This is my rifle, this is my gun.
November 11, 2008 8:55 AM   Subscribe

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than any enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will... My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit... My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will.... Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but Peace.

The Rifleman's Creed was written by Maj. Gen. William H. Rupertus, one of the most interesting figures of the Pacific Theater. Rupertus lost his wife and children to scarlet fever in China and never recovered from the tragedy. As he led the 1st Marine Division at the Battle of Pelelieu and other pacific battles, he continued to battle depression. Yesterday his beloved Marine Corps celebrated their 233rd birthday.
posted by mattbucher (133 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 


When I was in a high school ROTC program at a boarding school in southern Minnesota (yep, that's right), in order to learn to distinguish the meaning of "rifle" and "gun", we were taught the following pantomime:

This is my rifle [presenting M1]; this is my gun [grabbing crotch].
This is for fighting [presenting M1]; this is for fun [grabbing crotch].

Good times, good times. God I hated the military.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:08 AM on November 11, 2008


LOL guns. Obama said he wants to take them away and give them to Arabs.
posted by billysumday at 9:11 AM on November 11, 2008


Mental Wimp, when was that --- before or after the famous scene?
posted by ghost of a past number at 9:12 AM on November 11, 2008


Korean Vet and Rifle Reunited.
posted by Balisong at 9:15 AM on November 11, 2008


Interestingly, Mental Wimp, that chant was first developed in training during the War of 1812, when American troops suffered heavy casualties during early engagements due to mistakenly attempting to shoot the British with their penises.
posted by rusty at 9:16 AM on November 11, 2008 [32 favorites]


Thanks for this awesome post, mattbucher. I'll be a while wading through these links.
posted by no1hatchling at 9:20 AM on November 11, 2008


I can't answer for Mental Wimp, but I can say that my Grandfather, who joined the Marine Corps in 1937, taught me to sing that little number as a child. This would be in the mid 1960's, long before Full Metal Jacket came out. My Grandmother did not find it nearly as funny as we did, for some odd reason.

On a related note, a big Thank You on this Veteran's Day to both my Grandfathers, and my Father, and my Father-in-law for your service to America.
posted by ralan at 9:20 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Interestingly, Mental Wimp, that chant was first developed in training during the War of 1812, when American troops suffered heavy casualties during early engagements due to mistakenly attempting to shoot the British with their penises.

Shoot! Yes, that's what I was trying to do to the dastardly redcoat behind the shed. Shoot him! In the face!
posted by The Whelk at 9:32 AM on November 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


My uncle parachuted into France with the 82nd Airborne. My Dad was basically a Radar O'Reilly in Washington. My brother got stoned , took care of a goat and worked in the motorpool in Kansas during Vietnam. I served two tours in the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force in Beirut.

I'm not going to start waving flags and go into one of those "if you didn't serve" sort of get off my damned lawn lectures, but I will say there are such things as tact and respect, and perhaps this would have been better posted a day before, or after this one.
posted by timsteil at 9:34 AM on November 11, 2008 [9 favorites]


Mental Wimp, when was that --- before or after the famous scene?

I'm old; class of '68.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:35 AM on November 11, 2008


The Browning BAR featured in the links above is truly an amazing weapon. It was a fully automatic large caliber rifle entering the field when most soldiers were still using bolt action guns. As it was introduced very late in World War 1, it only saw some use, but it was widely popular in World War 2 as it provided a response to the German MG34 that could be easily fielded by a single soldier.

Interestingly, much like the Thompson submachine gun, because it existed in large quantities between the world wars, it was very popular with the gangsters, including Bonnie Parker who despite being only 4'11" tall and weighing 90 lbs, is said to have been able to use her 16 pound BAR as if she were a Marine herself.
posted by quin at 9:38 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I will say there are such things as tact and respect, and perhaps this would have been better posted a day before, or after this one.

I meant no disrespect at all--quite the opposite. I wanted to bring our attention to a forgotten battle (Peleliu) and a forgotten General (Rupertus), which I think is appropriate on 11/11 (or 11/10, the Marine Corps birthday). I am not the one posting about dicks and pussies. For better or worse, the Rifleman's Creed entered the popular consciousness because Kubrick's movie and I'm not surprised to see people referencing it here.
posted by mattbucher at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whether it's the Lord's Prayer or the Nicene Creed or the Om mani padme hum or the St. Crispian's speech from Henry V or the Rifleman's Creed, a chant shared with fellow believers, and practiced until it becomes automatic, gives reassurance and calmness in the face of stress and death.

That's a valuable physiological response, but it in no way vouches for the validity of the words or the sentiment behind them. Creeds are psychological techniques, not logical proofs.

Whether you believe humans are innately violent and constrained only by society, or must be broken and reshaped into killing machines, the real tragedy of war is that either way, it requires that man's better nature (or nurture) must be submerged and sometimes drowned to release the killer of men necessary to the exigencies of war.

Given that as many as one third of US homeless persons are thought to be veterans, given the number of silent sufferers of "battle fatigue" and PTSD, this process is apparently not easily reversed when men return to civil society, however necessary it may have been to preserve that civil society. (Of course, I hasten to add that many veterans do return to peacetime and perform admirably; but it's clear there's an enormous toll paid by all veterans, and for some it is more than they can bear.)

On this Veterans' Day, let's remember that the best way of supporting our troops is to ready them for war and then work as hard as we can never to have to use them for that purpose, and if we must ask them to put their bodies between us and our foes, that we have tried and failed all lesser means to resolve that conflict.
posted by orthogonality at 9:39 AM on November 11, 2008 [18 favorites]


Also, second this:

On a related note, a big Thank You on this Veteran's Day to both my Grandfathers, and my Father, and my Father-in-law for your service to America.

And add my nephew, my four uncles, and my great-great great-grandfather who died at Gettysburg.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:40 AM on November 11, 2008


One of the survivors of Peleliu, Arthur Jackson, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for picking up a BAR and a dozen grenades and running head on into the beach of opposing fire and personally taking out 12 enemy pillboxes.
posted by mattbucher at 9:41 AM on November 11, 2008


Ceremony honors Marine Corps founder
Once a year, few are the proud who remember:

The Philadelphian who founded the Marines is buried here.

Every Nov. 10 for perhaps two decades, a simple sunrise ceremony has taken place at the unlikely site where Maj. Samuel Nicholas is buried, the Quaker meetinghouse at Fourth and Arch Streets.

It's an obscure ritual at a hardly noticed resting place - an almost-unknown tomb of a well-known soldier.

No gravestone marks the spot, and no sign or engraving commemorates his life.

The Religious Society of Friends, renowned for its pacifism, has kept the matter quiet - a remarkable feat in a city that worships history-makers.
posted by peeedro at 9:44 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I was perusing the Marines in Iraq videos on YouTube and mentally comparing them to some Jihadist videos I've seen. Death metal versus and picked Quran verses, shouts of elation when the enemy is blow up, and sexualization of weaponry are prevalent. There's not a lick of difference between the two sides, save for cultural details. I don't mean to take a dump on Veterans Day, but to celebrate war and it's trimmings as we commonly do, including the subject of this post, is very wrongheaded. I think Veteran's Day should be a national holiday, but if there was more of a focus on the actual effects of war on veterans rather than the worthless parades and valor stories we might actual begin to heal and grow as a species.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 AM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


I prefer the admin's prayer.
posted by mullingitover at 9:46 AM on November 11, 2008


Burhanistan, I am not celebrating war. I am telling you about the Battle of Peleliu. It is history and we need to understand it. Even most of the veterans of this battle say it was not necessary. You've made your point about taking care of veterans and how we need to heal as a species, thank you, but don't try to compare the Marines to Jihadists and not expect backlash.
posted by mattbucher at 9:50 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


to celebrate war and it's trimmings as we commonly do, including the subject of this post, is very wrongheaded.

Buddy....

Nobody celebrates it. They just remember it.
posted by timsteil at 9:55 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


mattbucher, I don't really care if people give me backlash, though I would expect that Metafilter would understand cultural relativity better than other places.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:56 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, you say admit to taking a dump on Veteran's Day, and I would would expect that Metafilter would understand how much that idea sucks better than other places.
posted by mattbucher at 10:00 AM on November 11, 2008


orthogonality : given the number of silent sufferers of "battle fatigue" and PTSD, this process is apparently not easily reversed when men return to civil society,

Exactly. I think that one of the worst things we have done in the last half century is to underestimate the importance of providing support for shell shock. Soldiers need this and we either aren't giving it to them, or are creating a culture where they don't want to ask for it (for fear that it will end their military career.)

If a police officer fires on someone in the line of duty, they are required in most places to seek therapy before they can return to work, yet after a soldier comes home from combat, we just expect them to jump right back into their lives with no problem.

