Dulce et decorum est.

When did it start? With Maya Lin’s Vietnam memorial? Let’s say it did. I know many of us are long-ish in the tooth here, and will remember how that design was greeted when it was revealed as the winner of the competition. It was “a black gash of shame,” a “ditch,” a slap in the face of veterans who survived that most complicated conflict, not to mention those who died there. And by a woman (!) with an Asian name (!!), no less. Splutter, splutter.

And then it was built, and opened, and the bitching stopped, replaced by sniffling. Who could look at the Vietnam memorial and not be moved? And what made it so? The names.

I’ve seen individual names before on monuments, but only on local ones. Had a national monument ever made the attempt to note every single soul lost in a conflict like this? And the design was perfectly suited for it — the shorter panels capturing the lost in the early years, and as you walked along, the panels got larger, the toll higher, peaking around 1968 or so, and then petering off as we lost our will to throw fresh bodies into that particular grinder, and drew down forces.

You’d think the memorial’s first year would have been enough to shut the critics up, but no — we started tarting it up immediately, so as to silence the various constituencies involved. First, a bunch of flags. Then, the bronze of the three soldiers (I guess for those who couldn’t read?). Then, the bronze of the nurses, so women weren’t forgotten. At the end, they couldn’t diminish the wall’s power. Because of the names. Because here, finally, you could see the final toll of our southeast Asian misadventure: That guy, that guy, that guy. Your brother, his dad, her cousin.

(Was this about the same time we stopped commemorating the prematurely or abruptly deceased with flowers on their headstones, and started doing so with flowers, and teddy bears, and other stuff, at the place where they died? I seem to remember it that way.)

After that, even after all the bitching and the retrofitting, it seemed unthinkable to erect another memorial without the names. Give Maya Lin that, along with all her other honors: She demolished the heroic tradition in war memorials. We’ll see no more bronze generals riding horses for a good long while.

The memorial for the Oklahoma City memorial went up with almost dismaying speed after that tragedy. I read a critical piece — by which I mean “criticism,” because “review” just sounds weird in this context — about it in one of the New York papers around the time it opened. The critic didn’t like it, and was very lucid in laying out his reasons, the biggest one being that you can go through the whole thing and never get any real sense of why this event happened. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols are in there, but the context in which they made their attack — the paranoid right wing politics that were floating around talk radio at the time — is nowhere to be found. The critic made a strong case that a certain amount of time needs to pass before we can fully understand these things, and that the people with the most fraught emotions should not be too involved. They have crazy ideas — like that the very mention of the perpetrators of tragedies shouldn’t have their photos anywhere in the building.

But come on — if you can’t keep a plot in Oklahoma City empty for a few years, how are you going to do the same thing in lower Manhattan? And the events of September 11, 2001 dwarf OKC. There was no way a 9/11 memorial wasn’t being built in our lifetimes, but it was equally certain that getting it done would be a monster.

The memorial, by itself, was the easy part. The museum, now, that’s another matter:

It seemed self-evident at the time: A museum devoted to documenting the events of Sept. 11, 2001, would have to include photographs of the hijackers who turned four passenger jets into missiles. Then two and a half years ago, plans to use the pictures were made public.

New York City’s fire chief protested that such a display would “honor” the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center. A New York Post editorial called the idea “appalling.” Groups representing rescuers, survivors and victims’ families asked how anyone could even think of showing the faces of the men who killed their relatives, colleagues and friends.

The anger took some museum officials by surprise.

“You don’t create a museum about the Holocaust and not say that it was the Nazis who did it,” said Joseph Daniels, chief executive of the memorial and museum foundation.

It’s happening all over again. Maybe this is why we put up all those bronze generals — unanimity. But now we have this culture of memorializing where everybody gets named, and everybody gets a voice and a vote, and an implicit promise that they’ll see the finished product before too many years pass. We’ve also learned that designs are only literally set in stone, but they’re always able to change something.

I’m not sure what I’m groping for here, except maybe that the critic of the OKC memorial was onto something — it’s too soon. We won’t know what we need to say about 9/11 for another generation at least. But this is Manhattan real estate we’re talking about here, and you don’t leave that vacant for long.

Or maybe it’s just the Nyquil talking.

Looks like Scott Walker will live to fight another day. Disappointing, but not surprising.

Have a good Wednesday, all. It’s the middle of the week. I hope my ears unplug by then.

Posted at 12:33 am in Current events |

80 responses to “Dulce et decorum est.”

  1. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 3:49 am

    On the bright side, the Dems won the Wisconsin senate. And Walker’s damaged goods who might yet find his slimy ass in the hoosegow. And I need to quit waking at this hour to whiz. Damn it sucks getting old.

