the common people. Until the early 1900's and even somewhat until the Kennedy assassination, you could get near a president. Like close enough for a pat on the back, or a Bronx cheer. Try it now.
posted by rollbiz at 1:54 PM on March 10, 2006


. for America
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:59 PM on March 10, 2006


Mayor Curley: Cursing idealists for the imperfection of their conviction is so useful.

Sarcasm noted. If you want to say "well, he's an imperialist, but he's a better imperialist," I can't stop you. By all means, if your objective is simply to win, gather up all the forces that you can. But, I reiterate, if you do win you either have to turn on your ally or admit that you're no better than the people you replaced.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:03 PM on March 10, 2006


“I prefer my indignation from people who haven't taken money to kill for the corporations that own the government.” -
posted by Mayor Curley

Yeah? How’s that working out for you?

Hmm...I was in the Gulf. Ergo I’m an imperialist and a rapist.

But DuRocher was discharged in April 1965. And he fought in the Gulf? Wow. He is a hardass.

“The American Bar Association presented him its’ 2001 Charles Dorsey Award in recognition of “his exemplary legal career and his devotion to serving the poor and underprivileged” “

Yeah, Jesus, this guy is obviously a real piece of shit.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2006


“He is an active member of the First Unitarian Church of Orlando, Amnesty International and of other professional and social justice organizations.”

Imperialist pig.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:06 PM on March 10, 2006


/nothing personal meant Mayor Curley, the % of folks who read the links seems to be low and it’s irritating. I see how people get on a roll with something and it’s based on inaccurate premises.
Just pointing out perhaps your other assertions may be predicated on inaccuracies as well.
Just maybe - but I don’t want to argue that either way.

As to your other points, I will say again that not everyone who serves does it to be some kind of tool for imperial power.
Views differ there, but the way one man expresses his ethos might not suit someone else. And everyone is getting different data and has different perspectives on it. Not everyone reads the paper or has cable news or is on the internet.
Even if they do, there are different perspectives.
That doesn’t invalidate yours of course, but while your assertions about imperial power etc do have some weight, I disagree with your painting of this man - or indeed anyone who has served honorably, with that brush.

Hope that’s clear. (And less snarky)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:21 PM on March 10, 2006


powerful... thats all i have to say about the letter.

about you guys. can't you see how goddamn depressing of a time we live in? this guy completely brings it to light. i love denigrading Dubya as much as the next guy, but this is just fucking depressing.

good post. kinda crappy commentary (except for a few of you).
posted by Doorstop at 6:35 PM on March 10, 2006


Symbolic act, will amount to nothing, but will make him feel better. I'm not sure how his act can be considered "brave," however.
posted by davidmsc at 8:01 PM on March 10, 2006


.
posted by nickyskye at 11:30 PM on March 10, 2006


I found it a profound act of honor. As such, I could never call it 'depressing'. Rather the opposite, really. I wonder what similar acts have been done these past few years, but gone untrumpeted, or unnoticed.

As a former Navy man myself, even of the flying persuasion (Airdale!), same fleet, different time, I'm moved.
posted by Goofyy at 8:07 AM on March 11, 2006


Mayor Curley:Now I got my wish and the democrats have a big tent with everyone who criticizes the president under it-- from the rightfully outraged to the lunatics to the people who have only slightly more shame than the republican leadership.

Even if you were right about DuRocher. (You understand now that he retired from the Navy in the 60's, yes?). I still don't agree with this statement. Democracy is about common ground and working together. What you write strikes me as the insidious correlative to the "holier then thou" Christian right (Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts etc): Hyperliberal PC moralizing.

What you seem to be suggesting is that centrists, conservatives and people on the right who realize that the Neocon/PNAC policies of George W. Bush are a profound failure, should be punished or shunned somehow?? Should we "take them all out back" and give them a sound beating?? Perhaps cross their names out of the book of life?

People (Right or Left) who're too preoccupied with "the devil" look for it in all the wrong places. They should begin by looking at themselves before pointing fingers and passing judgement.


Symbolic act, will amount to nothing, but will make him feel better. I'm not sure how his act can be considered "brave," however.
posted by davidmsc at 11:01 PM EST on March 10


You've obviously never been disappointed by something you've cared deeply about. Not to mention a major institution that makes up a huge part of your identity. Lucky you.
posted by Skygazer at 9:18 AM on March 11, 2006


Please pardon my ignorance, but MeFi's blocked from work and I don't get as much lurk time here as I used to. What's with the single-period-as-comment postings?

And DuRocher? Dead on. Had my 4-year stint on (peacetime) active duty gone only slightly differently, I'd be coming up on my 20th anniversary this year. Although I considered even then that the anti-flagburning idiots were domestic enemies against whom I'd sworn to protect the Constitution, I never could have imagined the Twilight Zone we're living in today.

To imagine my country as the perfect land of the free would be admittedly naive. But to have pictured what it has become—and that it is continuing down this path—would have been alarmist bordering on psychotic.
posted by phrits at 7:54 AM on March 12, 2006


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