I like the sentiment that we should train them and then do our best to never have to put soldiers in harm's way, and if we do, I think we should be prepared to provide support for them for as long as they need it. It seems like a small price to pay for what they are giving us.
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on November 11, 2008


Burhanistan
There's not a lick of difference between the two sides, save for cultural details.
Orthogonality
Whether you believe humans are innately violent and constrained only by society, or must be broken and reshaped into killing machines, the real tragedy of war is that either way, it requires that man's better nature (or nurture) must be submerged and sometimes drowned to release the killer of men necessary to the exigencies of war.
To your point Burhanistan, there is not a lot of surface difference in approach to war, and I think Orthogonality touched on why in his quote above. The difference is what are they fighting for and why. Equating approaches without a discussion of the idealogies at conflict is pretty much useless. What society is the jihadist attempting to enforce through violence? and what society is the Marine trying to enforce through violence?

Now, one could also have a discussion on whether the means of these fighters is conducive to the end that they seek. That would be a worthwhile discussion, but better left for another day. This day it is better to recognize that those that endured war suffered an affront to their humanity. Hopefully we can understand and recognize them for that sacrifice, and help with the societal structures needed to ensure those that return regain what they need to fully integrate back into society.
posted by forforf at 10:18 AM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


If one wishes to talk about famous Marines, there is no man finer than
Smedley Butler and his informational War is a Racket.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:28 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to take a dump on Veterans Day

But you'll go ahead and do it anyway, amiright!
posted by tkchrist at 10:30 AM on November 11, 2008


I think Veteran's Day should be a national holiday, but if there was more of a focus on the actual effects of war on veterans rather than the worthless parades and valor stories we might actual begin to heal and grow as a species.

You're looking for Armistice Day. Conveniently also today! Dulce et decorum est.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2008


forforf, I suppose we should qualify the term "Jihadist". I wasn't referring to 9-11 style suicide bombers, but rather the insurgency in Iraq. There are certainly differences in motivations to violence, but at a deeper level (as I see it anyways), the urge towards violence is largely the same but is expressed differently at the surface.

Now, one could also have a discussion on whether the means of these fighters is conducive to the end that they seek. That would be a worthwhile discussion, but better left for another day. This day it is better to recognize that those that endured war suffered an affront to their humanity.

I don't know why these two things need to be compartmentalized. As I see it, there is an unbroken continuum of sadness that needs to be addressed and that simply is not done properly by having stoic parades and F-18 flyovers at the baseball game. At any rate, this is not a good forum for such a debate and as mattbucher said, is not quite the main thrust of his post.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 AM on November 11, 2008


orthogonality : given the number of silent sufferers of "battle fatigue" and PTSD, this process is apparently not easily reversed when men return to civil society,

Exactly. I think that one of the worst things we have done in the last half century is to underestimate the importance of providing support for shell shock.



I grew up in a small town in the midwest, and like every kid, I had a paper route. There was one guy on my route, whom I had been forewarned....was a little off. He spent maybe eight or nine months out of the year sleeping in a pup tent in his back yard. I never saw him at the house, which BTW was a beautiful brick place right on Main Street. He NEVER came to the door to get his paper, always just left the collection money in a jar on the porch for me. Saw him once or twice getting out of his tent in the morning.

I would see him every once in a while walking to town to the grocery for milk or whatever. He was always dressed in fatigues , and a motorcycle helmet. Everybody knew who he was...said he had shell shock, and while I don't know if anyone really knew what that was at that time, the town just cut the guy a wide berth, and figured live and let live eh. He ain't hurting inyone.

Then one night, think it was Homecoming, the HS football team decided to play a prank on him. Must have been October, but the guy was still sleeping in his pup tent in his uniform in his backyard. The fuckin assholes went in the middle of the night, and taped firecrackers all over his tent, lit em and ran.

He was taken to the local nursing home the next day, and that's where he stayed the rest of his life.

I still subscribe to my hometown paper, and saw his obit about a year and a half ago.

Six Bronze Stars, enough Purple Hearts to make you cry, if there was a fuckin medal the military gives out that he didn't have, I don't know what it is. I think maybe the Congressional Medal of Honor was the only one he never got.

He got a pauper's funeral, no family left. Buried in a vet's cemetary.

His name was Clifton.
posted by timsteil at 10:38 AM on November 11, 2008 [71 favorites]


all my life i have hoped for a no veterans day.
posted by kitchenrat at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I just watched that Peleliu documentary (the "It is my life." link). All those poor Japanese and American men went to war for what they thought was a purpose but were shot, suffocated, burned, and blasted to bits for control of a little patch of ground in the middle of the ocean.
posted by pracowity at 10:48 AM on November 11, 2008



I don't know why these two things need to be compartmentalized.

You know I think there might be a happy and more productive medium between parades with F-18 flyovers and telling suffering returning veterans that they're just like Jihadists that cut dudes heads off.

At any rate, this is not a good forum for such a debate and as mattbucher said, is not quite the main thrust of his post.

May I suggest other "not good forums"?

During the forthcoming Holiday posts that may, for instance, feature Charlie Brown's Christmas that you NOT bring up wanton consumerism, the pain of crucifixion, and how Santa Claus doesn't exist anyway. And the next YouTube video with puppies in it you NOT mention rabies, PETA, and the Parvo virus.
posted by tkchrist at 10:58 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Nice false dichotomies, thanks!
posted by Burhanistan at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2008


Burhanistan: There's not a lick of difference between the two sides, save for cultural details.

You can't seriously believe that. The marine does not decide who and when to fight, he follows orders. Those orders come to the marine from a very clear hierarchy extending to the democratically elected leader of his country. In that capacity, the marine exists to execute the will of the people of his country.

When the marine fights, he does not do so lawlessly. He is bound by the rules of engagement, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and international law. There is no confusing the marine on the battlefield for an innocent civilian.

The jihadist is more akin to a street gang. They have no rules other than expedience, and are not governed by any local, national, or international law. They deliberately hide among civilians knowing full well that doing so puts those civilians--their countrymen--in danger. They do it anyway. The jihadist serves no manifest public will. He may claim he fights for God, but there is no way to determine whether the jihadist himself believes that or is lying. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan because the President of the United States ordered them to be there.

Thus the first key difference - the marine is not morally responsible for the entire conflict. He is only morally responsible for his own conduct during that conflict. The jihadist is morally responsible both for his own conduct and for the entire conflict on his side (along with all the other jihadists), because it is his conduct that defines the conflict.

The second key difference - the marine will accept his enemy's surrender and stop fighting. The jihadist accepts no surrender, and takes no prisoners.

War is problematic, like any aspect of politics. Equally problematic is the relationship between the military doing the fighting and the people safe back home sitting in judgment.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:01 AM on November 11, 2008 [21 favorites]


Pastabagel, insurgency groups are in fact well organized. Also, Marines routinely kill civilians.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:02 AM on November 11, 2008


My cousin, a Marine, has served several tours in Iraq clearing IEDs in heavily armored vehicles. He's gotten tattoos for the ones that they've missed that have blown up next to his Buffalo, 9 falling shells with angel wings. I was glad when he was stationed in California. He keeps signing up to go back though.

My fiancee is a clinical social worker for the Veteran's Affairs hospital here, working on a locked psych ward with all the PTSD cases and homeless veterans. She tells me about the young kids who enlist for the GI Bill and then find out when they get in theater that they are expected to kill people. Their brains can't handle it and they go nuts. She tells me about the people gaming the system, who expect that because they spent 3 months in non-combat duty 15 years ago that they are entitled to hand outs for the rest of their days; of those who habitually make insincere suicide attempts on Monday because it will get them 3 square for a week, just in time to get out for the weekend so they can spend their stipend on drugs. I've seen how she has become more jaded and cynical since she started working there, and I've seen how hopeful she became with this past election.

Veteran's Day isn't about celebrating war, it's about remembering those who have served. My parent's both served, although were too young to see time in Nam. My father is still active in the American Legion and I spent much time growing up in the Legion Hall. My fiancee is active in the VFW ladies axillary. She's taking the day off and although I'm working, I'm sure there will be many down at the post tonight drinking amongst the decorations and medals of those that gave their lives and those that gave the best years of their lives. I will go and toast with them tonight.
posted by daHIFI at 11:09 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nice false dichotomies, thanks!
posted by Burhanistan at 11:00 AM on November 11 [+] [!]


You know what there Burhnie:

I going to go pick up my kids from school. Then I am going to take my son to basketball practice. Then I am going to go pick him up from basketball practice. Then I am going to get very seriously and solemnly shitfaced.

I will raise my glass to some friends I no longer have. I will think about the legacy of my father, my uncles, my brother.