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  2. JWfromNJ said on June 6, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I’m not sure I agree with the Propritess on “too soon.” I’m not sure what I think. Part of me thinks you can’t seperate the memorial – which exists now as a stark list of names above a reflection pool – and the museum. I haven’t been there yet but as a child of the tri-state area I have two names down there I’d call close friends, about ten more I’d call people I know, and at least another 2-3 who dodged the bullet and their names aren’t there. We’ll start with Christopher Sean Caton, but no one called him that. He was Sean, Seany, or just Caton. He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. I tried to be our high school class clown but Caton always one-upped me. And he was really funny, and brillant. And like me he skated through high school. We were proud to be in the triple digit club – the folks who could have been in the top 10% yet opted for the life of leisure and class rankings below 100 in a class of 143.
    I talked to Sean after the first WTC bombing. He told me it sucked, he goofed as he walked down 102 stories, and led dozens of his coworkers toward that beckoning beer call. No big deal, he said. They tried to kill us and we got drunk.
    They never found a single piece of him, and there are few anecdotes about his loss. I subscribe to the theory that he was fearless, hugging coworkers, telling them the beer was waiting for them, this was nothing new. We know he didn’t jump. I can’t imagine what he was thinking when so many others did.
    Then there was Jeremy Glick. Flight 93. I didn’t know him as well as Sean but he was a constant in my world for a few years as a hanger on and party pal, whose girlfriend (and later wife Lyz)was best friends with my friend STeven. I have trouble reconciling Jeremy the man with Jeremy the boy, and the story of Flight 93. But Jeremy was everything he has been described as.
    My circle of friends had a six degrees of seperation moment from Flight 93. One of us who later moved to San Francisco and founded a web development company was Mark Bingham’s friend and roomate. So we realized if those two had talked they would have said, wow Andy Smith, how cool is that.
    My hometown lost 11 residents that day. They were prepared for much more. Glen Rock, NJ, has a unique distiction of having two train stations two blocks apart, one on the Bergen County Line, and one on the Bergen Main Line. Twice the options for people wanting to live in a great small town yet work in NYC. The police had more than 75 cars in the station lots that night – people who didn’t make it home. They sent officers to each family, and clergy, and did an inventory. 11 never came home, and that doesn’t count Sean or others who moved to places like Hoboken to be closer to work. But it did include parishners from my mom’s church, my sister’s softball coach Real people who never came home.
    But to say too soon…. In 2002 they were already toting steel beams, smashed and melted compter monitors and shattered firefighter helments around the region to raise money for this museum. I thought that was too soon, but people lined up by the hundreds at county fairs and small town ballfields to see the stuff.
    I just recently had an encounter with Rescue 4, and wrote about it. Way down here in FLorida I saw the tears and the anguish as retired NYFD guys saw the truck and remembered guys who never came home that day. People pulled to the side of U.S. 1 to hold their hands over their hearts as the only firetruck to survive 9-11 rolled past.


    So we’ve been remembering that day – but not without intertwining the stories of those lost. Now we need to tell the stories of those we almost lost. The stories of families who endured hours of weighing the worst, the stories of people like Sean’s family who never got their boy back. And yes, we do need to keep the terrorists in the terrorism. I always will remember my son who was 9 at the time telling me, “They were bad, but they were brave.” If a child could see that, and Bill Maher could see that, we need to acknowledge if not honor, never honor, that these 19 could bring America to it’s knees, drive home our worst fears, and also bring out the best in us. I am proud of how my city stood tall – in many ways we stood taller than the rest of the country.
    My sister in law called us to report gas prices topping $8 gallon in Ft. Wayne. Do you know nothing like thar happened in NY or NJ. I’m sorry to go on for so long, but I haven’t even started. The stories of millions of us ring similar. cousins crying that they lost their shoes, and were in Chinatown, and didn’t know how they were getting home that night, when aunts had the phonebook open to funeral homes. That’s what we need to remember, becuase while these are the stories of peopl I know, they are not unique.

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  3. Deborah said on June 6, 2012 at 4:36 am

    Very moving JW, well said. Thanks.

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  4. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 6:35 am

    JW, not sure where your in-law got her information, but this should put her mind at ease.

    What Deborah said. Your insightful son affirms my belief that Maher got railroaded for telling truth to power. Too bad that as a washed-up act on cable where he’s free to say anything, he has become an off-putting provocateur who’s not all that funny. When he defended Limbaugh earlier this year for the Sandra Fluke incident, I was astounded. Here’s a guy whose career was ruined over an innocent remark coming to the aid of someone who, in a just world, would have been boiled in oil.

