Monday, May 31, 2010

On The Contrary (Repost)

Author Roy El Saghir was kind enough to grant me permission to re-post this article of his on my site. I hope you take the time to read it, a very engrossing and eye-opening piece that will leave you wondering about how the world really works.

The post was taken from Matthew Good's blog which I read every day, a fantastic source of foreign policy commentary and discussion. Roy El Saghir occasionally writes for Matt Good's site.



Many years ago I happened upon something that chills me to this day. The year was 1988 and I was a U.S. Army reservist on active duty, plodding through the last few weeks of my enlistment at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Westwood, California, a mere stone’s throw away from the effervescent campus of UCLA. I remember being in charge of some nameless menial task that one often gets assigned at the end of a tour of duty. During the course of my labor I got lost and took a wrong turn, down a wrong corridor, where I saw something astonishing…

Parked at the hallway’s end were five wheelchairs. The piercing late afternoon sunlight formed strange misshapen silhouettes around the figures as I approached them to ask directions. I assumed my eyes were playing tricks on me until I got close enough to realize that indeed they were not…

There before me sat five ancient gentlemen, so horrifically disfigured that they had been kept from public sight for the entirety of their adult lives. Their faces were devoid of any recognizable human features, tufts of hair sprouted from their heads in wild and uneven patches. Their sad dead eyes were the only remaining sign of their humanity…

These men had fought in World War I, and they had been severely burned, broken and exposed to mustard gas. Some of them had been warehoused here their entire lives, some were dumped upon the VA as their families either died off or were unwilling or unable to care for them any longer. These men had been living as monsters for 70 years, so physically repulsive that few people ever dared to engage them to see what beauty may have survived beneath their tortured exteriors…

It wasn’t until long after I was led away by a scolding orderly that it hit me. Most likely, these men had never kissed a girl, they had never made love, they had never held their own flesh and blood in their arms. They were denied the fruitful and happy lives we are all entitled to, in short, they were robbed of everything we might take for granted…

And for what? What caused World War I? Certainly not that old-standby line we were taught in our history books. You know the one, telling us of a Bosnian-Serb named Gavrilo Princip who shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne, and his wife, in Sarajevo in 1914.

On the contrary… these men suffered for the interests of economic imperialism, militarism, nationalism, corporatism, and global banking interests…

Fast forward to early 1992… I received a phone call from a high school friend telling me that a friend of ours was in dire straits. His name was Todd and he had just returned from the first Gulf War, where he had served as a helicopter mechanic. Within six months after the war Todd had developed a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball and it was growing rapidly and deemed inoperable. Every day it sapped another year of his life away until mercy took finally him in its icy grip. (It is interesting to note that several other members of Todd’s unit also died of various tumors shortly after redeploying stateside, but the Department of Defense refused to accept any responsibility… go figure…)

I have this old photograph of my high school friends seeing me off at an airport in 1984. I am proudly wearing my Army uniform. Among those friends was a 15 year old named Todd, and he wanted to be a soldier just like me. I told him to go for it, that serving his country in the military was an honorable thing to do…

I will feel guilty about that until I hit the bottom of my grave…

And what caused the first Gulf War? Certainly not that old-standby line we were fed by the mainstream media. You know the one, telling us of the evil Saddam invading helpless little Kuwait and threatening the poor innocent House of Saud.

On the contrary… Todd died for the interests of economic imperialism, militarism, nationalism, corporatism, and global banking interests…

Just last week I spent some time at the VA Hospital in Long Beach. I found it to be underfunded yet efficient, beaten yet strong, like a gray old battleship that refused to sink no matter how many hits it took to its bow. The staff was doing their best to serve the patients with dignity in the most trying of circumstances.

While at the VA I could not help but think of those World War I vets I saw in 1988, and Todd in 1992, And as I held those thoughts a grievously injured young man was wheeled past me, his weeping spouse in tow. I lifted my head and looked around at the all the crippled and broken men on crutches and in wheelchairs, the mentally ill, from the elderly to boys barely in their twenties, and it struck me clear as a bell, This was the damage done, this was the cost of doing business, we were all just means to an end…

And why were we all here? Certainly not that old-standby line we were taught in our homes, schools, and churches. You know the one, about duty, honor and country…

On the contrary, we had all fought for the interests of economic imperialism, militarism, nationalism, corporatism, and global banking interests…

Approximately 650,000 Americans have died fighting this country’s many wars over the last 110 years. Isn’t it time we respect their selfless sacrifice with the truth instead of pandering to their loved ones by mindlessly repeating the focus group tested bullshit line known as “they died for our freedom”? Maybe we need to stop lying about what it was they died for.

Is it just my jaded opinion, or is Memorial Day more about celebrating militarism than it is about honoring those who died in uniform? Or is it about crass commerce? After all, I understand there is a great white sale today at Linens and Things.

Trust me on this, the loved ones of the fallen don’t need a day to remind them of what they’ve lost. Every day is Memorial Day to them.

“The revulsion against war … will be an almost insuperable obstacle
for us to overcome. For that reason, I am convinced that we must begin
now to set the machinery in motion for a permanent wartime economy.”-
Charles E. Wilson (1886-1972) President of General Electric (1940-42,
1945-50), head of the Office of Defense Mobilization in 1951, US
Secretary of Defense (1953-57) – Source: internal memo, 1944

1 comment:

Mr. Nobody said...

Everyone who has a paid holiday on Remembrance day and Memorial day should donate their days wage 5to the Veterans.

Further they should still go to work and for that one day, give everything they have to increase their productivity.

Its the least they can do.