I will also think about, in the very face of a whole lot of innocent blood shed over nothing, there are still people who can dig into their back pocket, toss out the word "dichotomies", and walk away feeling superior.
posted by timsteil at 11:12 AM on November 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


timsteil writes "He was taken to the local nursing home the next day, and that's where he stayed the rest of his life."

Jesus. I know how stupid and empathetic people are, but surely those kids must have realized just what the fuck they were doing.

Strange as Clifton's lifestyle may have been, he'd paid his price, and he was still daily paying the price, to live with himself as best he could.

I wonder how those kids live with themselves, but I suspect they're unfortunately quite unharmed by the jovial destruction they wreaked. (And of course, that in itself could be a metaphor for war, or soldiers, or the "statesmen" who start wars.)
posted by orthogonality at 11:14 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"The PowerPoint Ranger's Creed" - the song of a new military culture:

This is my PowerPoint. There are many like it but mine is 7.0.

My PowerPoint is my best friend. It is my life.
I must master it as I master my life.

My PowerPoint without me is useless.
Without my PowerPoint, I am useless.

I must format my slides true. I must brief them better
than the other J-cells who are trying to out brief me.
I must brief the impact on the CINC before he asks me. I will!

My PowerPoint and myself know that what counts in this war
is not the number of slides, quantity of animations, the colors
of the highlights, or the format of the bullets. We know that it
is the new information that counts. We will brief only new information!

My PowerPoint is human, even as I, because it is my life.
Thus I will learn it as a brother.

I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its fonts,
its accessories, its formats, and its colors.

I will keep my PowerPoint slides current and ready to brief.
We will become part of each other. We will!

Before God I swear this creed. My PowerPoint and myself are
defenders of my country. We are the masters of our subject.
We are the saviors of my career.

So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy,
but peace (and the next exercise)!

posted by Iridic at 11:19 AM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Iridic: a slightly different version.
posted by mattbucher at 11:23 AM on November 11, 2008


Oh goodness, I'm Joy Behar in this thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 AM on November 11, 2008


There's not a lick of difference between the two sides, save for cultural details.

Not a lick of difference? Really? Not even in what they're, you know, actually doing?

Maybe I was absent that day of training when they told us that the idea is actually to kill civilians as a stepping stone to victory.
posted by lullaby at 11:26 AM on November 11, 2008


Oh, to everyone arguing what Veterans' Day means, and about the differences between our soldiers and their killers, I've previously posted a few tries at telling (our) soldiers' stories in their own words. I don't know that reading them will settle any arguments, but for me at least these gave some insight.

"What dreams / Will be left / undreamed tonight?" For 11/11, soldiers' poems of MACV (The U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam)

and "When you go to the wall, / You can feel all the heat of that cool decade": Soldiers' stories told in the veterans' poetry, from the archives of the Viet Nam Generation Journal.
posted by orthogonality at 11:28 AM on November 11, 2008


lullaby: look closely. I said I was distinguishing Jihadists in Iraq from the Al Qaida bombers who perpetrated 9-11. By the way, the US has killed far more civilians there since then and couches it with terms like "collateral damage", so yes you might have been absent that day.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on November 11, 2008


And I should probably bow out here. My apologies for any poor communication or offenses on my part.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:30 AM on November 11, 2008


I said I was distinguishing Jihadists in Iraq from the Al Qaida bombers who perpetrated 9-11.

Oh, these Iraqi "Jihadists"?
...a suicide bomber struck people trying to help schoolgirls trapped in a bus hit moments earlier by a roadside bomb.

Tuesday's attacks happened in Palestine Street, one of the major thoroughfares in eastern Baghdad.
That does make more sense.


By the way, the US has killed far more civilians there since then and couches it with terms like "collateral damage", so yes you might have been absent that day.

I don't see a single person disputing that the US has killed civilians in Iraq, or anywhere. I see people drawing a distinction between the veterans that this day was intended to honor and the "Jihadists" that are apparently just the same -- based on the dumb videos that bored Marines upload to youtube, of course.
posted by lullaby at 11:37 AM on November 11, 2008


For some time now I've been troubled by the words in the first line of the 'Marine's Hymn' that commemorate a war fought to take territory from a neighboring country, plus reference to another war largely ignored in American history. I wonder what young Marines, like Rafael Peralta, have been taught about the history of the Mexican–American War.

Why are the Spanish–American and subsequent Philippine-American War left out of discussion about brave American service members sacrificing for our freedoms. The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to over 100 military members for heroism during the Spanish-American War and an additional 88 COMs were awarded to heroic servicemen in the Philippine-American War. Specifically which of our freedoms did those heroes fight and die for?

We must of course honor everyone who serves in our military. Without those honors and recognition how else could we continue to recruit more young people to fight the battles for us?
posted by X4ster at 11:39 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess this is the Veteran's Day post? If so, thank you, mattbucher, and thanks to all those who have and are serving the country.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:43 AM on November 11, 2008


Veteran's Day isn't about celebrating war, it's about remembering those who have served.

So we have a funny time in my family on Remembrance Day. I don't think anyone in my direct family has served since World War one, possibly earlier.

On my wife's side though, her grandfather served in WW two. He fought for the Germans on the Russian front. He died when my father-in-law was three or something. So no one ever knew him. As he approaches retirement and enjoys his grandkids I still see him wonder sometimes about the father he never knew. And was the man actually a Nazi or just some average German guy who got himself caught in one of the greatest meatgrinders in human history? We'll never know. All I know are the childhood stories told by a man who grew up without a father.

We watched the Canadian Remembrance Day ceremonies on the CBC website this morning. And while I remember the men and women who gave their life in service to Canada, I also remember the people who gave their lives for nothing. Absolutely nothing.
posted by GuyZero at 11:46 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


A sincere thanks to any and all who are talking any time out of their busy and hectic schedules to think of those of us that have served.

Death rides a Blackhorse.

2/11 Armored Cavalry Regiment, V Corps, Bad Kissengen, West Germany

HOO-Ah!!!
posted by winks007 at 11:56 AM on November 11, 2008


this post sponsored by the N.R.A.
posted by krautland at 11:58 AM on November 11, 2008


I live in the US, but grew up in the UK. In the UK I felt this day was very much about commemoration and remembrance with respect.

Today (in the US) I got a email forwarded asking me to thank a veteran, which doesn't seem the same as simple remembrance.
posted by idb at 11:59 AM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


surely those kids must have realized just what the fuck they were doing.

It's hard to say what's going on inside the teenage brain, but they probably didn't know what they were doing. Kids generally aren't bad enough to want to frighten a sick old man to death. They probably figured it would just give him a temporary fright and be oh so hilarious.
posted by pracowity at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2008


In the UK I felt this day was very much about commemoration and remembrance with respect.

Yeah, the vibe I get is that Remembrance Day is to remember those who aren't here (i.e. dead soldiers) while Veteran's Day in the US is about thanking those who served and survived.

I don't know if one is better but they're definitely not the same. It's odd how similar yet different the day is now that I live in the US.
posted by GuyZero at 12:05 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think one can remember those who have honorably served and hope for a time when we don't have young men killing other young men for questionable causes. All without giving the sort of offense that Burnhistan so clearly felt compelled to give.

So I'll do what I usually do every Armistice Day.

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


-Wilfred Owen, 1917.

Wilfred Owen died, after enduring years of hell on the Western Front, on November 4th, 1918 - exactly one week before the signing of the armistice - in a useless and unnecessary assault across a canal in a barren, lifeless wasteland in northern France. He was 25 years old.
posted by Justinian at 12:05 PM on November 11, 2008 [15 favorites]


Yeah, the vibe I get is that Remembrance Day is to remember those who aren't here (i.e. dead soldiers) while Veteran's Day in the US is about thanking those who served and survived.

We have Memorial Day in May for those that died in service. Veteran's Day is to acknowledge the service of anyone who's served, living or dead.
posted by elfgirl at 12:14 PM on November 11, 2008


My apologies for any poor communication or offenses on my part.

Umm, Burhanistan, in the future, when people are remembering their dead, that's a bad time to insult people from the smug armchair of moral relativism. Even if we're currently in the middle of an unjust war, it's just mean.

Many people here are remembering family members who served in WWII, and I don't think they appreciate your actions just now.

(Note to other posters: I'm not saying that the veterans from WWI through the current war don't deserve respect, but I'm not sure how else to make him listen.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:20 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The NFB is streaming the film Front Lines on November 11. "A tribute to the combatants in the First World War, this film traces the conflict through the war diary and private letters of five Canadian soldiers and a nurse."
posted by acro at 12:20 PM on November 11, 2008


Link to whole film (33:55).
posted by acro at 12:25 PM on November 11, 2008


My great-grandfather was killed in WWI, which led to my great-grandmother remarrying and moving with her young son from England to Canada. This son got married, had six children (including my mother), who in turn had children, and those children are now having children of their own.