    Some levity, even in the face of disappointment.

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  5. ROGirl said on June 6, 2012 at 7:03 am

    It seems like history used to be told more impersonally. It focused on events and leaders (i.e., D-Day, Eisenhower, the Holocaust), but now it also looks at groups that had been overlooked before (women and blacks), and I think that naturally leads to individuals. Plus, we are memorializing very recent events, which as has become apparent, brings its own set of problems. And now that we have started down this path it’s become the model. Maybe Maya Lin was articulating something that was already in the zeitgeist.

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  6. Joe Kobiela said on June 6, 2012 at 7:16 am

    I should let this pass but I just can’t. Last night late I posted a short note about the airborne jumping into theNormandy night. Drift back over and read response #42. I’ll never reply to anything this gutless piece of shit says. I suggest he reply that way to a airborne veteran and see what happens..
    pilot joe

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  7. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 7:31 am

    C’mon, guys. I like you both. Don’t fight. Shoot some zingers but put the heavy artillery away.

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 6, 2012 at 7:52 am

    JW, thank you. Marvelously said.

    I’m doing a funeral this afternoon for a young woman who sent her new husband off into the Splinter Fleet of the North Atlantic right after their wedding, 68 years ago. Her sacrifice, and sorrows, even though she got her subchaser boy home, are part of what I want to try to memorialize this afternoon, along with a tip of the hat to a near-deaf fellow in his 90s sitting in the front row, waiting now patiently to join her at that big Grange Hall dance out there beyond the sunset.

    And actually, Cooze, I get it. We have to be skeptical of being too easily sentimental about death and dying no matter what the cause or circumstance (as in the proprietor’s caption today, by way of Owen’s riff on Horace’s dangerous truism). To honor, to remember, and even to be braced for needing to do it all again, but prepared in such a way as to motivate us in our preparing to use it to do all that’s in our power to NOT end up where guns and bombs and knives and garrottes and wooden 110 foot ships in heavy seas, and equally young men 200 feet below your keel sweat in cold, thin, dirty air, hoping your next spread pattern is another hundred yards ahead, and not on top of their tin can.

    True warriors don’t relish war (though they may love training, almost a little too much), and they are passionate for peace. And they honor the dead, but usually pretty quietly. Your db may vary.

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  9. beb said on June 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I think what makes the Vietnam Memorial work is that it is exactly what the critics claim of it – “a black gash of shame.” Vietnam brought no honor to our country, achieved no great goal, There will always be a small handful of people who will refuse to believe that we fought a pointless war, or that we got my butts kicked by a bunch of peasants, but that’s what happened. So when you come to the memorial all you see is an endless gravestone for the loss our country took by going over there.

    The last time we were in DC we went to the memorial that’s across the Reflecting Pool and slightly down the mall from the Vietnam Memorial. I can’t recall if it was for Korea or WWII. It didn’t move me at all. In fact it struck me as kind of pretentious. We don’t needs separate memorials for each war we’ve been in when we’ve already got Arlington Cemetery. The sheer size of the place, filled to over-flowing with row after row of small standardized slab markers (not crosses Mr. Cheney!) tells us all we need to know about war.

    I have no idea when the tradition began of leaving teddy bears and such at the places where people had been killed. I think it was a lot later than the Vietnam Memorial. But I think the idea of no pictures of the murderers came with the death of John Lennon. The idea was to deny his killer the place in history that he had so obviously sought by killing Lennon. But it seems crazy to build a museum to 9/11 and not show the pictures of the terrorists. That would be like building a museum to the Civil War and not having any people of slaves, when slavery was the proximate cause of the war. Or of having a Holocaust museum without pictures of the Concentration Camps. A museum is supposed to offer context to what it’s preserving, not hide away half of what happened because it offenses someone delicate sensibility.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on June 6, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thank you JW, for your beautiful tribute. I don’t know anyone who died on 9/11, and I didn’t know anyone who died in Vietnam, but knowing their life stories helps me remember they weren’t just numbers.

    And I think we can all dial down our rhetoric. I’d hate to see this community become the typical no-you’re-an-idiot comment section I see elsewhere.

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  11. Dave said on June 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Alex, not to pick at anyone’s post but I believe JWfromNJ was referring to the gasoline price in Fort Wayne after 9/11, not the current price.

