Ruminations on the crazy people we are, by a retired teacher/musician. Can't get the "requests" out of my system after years of barroom/lounge/restaurant/party gigs mining 100 years worth of the musical mother-lode.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Peace, Man

On this Memorial Day, I have seen a documentary about the past that is so rife with lessons for the present, it's uncanny. "Two Days in October" pairs two events in October of '67: an ambush of an American unit in the "iron triangle" in Vietnam, and a series of events involved in a student protest at the U. of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

The ambush was a slaughter. Officers and men who survived testify to that fact, with tears in their eyes. The men who died weren't just killed, they were torn to pieces by withering fire, as they followed their orders and walked into a thickly grown area with no ability to see what was ahead. It would have been worse, but that the North Vietnamese had a schedule to keep and had to move elsewhere.That would have been bad enough. What followed was doubly sad. Gen. Westmoreland, as he handed out Purple Hearts, asked what had happened. As the men told him of the ambush, he said, "No, no, it wasn't an ambush." Press releases led people to believe this was just part of a larger operation that was successful, an out and out lie. Bert Quint of CBS was interviewing survivors later, and those men were told by their senior officers NOT to use the word ambush. Right. The truth was never known at home.

The protest at U. of Wisconsin began as a peaceful sit-in, and ended up with the Chancellor of the University calling in the police, who interpreted this as a call to bang heads, which they did. Later statements by public officials referred to "outside agitators."

An interesting side aspect of the documentary is the opportunity to compare the efforts of the G.I.s and the students. The students' attitude and actions seem so small next to the suffering of the G.I.s. However, a UW prof who was on the scene put it well, when he said he had no quarrel with the G.I.s; they were performaing their duty as citizens, as they saw it, and so were the students.

The outstanding issue for us today, is that the lying continues: the Pat Tillman case, the recent Marine scandal in Iraq, and so on.

Two thoughts emerge: 1) the citizenry needs to assure that we have a government that is held accountable, and, 2) it is government's deepest responsibility TO MAKE PEACE HAPPEN! That is how to "protect the American people." A look at how the Civil War came about in this country shows a pathetic example of politicians quibbling for their own regional interests, and allowing the country to fall into a great, shameful bloodletting.
The terminal stupidity of Neville Chamberlain and his ridiculous comment that, having spoken with Mr.Hitler, we have secured "peace in our time." Oh yeah. There never really has been a Pax Americana, but if there is ever to be one, we need to secure better leadership than what we have now.

End of Ruminations for today, 5.31.06, Memorial Day.


At 7:40 AM, Anonymous late life pete said...

We don't seem to be able to learn from the past, do we? The futility of war has been proven over and over again. The cover-ups of presidential and congressional failures continue. Yet we keep sending incompetents and those with selfish agendas to represent us.

So, who would you say is to blame?

P.S. Your bio speaks of your interest in Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer. YOu have to be our kind of person.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Excellent post, especially the part about the citizenry keeping the government accountable (if only they would/could).


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