This morning as I left for work I said good-bye to my 10 month old son and silently wished that he will never see a world like that which took his great-great grandfather so needlessly.

Peace, please.
posted by Paid In Full at 12:28 PM on November 11, 2008


poppies
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:31 PM on November 11, 2008


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
— Lt.-Col. John McCrae
posted by rmd1023 at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2008


There seem to be a lot of different takes on what we think Veterans Day is all about.
I appreciate the comments on multiple levels. But I'm also glad to have the post as a reminder to fill out the form that prevents recruiters from getting information about my daughter and trying to recruit her when she finishes high school. She's 15 and she and her generation have had more shouts of militarism and false patriotism in their lifetime than anyone should have to put up with. I grew up in a military family in the 1960s and I've had it with knee-jerk praise of war and accusations of treachery against against those who opposed it.
posted by etaoin at 12:50 PM on November 11, 2008


“I've had it with knee-jerk praise of war and accusations of treachery against against those who opposed it.”

Yeah. Vets don’t know anything about that kind of experience.

“Specifically which of our freedoms did those heroes fight and die for?”

The right for a representative democracy to assert its will by force through the sacrifice of others.
I think it’s a shame they were sent. But wasn’t their idea. One can honor the service without honoring the war.

I think the best way to celebrate veterans day is as a rememberance day. A rememberance of the duty citizens have to participate in and be wary of their government. That they have a duty and responsibility to be vigilant and honor the pledge made by men who volunteer to sacrifice their lives by not asking them to make that sacrifice for selfish or arbitrary causes.

I think it’s a perfect day to invite a veteran to speak at a school at a library, or at some other sort of civic center or forum and LISTEN to them.

Listen rather than blather on about what you think the day is supposed to be or what your politics are or what you think war is all about.

Listen - instead of trying to slap some brand label or ignore the basi fact of the sacrifice and duty that it is and spin it in some political or ideological way whether they revile or idolize. Whether it’s bunting and children’s choruses singing about how great America is and all our freedomz. Or it’s the other side saying because they think the cause was bullshit your buddies death was meaningless or whatever.

Everyone has their own take on what justifies violence or doesn’t where the bar is. Who’s to blame and who isn’t.

Hell, only reason to return to a country that was indifferent to sending you off to war and apathetic when you come back is to tell the story. So people remember. So it doesn’t happen again.

But no one wants to hear about the war itself. The basic fact of the experience. They want the spin. The why’s. The wherefores. They want to see that they’re right about what they were already pretty sure of in the first place. And if it’s not from you, you’re not a ‘real’ vet. Or someone else’s experience is more valid. Or this guy said something else.
They want consensual validation.

But - for one day - listen to the men who've returned from war:

Just. Fucking. Listen.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:54 PM on November 11, 2008 [19 favorites]


In the UK I felt this day was very much about commemoration and remembrance with respect.

To expand, the thing that the UK or Canada (among others) do today, the US does on Memorial Day.* Memorial Day flows out of the Civil War, which occupies the same Immense Traumatic Experience niche in the US that the Great War does in Canada or the UK (or elsewhere).

*Except we're still Americans, and crass as all get-out, so there are still cookouts and sales and people going to beach, because it's also the semiofficial start of summer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:56 PM on November 11, 2008


Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.


This is where, for me, that poem goes from solid antiwar sentiment to purest WTF. It's like having Joe Bonham, at the end of the novel, bang out K-I-L-L-T-H-E-H-U-N with his head.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:05 PM on November 11, 2008


Smedleyman writes "But no one wants to hear about the war itself. The basic fact of the experience."

TELL ME WHAT IT WAS REALLY LIKE

What was it like over there?
Come on, tell me all about it;
But don't spoil any of my preconceptions,
Just tell me what it was really like.

Don't use words like "service" and "sacrifice",
That's not what I want to hear;
Tell me about burning villages,
Tell me what it was really like.

There you go, talking about mateship,
Talking about courage and fear;
Tell me about the drugs, man,
Tell me what it was really like.

What's all this about booby traps, tunnels,
Jumping jack mines and mortar attacks?
Did you rape any women?
Tell me what it was really like.

You go on about the heat and the mud,
The hard work and the lack of sleep;
Did you pick up a dose on R and R?
Tell me what it was really like.

You talk about cas-evac and dust-off,
I don't even know what that means;
Did you kill any children?
Tell me what it was really like.

It's getting hard to talk to you,
You don't seem to communicate;
You get upset too easily,
I only asked what it was really like.
#

Copyright 2002 - Lachlan Irvine
posted by orthogonality at 1:12 PM on November 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


Happiness is a warm gun.

Not that I'm in the NRA or anything. I'm just a Beatles fan, I swear!
posted by Xere at 1:16 PM on November 11, 2008


Just. Fucking. Listen.

I just called my 89 year old great uncle and WWII veteran. Man can he talk.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:47 PM on November 11, 2008


As a pacifist who hopes we never fight another war, I'd like to thank my brother and my late father for serving in the Army and my late Uncle Gene who was a Marine and spent WWII in the worst hellholes the South Pacific had to offer. He never talked about it, except for humorous stories about adopting a pig, that sort of thing, but I cut him a lot of slack even though his politics were diametrically opposed to my righteous college lefty pieties.
posted by languagehat at 2:19 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


to release the killer of men necessary to the exigencies of war. orthogonality

The exigencies of war.

The exigencies of war.

For fucks sake, what are The Exigencies Of War
posted by Restless Day at 2:48 PM on November 11, 2008


Main Entry:
ex·i·gen·cy
Pronunciation:
\ˈek-sə-jən(t)-sē, ig-ˈzi-jən(t)-\
Function:
noun
Date:
1581

1: that which is required in a particular situation —usually used in plural 2 a: the quality or state of being exigent b: a state of affairs that makes urgent demands

Exigent:

Pronunciation:
\ˈek-sə-jənt\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
Latin exigent-, exigens, present participle of exigere to demand.
Date:
1629

1 : requiring immediate aid or action 2 : requiring or calling for much : DEMANDING

posted by The Whelk at 3:11 PM on November 11, 2008


Two things that happened to today for me.

One, meeting a discharged Army captain at Subway, who was fired by Wal-Mart the exact day after the length of time that Wal-Mart was required to keep him upon his return from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, then suffering serious injury that permanently damaged one eye. He had worked five years for the company.

Second, calling my great-uncle who had fought in the Italy during the Second World War, as part of America's invasion of Europe before Normandy. The only real "war" talk we had was him telling me how wartime pictures I'd found of a friend of my uncle were given to a fellow veteran at the retirement community where my uncle lived. By pure coincidence, my Uncle's childhood friend had ended up fighting with the old fellow in the 102nd in Europe.

Both the captain and my uncle, I thanked for their service.

Lastly, I've had the chance to experience Armistice Day in England while I was in England in high school. It was a foggy day in Surrey. The type of fog that left you blind in all directions after only about thirty yards. It was in the 40's and we had complained to our gym teacher about going out in the weather. I can't even recall what activity we participated in, but then somewhere, a clock struck 11 o'clock. A canon fired, off in the distance. It's boom muffled by the fog that surrounded us in an ethereal white walls . Then another canon fired, this one from another direction. Then a third from yet another direction. I don't know how my classmates felt about it, but it was both a beautiful and tragic moment.

In a conclusion, a thankful prayer to my grandfathers who fought separately in the Pacific and in Europe, having since moved on to a more heavenly location.
posted by Atreides at 3:12 PM on November 11, 2008


Wal-mart supports our troops!
posted by tkchrist at 3:19 PM on November 11, 2008


Smedleyman,
I am in fact a Veteran; Cu Chi, Viet Nam - 1968. My general thought when I wrote originally is that the US, like many other countries, has been involved in a number of wars. One was clearly and undeniably necessary. Another was not so clear and and the justifications for it are questionable in my mind. To justify the sacrifice of military members for "The right for a representative democracy to assert its will by force through the sacrifice of others." is not what I'd hope to see as the reason that so many lives have been given.

We all hope that lessons can be learned from what has taken place in the past. And we all hope that the decision to send troops into war, and to their deaths, will be made only when it is unavoidable.
posted by X4ster at 3:35 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the whole postings.
But let me say the following,
I would rather not have PTSD suffering vets in my neighborhod.

I know, that's harsh.
I know that's not PC.
I know that's not "Reaching out to what someone might be, instead of what they are trained to be".

I'm sorry.

But really, i have a 9 month old, and a 2 1/2 year old, and I would rather not have them deal with an episode where the Flight For Life helecopter comes through, and you freak out and shoot it, Or that you see my daughter playing on her rocking zebra and you think she's detonating a explosive devise.

P Ts
posted by Balisong at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2008


eR... D.
posted by Balisong at 3:36 PM on November 11, 2008


I'd rather not have people who collect guns living in my neighborhood. They might go crazy and and guns are scary!

I also don't wants dickheads who shit up threads in my neighborhood either. Or in this thread.

Hopeful wishes and respect to their service to all veterans, and that both those that I admire and those that raise disgust, and all those in between get what they need.
posted by Snyder at 3:42 PM on November 11, 2008


In college I wrote a paper about how we came to regard Vietnam vets as crazy. (see orthoganality's poem above) There were a great number of factors, but one of the ones was the unfortunate way the vets who were trying to get needed medical care were depicted at the time. The psychological services at the time were nearly non-existent, so of course everyone saw the vets who didn't get the help they needed.

There's more about stuff coming from both the left and the right, but if I go on, I'll end up summarizing the paper. In short- war does fucked up things to people, but people who go through war are by no means any more fucked up than those who don't. At least, that's true for the Vietnam vets. No idea about the ones coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan.

I've lost track of my two friends who were in the services, today might be a good day to look them up.

On preview- Balisong, people can get PTSD from many sources. If they get the right help, there shouldn't be a problem with them living in your neighborhood. Of course, I'm kind of uncertain about the support the VA gets these days (the one part of the military budget that ever seems to get cut).
posted by Hactar at 3:43 PM on November 11, 2008


Balisong writes "I would rather not have PTSD suffering vets in my neighborhod."

I mean, to really deal with vets with PTSD -- or even the small minority whose PTSD is a threat to the rest of us and not just a godawful unrelenting personal pain for the vet and his family -- we'd have to, I dunno, provide those heroes with the medical care we promised them when they enlisted, and that's too expensive a promise to keep. Wouldn't be fiscally prudent. Better to just make sure they stay out of your neighborhood.

No prob. I mean, having defended the country and suffered psychological or neurological wounds doing so, these people are pretty much disposable. We can send them "in country" to the poor neighborhoods, so if they do "go off" like a piece of discarded ordnance, they only take out poor dark-skinned people like nature intended.

Now I know some folks get sentimental, Balisong, about "veterans" and their sacrifices, but you and me, we're adults and we understand that, well, a veteran is like a horse or a dog or a nigra, and when he's no longer able to do the work we set them to -- that is, sacrifice his life and health so that you and me can live the fat and happy American Dream in our safe and pristine neighborhoods --, it's best just to put them out of their misery and make 'em into glue or dogfood.

Maybe we can feed those worthless vets feed surplus Irish babies too.
posted by orthogonality at 4:11 PM on November 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


George Carlin:
There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the Second World War came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Viet Nam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Viet Nam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll betcha.
Michael Moore:
I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend us. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?
Ulysses S. Grant:
For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the [Mexican-American] war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.
...
The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:35 PM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


“I would rather not have PTSD suffering vets in my neighborhod.”

Understandable. I’ve had it. Still don’t sleep much at night. (As you can tell from my posting). But I can’t imagine I’d attack a child.
I’m not getting down on you - but that’s a pretty shallow understanding of PTSD. Like saying I don’t want schizophrenics changing personality in front of me in case they have an evil personality.
(I’d suspect tho, in a civil unrest situation you’d be very glad you live next door to me)
Giving you the benefit of the doubt here that you’re merely ignorant and not stupid.
The key is to support programs to help them, not shun them.
Not saying that’s what you’re saying, but it sounds that way.

Hell, I don’t like having homeless people sleep in my local public library. But that’s more an expression of wanting to see them get the proper care in the proper venue than wanting to just get rid of them.

It’s like the fear of school shootings or the pedophile in the bushes. Pretty much media hype instead of rational decision making based on the statistics. Want to keep your kid safe? Don’t worry so much about someone jumping them from the bushes on the way to school, but keep an eye on “uncle” Charley.
Same deal with the vets.

“ To justify the sacrifice of military members for "The right for a representative democracy to assert its will by force through the sacrifice of others." is not what I'd hope to see as the reason that so many lives have been given.”

It doesn’t justify the sacrifice. Nothing does. You can’t ask another man to lay down his life for yours in even the most noble cause and convince anyone in their family it was worth it.
They will always feel the loss and the sacrifice. You’re looking for something that doesn’t exist. No cause is worth taking my parent or my child.
It can only be necessary or unnecessary.
I fully agree with you that there are many unnecessary wars.

But my position is that yours is a question that can’t be answered. Because the men who fight answer only the call of duty. They don’t, and cannot, make the decision where to fight or why.
(Conscription is a whole other thing. I’m opposed from first principles to conscription in a democracy).

So their deaths may be necessary or not. But they are not without meaning. They served their country and did their duty. If they fought honorably, they should be lauded for that. If they did not, they should be prosecuted.
But I cannot say their deaths were in vain - anymore than I can blame them for initiating the fighting.
As Pastabagel pointed out - they follow orders.

And indeed - no more than I could give them credit for a war we all might feel was just, like - say - WWII. Many men served in that war honorably.
But we have to give credit to leadership and the people at home for that. It’s not like the men got together and decided to form this foreign policy, drill, collect weapons and go and fight.

They get credit for fighting. Not for winning, not for losing, not for a just or unjust cause. Just for doing their duty. That’s all.
For me, that’s enough.

The decision *whether* to send people into harms way, the justification - those are political questions.
And I’m not taking anything away from them. They’re valid ones.
Hell, I agree with you. And I’m a veteran myself.

But the reason men’s lives were given? I don’t see any ‘reason’ in that at all. Unless it’s to make some men rich off the blood of others.
But don’t conflate the willingness to serve and even die for one’s country as contingent upon how it’s used. Warfighters can’t decide the cause.
And that alone is a sacrifice. And that alone is honorable and has meaning.

And I honor the men and women who oppose war on principle. Anyone who sacrifices their time, energy and effort, in that regard they’re honorable warriors for peace.

You were in Vietnam you’ve got to know the difference between the givers and the takers.
It’s just that we’d like to believe the b.s. that it stood for ‘x’ or ‘y’ or ‘z’ beyond just some rich men’s game.
But it doesn’t. And it doesn’t have to. And I think the more we recognize that the less we’ll get into useless wars.
I mean that’s how they do all the recruiting. The whole song and dance about what it means and patriotism and you get out of it what you put in and blah blah blah.
Meanwhile some rich guy is sitting on his fat ass with an ex-general running his sales department lobbying for war so he can sell his new useless hunk of equipment to fight for whatever oil company is looking to expand that day.

If people knew that, they’d never sign up. Which would be fine too.
On the other hand, if we actually held our government accountable and took the profiteering out of war, maybe we wouldn’t indifferently wipe our asses with the sacrifices of so many young men every decade who just want to be of service to their country.

And that wouldn’t suck at all.
It still wouldn’t make war mean a damn thing other than something you do only when you absolutely have to.
And a flag on a casket and a handful of medals doesn’t mean anything to a kid without a father.
Nothing worth celebrating.

Just something necessary, and worth remembering.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:39 PM on November 11, 2008 [24 favorites]


To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts.

This is the lower sling swivel. And this
Is the upper sling swivel, whose use you will see,
When you are given your slings. And this is the piling swivel,
Which in your case you have not got. The branches
Hold in the gardens their silent, eloquent gestures,
Which in our case we have not got.

This is the safety-catch, which is always released
With an easy flick of the thumb. And please do not let me
See anyone using his finger. You can do it quite easy
If you have any strength in your thumb. The blossoms
Are fragile and motionless, never letting anyone see
Any of them using their finger.

And this you can see is the bolt. The purpose of this
Is to open the breech, as you see. We can slide it
Rapidly backwards and forwards: we call this
Easing the spring. And rapidly backwards and forwards
The early bees are assaulting and fumbling the flowers:
They call it easing the Spring.

They call it easing the Spring: it is perfectly easy
If you have any strength in your thumb: like the bolt,
And the breech, and the cocking-piece, and the point of balance,
Which in our case we have not got; and the almond-blossom
Silent in all of the gardens and the bees going backwards and forwards,
For to-day we have naming of parts.

Henry Reed
posted by Mephisto at 5:03 PM on November 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


The "this is my rifle" reminds me of one of the strongest bits of war poetry I've read, Henry Reed's Naming of Parts from his poem Lessons of the War.
posted by Abiezer at 5:06 PM on November 11, 2008


Heh, and I did preview, just not at the last moment... Curse you, Mephisto! (Is that in Faust?)
posted by Abiezer at 5:07 PM on November 11, 2008


How strange is that Abiezer?!...

And yes, Mephisto as in Faust. Just don't hold me to my word!
posted by Mephisto at 5:14 PM on November 11, 2008


"I don't trust people who make bitter reflections about war, Mrs. Barham. It's always the generals with the bloodiest records who are the first to shout what a Hell it is. And it's always the widows who lead the Memorial Day parades . . . we shall never end wars, Mrs. Barham, by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists or all the other banal bogies. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals and name boulevards after those ministers; the rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields. We wear our widows' weeds like nuns and perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices."

from The Americanization of Emily (1964), screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky
posted by bonefish at 5:22 PM on November 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man. After all this downer I want to tell a great PTSD story that's actually very humane and funny about my dad but it's the end of the thread. It will have to wait until next Veterans Day becuase nobody will end up reading it and I don't want to waste it.
posted by tkchrist at 5:45 PM on November 11, 2008


C'mon, Tkchrist, we want to read it.
posted by etaoin at 6:04 PM on November 11, 2008


Is it funnier than trading MREs at 3 or 4 to 1 and still crapping like a dog? Funniest thing I can think of today.
That and being a guerilla in a gorilla suit.

Share it man. You can always post it again.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:11 PM on November 11, 2008


I just called all my retired military family members and thanked them, partially due to this thread. Thank you for that mattbucher.

I'm Active Duty now and have been for almost nine years. Those years have gone by quick, and I don't regret one of them. Several times I've had the conversation with my peers about how to respond to someone who says, "Thank you for your service." Usually when they see us out in public while in uniform, stopping to get gas, groceries, etc. What do you say? "You're Welcome" is kind of arrogant. "My pleasure" is awkward.

Thank You. Thanks for some recognition. I don't need a parade, a fly-by, or fireworks. Acknowledgement that my job is in service to others, whether or not you always agree with the end-result, is enough. In turn, I'd like to thank those that have gone before me. The shoes I have to fill are quite large. I'm honored that I get to try my feet in them. Thanks.
posted by jawbreaker at 6:26 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I could spend from now til sunup responding to some of the things in this post. I would be saying thank you to some, fuck you to others.

There are a mountain of cliches you can throw at this day. Thank a Vet.....go buy a Vet a beer or whatever. I doubt that either would not be appreciated at face level, but with the silent understanding from the Vet that this is pretty much like sending your mailman a Xmas card.

I have read some incredibly sentient and moving things in this post.

I was lucky enough to come back with the same number of arms and legs I left with, and I won't even try to act like I can understand what it would be like to be one of the ones that didn't, no matter what tour they took. As so many have said up this thread so very eloquently, there are also folks out there who have some wounds you can't see.

For whatever it's worth, if any of you are writing a damned book or anything, my Veterans Day went thusly. I wore my old uniform jacket, and the very stereotypical ballcap with one of my unit's insignias and a medal I earned tacked on the front of it.

The only people that said anything close to a thank you to me were two mefites who emailed privately. When I picked up my kids at school....a couple of the parents in the parking lot took a couple steps back like I was freaking them out or something.

Anyway, I'm just going to hoist another one, not think about many things other than what the hell I feel like nuking for dinner, and for whatever part I played in keeping it that way, knowing that I live in a country where incredible people of every age and stripe can post their thoughts in a place like this, and suffer somewhat ungladly the douchebags who try to turn a thread like this into a joke.

That's it. I will say no more. Unless someone really tee's themselves up for an asskicking.
posted by timsteil at 7:11 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


In WWI it has been estimated that around 25% of discharges were labelled 'psychiatric casualties' and the figure for WWII could be as high as 35%. In Korea, you were twice as likely to become a psychiatric casualty as to be killed by enemy fire. Soldiers returning from the Vietnam war, at least 54% claim to have suffered or to be suffering from PTSD (depends on what figures you have access to).
The Israeli army, known to many as some as the toughest fighters (depending on who you ask of course) are not immune. 30% of their casualties from the Yom Kippur war were pscychiatric cases.
As part of training courses I have attended regarding International Peace Operations and Humanitarian Interventions, there has been some very interesting work presented by Defence Psychs about PTSD - how unpredictable it is as to who will suffer, and how much. While it is more recognised now, and we are (hopefully) living in a society that is more willing to attempt to understand the pscyhological trauma suffered by those who are put in harrowing situations due to their job (not only combat - peace keeping missions can also have a heavy toll even when you are not called upon to shoot people) there is a long way to go.
posted by Megami at 7:27 PM on November 11, 2008


"At first glance the dead gunner appeared about to fire his deadly weapon. He still sat bolt upright in the proper firing position behind the breech of his machine gun. Even in death his eyes stared widely along the gun sights. Despite the vacant look of his dilated pupils, I couldn't believe he was dead. Cold chills ran along my spine. Gooseflesh tickled my back. It seemed as though he was looking through me into all eternity, that at any instant he would raise his hands—which rested in a relaxed manner on his thighs—grip the handles on the breech, and press the trigger. The bright shiny brass slugs in the strip clip appeared as ready as the gunner, anxious to speed out, to kill, and to maim more of the 'American devils.' But he would rot, and they would corrode. Neither he nor his ammo could do any more for the emperor.

The crown of the gunner's skull had been blasted off, probably by one of our automatic weapons. His riddled steel helmet lay on the deck like a punctured tin can. The assistant gunner lay beside the gun. Apparently he had just opened a small green wooden chest filled with strip clips of machine-gun cartridges when he was killed. Several other Japanese soldiers, ammo carriers, lay strung out at intervals behind the gun....

...I noticed a fellow mortarman sitting next to me. He held a handful of coral pebbles in his left hand. With his right hand he idly tossed them into the open skull of the Japanese machine gunner. Each time his pitch was true I heard a little splash of rainwater in the ghastly receptacle. My buddy tossed the coral chunks as casually as a boy casting pebbles into a puddle on some muddy road back home; there was nothing malicious in his action. The war had so brutalized us that it was beyond belief."

E.B. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peliliu and Okinawa.
posted by stargell at 7:39 PM on November 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


When I picked up my kids at school....a couple of the parents in the parking lot took a couple steps back like I was freaking them out or something.

My kids here in California got the day off of school, which again I found odd since Remembrance Day hasn't been a school holiday since forever. Does this vary across the US?
posted by GuyZero at 7:39 PM on November 11, 2008


Arlington.
posted by cenoxo at 7:50 PM on November 11, 2008


Okay.

My dad is a 'Nam vet. He was an officer in 5th and 7th Special Forces. Lt. Colonel. D. C. Christensen. When I was a kid the man was always bigger than life. But I suppose most kids feel that way about their dads. But in many ways he was really bigger. From a family of the west. A family of some real tough ranchers, farmers and hard scrabble Mormons used to scratching out a life in the wilderness. And he was in the Green Beret. So it's only now I realize my childhood was not typical.

I've told the story of eating iguana at Christmas when we were stationed in Panama. I've told the stories of how, when my family was stationed in Vietnam, I was conceived during a Vietcong mortar attack on the local theater thus predisposing me to behaving soft spot for agrarian Marxism and Ho Chi Min. But this story is after this larger than life man got back from the war. And he was broken.

My father last tour in 'Nam the family got to spend living in Europe. In England.We were there before he got his last set of orders and he didn't want to uproot us. He knew the Army, and Nixon, was desperate. So he played them for all he was worth. Keeping us in the best off-base housing in a little village in England while he went and helped with the pullout of the Special Forces guys in 'Nam.

When the war looked to be over the jig was up. He called us and told us the Army wanted us the hell out of there and back in the States. He would meet us in New Jersey and we would drive, another typical army family long cross continental drive, all the way to Denver. The Army wouldn't even pay for a through flight.

We were used to this sort of thing. But I imagine my mother wasn't happy. Coordinating moving from over-seas three kids (two totally uncompromising teenagers and me, a little scrawny weirdo) and a dog and meeting up with the man she loved without so much as the guarantee of a roof over our heads. The man she had not seen in almost two years. But it was such a relief to know he was finally safe after dreaming , every single night while he was gone, that a bullet had found him. Or worse.

It's true. As a kid I dreamt about my dad nearly every single night while he was gone. Horrible dreams of death in the wet green places of the world. And sometimes I'd sleep with a picture becuase I couldn't remember his face sometimes.

Anyway. When we finally got to the airport in the states my dad had been there for a couple weeks, actually. I've learned that was becuase he needed so much medical treatment. And he needed time to decompress. A thing they never told us until we were grown up. But my mom and us ids we hadn't seen him until that moment. It was weird. We had been so "typical" on the trip. Bickering. Petulant. But then you could feel the man presence at the gate. My sister, who'd dropped acid nearly every day of her senior year had become a serious problem child to point of even joining a cult briefly, was first to run to him and I couldn't see him. There were so many people. When you a kid all you see is legs. And then the crowd parted and clapped a little. My mom and my dad were kissing. A soldier and his wife. Kissing. Like high schoolers. But there was something. Something wrong. And when she let go and he bent down toward me I was a little afraid.

The man I knew was so diminished. He was a skull set on top of stick placed inside a baggy dress uniform. His eyes were watery and so hollow. The pale blue of them glowed in the dark of the sockets.

I could smell his Bay Rum aftershave over mildew. I could feel the rough sunburned skin of his face against me. His arms were iron. And my fear melted.

"I got you a Robot in Hong Kong." He said. And out of his bad he pulled a the toy. And walked all five us to go get our dog out of quarantine.

Two cars. The VW Van we shipped back from England and the American Motors Ambassador he bought from his "blood money." Two cars and a family of six. Inclusing Ralph, our spaniel. That was our caravan. There are many stories I could tell about that drive to Denver. (Like my dad liberating our dog himself— regardless of the official quarantine for shipping pets. And nobody stopped him going back to the pet shipping area. And he called "Ralph!" only twice before our dog's distinctive howl brought my dad right to him and he pulled open the crate bare handed and walked the dog out the door without a leash or so much as signing a form. Nobody was gonna fuck with him.) But I'm gonna skip ahead.

He was not well. He would witch and jump and the slightest sound. He could only drive a few hours at a time and he'd get confused and would need to go into the back of the VW van and sleep. He had terrible fevers and would yell in his sleep.

When we got to Denver my dad had a couple of months before he started his job and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. His new less stressful job helping America prepare for thermonuclear war. It was big of the Army to give him a couple of months down time.

We had standing orders. If dad leaves the house alert mom no matter where she was. But he never left the house. He spent most of is in the basement of our house on Hudson Street in Denver, sleeping int he cool dark. Occasionally we'd see him in his bathrobe, like a ghost, awake just long enough to grab some food out of the fridge. Or sometimes he would soak in the tub for a couple of hours. Until the water would get so cold he would be blue. He's sit in the freezing water. Staring. Until my mom would gently bring him round and help him back to bed. But he'd always get up in the middle of the night and pace the house. And then go to the basement to sleep during the day.

Except one day. It was the fourth of July. My mother told us to look out for him. To remind him of what day it was and there was gonna be fireworks. She had warned the nieghbors. A couple of days previous a neighbor kid shot off a bottle rocket over our garage while we were watching TV. All I remember is my dad running in grabbing my mother over his shoulder and throwing her down on top of us and pulled the couch over on all five of us while dog barked. That was just a sample.

My mom had gone and collected an array of tranquilizers. Which he took by the fist full. With whiskey. It made his eyes swim around in his head. And it made him deliriously happy.

He would sometimes dance little jigs in the kitchen with the dog or who ever was handy. And sing randomly from musicals like Oliver or Paint Your Wagon. "Eyeeeeeee Wazzzz buh-orrrnnn under a wah-drenn Starrr!" At the top of his lungs and happy as a clam. He would give me my allowance. 10 times per day. We'd shoot baskets for hours on end. Him in his bathrobe and cowboy boots.

But it was near the fourth of July. And then a firecracker would go off. And he rush through the house to find a bomb shelter. Or to look for his war kit. Some times when there was a couple of bangs he dive behind a couch and from behind it would bark orders at me and my friends,while we sat watching cartoons, to "quit fucking around and start returning fire!" Luckily my mom had had the for-thought to hide his ammo and clips.

This sounds cruel. But honestly, just being a kid, I thought this was hilarious. So I'd bring friends over to watch. Unfortunately my our closest neighbor kid was Micheal Yim. An Asian kid. My dad would occasionally speak to him in Vietnamese. "I'm Korean." Micheal would say, annoyed. My dad would reply "Wrong war." One other thing we would do is just say "Nixon." And no matter what room in the house he was in he would yell "GOD DAMNED NIXON!" No matter how many times you did it, he would yell back, like an angry echo, "GOD DAMNED NIXON!" We'd do this until my mother would herd us out side. "Jesus Wept! Don't you have anything better to do."

The fourth passed with only a couple more incidents. But through it I had amassed quite a war chest of ill-gotten allowance money. And I was living large. I go across the street to a little drug store, Oscars Drugs, and buy cokes and cookies for everybody in the neighbor hood (there is related story of years earlier of me finding a large sum of cash under my parent bed — my dad was acting paymaster for a few months— that I then treated all the neighborhood girls to ice cream from the ice cream man).

The coke machine was a central gathering point on hot days. All the kids would lean their bikes next to it and we would drink our cokes while shot the shit or we dared each other to run across the lava-hot black top of the drugstore parking lot barefoot. This coke machine was kind that had bottles that you pulled out. Bottled coke was so much better.

One day I put in my quarter. Nothing. The bottle would pull free. No biggie. I was LOADED. So I put in another. Wouldn't budge. So I put in another. Nada. I was out of quarters. This was common with this particular machine. We had complained to the drug store but he had ignored us. So I said let's go get some more money from my dad. So we rode back home.

All the meds my dad had been on had run their course and at this point started to conflict with each other in his brain. It being the early seventies he compensated with more booze. My dad sat in the basement watching foot ball with the sound off. We came running down stairs and I worked up some tears.

"Dad. The coke machine stole my money!"

He looked at me and his face just began to vibrate. Vibrate red. "WHAT!"

"The c..coke machine at Oscars stole me quarter and..."

"The HELL it did! This mother fucker will not STAND! Show me this machine!" He yelled.

My friends started to back away and run up the stairs. You could almost hear the gaskets blowing in my dads noodle.

"Uh... the one just across the street at Oscars!"

"SON OF A BITCH!" And he was off. It was like all the injustice of the world was at that drug store and had to be confronted. He was out the door before I could get up the stairs. I heard it slam.

We had standing orders to get mom. But there was dad. In his bathrobe and cowboy boots marching to war with the Coke Machine across the street. He had escort of neighborhood kids n bikes flanking him. My plan had backfired.

"MOM!"

She came out from the backyard where she had been hanging laundry or something. And I just pointed out the window to my dad had now just about to reach the corner by the drug store.

"Oh dear" She said.

I ran after him. But by the time I rounded the corner my father was already in middle of landing dozens of punches to the coke machine. While he swore at it and told it that one way or another he was gonna get his kids quarter back and why not make easy on everybody and just hand over the coke.

Then he started with the drop kicks. He'd run at the machine and kick it with his whip thin skeletal white legs. Oddly my greatest fear was that the neighbor hood would catch a glimpse of his testicles through his robe and loose boxer shorts. Apparently they were more transfixed by the ever escalating violence he was perpetrating on the Cocoa Cola Company. Punch. Punch. Kick. Kick. And occasionally head butt.

My mom got there. About the same time as the cops and the drug store owner. My mom spoke gently to him. The cops just stood back as one of the nieghbors informed them that my dad was a 'Nam Vet. They just stood back like " Hey. We're good." Waiting for my father to gas out.

However the coke machine broke before that happened. And my dad started pulling out bottles and handing them to all the little kids who had gathered. "YAAAAAAAY! Mr. CHRISTENSEN! YAAAAYYYY!" They yelled. To them he was the coolest folk hero ever.

Some change spilled out. My dad picked up a coin and gave it to me.

"Buy them from some place else next time."

And he walked home, a skeleton in a bathrobe and cowboy boots, with the entire neighborhood in awe. The cops just let him go. My mom had her checkbook already out.
posted by tkchrist at 10:10 PM on November 11, 2008 [701 favorites]


Man, I remember when my dad came home from Vietnam. Thanks, tkchrist!
posted by bonefish at 12:12 AM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Holy shit tkchrist.

Just holy shit.

That's one great story. And well written too.


Thanks for sharing.
posted by Mephisto at 12:52 AM on November 12, 2008


Holy fuck, tkchrist. As a current active duty servicemember, thank you so much for sharing that. Thank you.
posted by SeanMac at 2:39 AM on November 12, 2008


Thanks. After reading the first line the sad goth in me had to put on Combichrist, listen, occasionally let go of my mouse, to point and really want to go out dancing.

Combichrist - This Is My Rifle (youtube)
posted by 13twelve at 3:06 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thank a Vet.....go buy a Vet a beer or whatever. I doubt that either would not be appreciated at face level, but with the silent understanding from the Vet that this is pretty much like sending your mailman a Xmas card.

Really? Well, fuck it, then, I guess. If we're not going to somehow make the world perfect for him, what's the point, huh?

Thanks very much for that story, tkchrist.
posted by languagehat at 5:57 AM on November 12, 2008


Fantastic story, thanks, tkchrist.
posted by Atreides at 6:39 AM on November 12, 2008


Wow tkchrist... thanks for sharing.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2008


Holy crap. You are wasted on this site, tkchrist. Wasted. Please let me know when your book tour comes to my town.
posted by GuyZero at 9:46 AM on November 12, 2008


Thanks, tkchrist. Made my day.

(BTW - Tammy Duckworth? Brave, noble, all that, yes. Also? Cute as a button. I mean she’s adorable like a box full of puppies.)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:32 AM on November 12, 2008


tkchrist, thanks.
posted by rtha at 1:29 PM on November 12, 2008


My father was a Marine and fought in Vietnam. Like thousands of other Vietnam Vets, he killed himself.

PTSD sucks. Mentally ill vets are not very funny.
posted by spork at 1:33 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


tkchrist tells the best stories ever. ever. ever.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:36 PM on November 12, 2008


“Mentally ill vets are not very funny.”

Well, y’know, it is and it isn’t. I think most people see the humor in the very human experiences there with the recognition of the tragic realities.
And, yeah, that is life.

Sure, some comments are just thoroughly stupid.

But I think tkchrist was sharing an essential reality there. I don’t think he was going for a cheap laugh or even looking to make a point.
He was sharing the truth of his experience, and by extension, his fathers.
I think it’s the kind of thing that needs to be heard instead of all the ‘rah ‘rah crap we get at ceremonies and such.

Just the basic human experience.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:51 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


I’ll add - I admire his courage.

I have some stories, but I don’t have the kind of balls to share them. I don’t know how it would affect me. Some things still hurt. Some are intensely private. Some hell, I don’t even know that I can talk about.

There are still things I haven’t told my wife, therapist, nobody.

I think that isolation isn’t any good for anyone. I think that’s why a lot of vets kill themselves.

And even as I know that - I’m still not doing anything about it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:56 PM on November 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


"SON OF A BITCH!" And he was off.

That was fucking hilariously awesome.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:50 PM on November 12, 2008


It was a good story, but I didn't find it funny at all. It must have been hard on you to grow up with that, tkchrist, and I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for your father.

Thanks for sharing.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:37 PM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


It reads like something out of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. Thanks for sharing, tkchrist.
posted by nihraguk at 6:44 PM on November 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


It was a good story, but I didn't find it funny at all. It must have been hard on you to grow up with that, tkchrist, and I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for your father.

That's becuase your a grown up.

Kids see things through another lens. I admit I was afraid of dad occasionally, but he was a great guy. His PTSD episode only lasted about a year or two and most of that was exacerbated by all the medicine the Army gave him. Remember he wasn't drafted. He was career military.

Also to him, and the rest of the family, they had fond memories of the first tour in the early 1960's in Vietnam when he was an adviser. His second tour was around Tet and that got pretty bad - I think his job then was setting relays for the B-52's that were heading up north as he was attached to Signal Corp. But I'm not super sure about that.

But his third was the worst and he doesn't tell as many stories from that time and I'm not entirely clear what his job really was. But I know he saw allot more guys die.

What he used to talk about was how proud he was of how little action he actually saw. He felt that if guys were shooting at him he must have done something terribly wrong.

Anyway. Rest assured the guy has had a very happy retirement. Fishing in Patagonia and Alaska, skiing and playing golf. Your hard earned tax dollars are going likely going towards sending my dad and his old buddies fly fishing or rafting in Montana. I wouldn't feel too sorry for the lucky bastards.
posted by tkchrist at 6:52 PM on November 12, 2008 [6 favorites]


beautiful tender touching personal story tkchrist [sniff]
posted by seawallrunner at 9:01 PM on November 12, 2008


Yeah, I saw your post in the other thread, tkchrist. I'm glad your dad was able to get over whatever happened, I really am.

As a kid, I'm sure it was hilarious, all I was saying was that to hear the story as an adult, and not to know how it turned out for your dad, it seemed pretty sad.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:26 PM on November 12, 2008


"Wrong war."

Made my night.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:36 AM on November 13, 2008


"Wrong war."
There's another kind?

Great story, tkchrist. Lovely.
posted by dg at 2:07 AM on November 13, 2008


I read the final sentence of the first paragraph in the post as "there is no enemy but peace."

.

Great post, great story from tchrist. So glad I went into MeTa this morning (I don't usually) or I'd have missed this post and thread.
posted by nax at 5:43 AM on November 13, 2008


.
posted by jwells at 5:44 AM on November 13, 2008


Damn, tkchrist, great story.

I've seen the back-and-forth in this thread about glorying war, acknowledging vets, dealing with PTSD, and what have you, and this sentence jumped out:

In short- war does fucked up things to people, but people who go through war are by no means any more fucked up than those who don't.

And I think, at the heart of it all, this is something we can all agree on -- war does fucked up things to some people. War, even the most ethically and universally justifiable war, is fucked up. People who experience it see things they never thought they would, do things they never thought they would, hear things they never thought they would, and experience things they never thought they would. And no one who has not also been a soldier would understand. The only people who would understand are other soldiers -- and it doesn't matter where those soldiers are from, either. Whether you are from a grass-roots guerrilla army or a nationally-organized military unit, you are still doing some things that something deep, deep in our cortexes is telling us is "kinda fucked-up, here".

They may not be any more shaken than those who experience other crises. But -- the things that shook them are unique to Veterans. I've even heard that soldiers in ancient Rome had trouble with PTSD -- every so often one of the military leaders had to take a guy aside and sort of let him...decompress.

...I only know/knew two veterans -- my paternal grandfather, who was in the South Pacific in World War II, and who never really talked about it (it seems he missed out on the worst of things, but could also just have been glossing it over and keeping some things to himself) and a family friend who had been to Vietnam and who seemed pretty okay, but who also made himself a plywood cutout of a Viet Cong soldier and kept it in one of the fields he had on his property and occasionally used the cutout for rifle target practice (although, now I wonder whether he may have been trying to exorcise other ghosts as well). As for my own father -- well, he didn't go to war, and my impending arrival was why. I wonder now what kind of conversations must have come to pass between my grandfather and father about this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:57 AM on November 13, 2008




If you didn't laugh at it, you would have to cry. I think it's very much a male trait to leave another guy an out by making the story funny enough that it's ok to laugh. I think that it has a similar effect on people though. If you get to the point that you can laugh at your own stories that are sad inside, then I think you can become a better person. I think it might be dangerous to the sanity of a man to cry too much.

I'd like to nth the thanks to tkchrist for telling the story.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:22 PM on November 13, 2008


Holy shit tkchrist. Your dad is the real life Walter Sobchak.
posted by LilBucner at 1:31 PM on November 13, 2008


Except for the being really thin part.
posted by tizzie at 3:34 PM on November 13, 2008


Mentally ill vets are not very funny.

It's sad what war does to people. But speaking as a war survivor myself, you have to laugh, you just have to! When I read that (great) story, I wasn't sure whether I identified more with tkchrist or his dad, but I laughed my ass off. I hope terribly that his dad eventually got a bit better and could find the story as funny as the rest of us do.

I still suffer from somewhat PTSD, though much less than in the first years after the war. But of all the trauma I must have caused people around me when I was having serious problems, I know I never caused anyone to laugh as hard as tkchrist's dad caused him to laugh. I say that with sincerity and regret . . . if war's going to make someone "blow the gaskets" in his or her "noodle," you might as well do it with some real flair!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not sure if anyone is still down here, but Lee Sandlin's excellent, excellent Losing The War talks about PTSD and veternals and war and everything else.
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, tkchrist—from the kid of one Vietnam-era vet to another... thanks for that story.
posted by limeonaire at 1:46 PM on November 15, 2008


Thanks for sharing that, tkchrist. Your words painted such vivid images in my head. That last part made me both smile and cry. Im glad to hear your dad is doing well now and is enjoying life.
posted by Merik at 8:14 PM on November 15, 2008


Great story tkchrist. So what happens afterwards? Did he recover? Was life ever normalized?
posted by blahblah at 3:00 PM on November 18, 2008


I admit that even after learning that creed, the grammarian in me wondered: is it "until there is no enemy, but peace" or "until there is no enemy but peace".

...

Important distinction. And one of those amusing thoughts that gets you giggling on a 0300 firewatch.
posted by Seeba at 9:43 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


~ Great story tkchrist. So what happens afterwards? Did he recover? Was life ever normalized?

"He turned out awesome."
posted by paisley henosis at 10:37 PM on November 19, 2008


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