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  12. coozledad said on June 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

    It wasn’t the Republicans’ war, Joe. FDR virtually had to go it alone because the militarists here had big erections for everything Hitler did. If they’d been preparing to fight him, like the “premature anti-fascists” who fought Franco, we’d have kicked his ass before he could get his troops on the train to France.
    Don’t lecture me about history, dookie drawers.
    I grew up listening to a steel disc recording of my uncle reciting Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” speech, which never mentioned giving the military a blowjob, not once. This would be the uncle who probably died at the hands of some rightwad from East Prussia who worshiped the military.

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  13. brian stouder said on June 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

    A month or two ago, I read this essay, which addresses the same issue, and praises the Vietnam Memorial while criticizing the addition of statues of women as political-correctness-run-amok(!)


    Quibbles aside (and there are several) it is an interesting take on this same subject. As for me, I find the placement of memorials interesting. For example, our Vietnam memorial would literally make no sense if it were built in Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City); on the other hand, Ho Chi Minh City almost surely has its own memorials and preserved sites, just as Gettysburg PA does.

    But if you go to Gettysburg, you will find that the sites and displays (a sort of hands-on, ground-level memorial, in itself) get updated and STILL cause controversy…and the attackers are fully memorialized (and glorified) there, to the extent that heated debate still occurs over any memorial that dares address “WHY?” the attackers there attacked. A century and a half later, and some numbers of people will still argue against the idea that the Civil War began over slavery, and that slavery has NO PLACE in any memorial at (for example) Gettysburg.

    Maybe memorials at actual sites should be minimalist, since it really is only saying “You are Here” (especially in NYC), while a memorial monument in a memorial city (like Washington DC) is freer to address universal issues.

    Possibly the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville will be the go-to place for context, while NYC should look more at the universal

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  14. Bitter Scribe said on June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

    A lot of people don’t seem to understand that courage, like intelligence, is a morally neutral quality that can be used for good or evil. A lot of history’s greatest monsters, from Tamerlane to Hitler, were men of great personal courage; it was their courage that enabled them to cause as much trouble as they did. But we’ve been conditioned by John Wayne movies to think that all brave people are good and all evil people are cowards.

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  15. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Well, Dave, that’s what I get for firing off stuff before I’ve fully awakened. I had no idea gas prices were that high in Fort Wayne at that time, but then I wasn’t living here at the time either.

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  16. coozledad said on June 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Bitter Scribe: Any vet will tell you that some of the most astounding acts of personal bravery are performed by absolute scumbags. Not giving a shit is a big factor in being able to hose down a bunch of people with an automatic weapon.
    It has nothing to do with moral equilibrium.

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  17. Dorothy said on June 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Thank you for your sad and solemn words, JW. And all this talk about memorials reminds me of being at the Vietnam one in DC about 5 weeks ago and hearing a man tell his granddaughter the meaning of the flowers, notes and other mementos along the wall. (I’m repeating myself, I know, but it seems a good day to do it.) She innocently asked him “So everybody loves everybody then?” A good reminder that we all need to be careful of how we speak to each other here (ditto Julie @10). I’m guilty of mouthing off here once in awhile when I’m in a mood,and I apologize for that. But I stop here frequently to learn from you all and be inspired by you. When it starts to get snotty I feel bad for everyone, and not just the targets of the snottiness.

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  18. JWfromNJ said on June 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Alex – I was referring to gas prices on September 11, 2001, when some stations elsewhere in the country briefly danced with price gouging – saying that didn’t happen in the NY-NJ region.

    You guys are still getting hosed on gas prices – at least in comparison to Florida. I paid $3.36/gallon on Friday, and it’s about the same today. But that whole post was about that day, and all the memories that so many of us – everywhere in the world – have.

    I went into Manhattan five days later via the GW Bridge. The pit was still burning. The news media had been telling people going into the city via the bridge NOT to look south. Dozens of serious car wrecks had happened. I purposly choose the lower deck, I knew if I stayed to the inside and didn’t gawk it would be safer, and there was less traffic. Between soldiers with M-16’s and dogs everywhere it took forever to pass throught the toll plaza. They had huge scanners for trucks, and lots of random checks.

    So once we’re on the span, I’m really trying to be good. The guy to my right looks right, you couldn’t help but see the plumes, and yeah, our skyline is altered. Then the guy STOPS, just stops. Sure enough he gets rear ended and the guy behind gets rear ended. I just kept driving.

    I don’t remember specifics but I do know there were a few fatalities from crashes like that – the one I saw didn’t seem as bad, but people managed to lose their lives looking at our city’s loss.

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  19. DellaDash said on June 6, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Didn’t expect to get my heartstrings twanged this morning, but your memorial has twanged ’em to tears, JWfromNJ.

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  20. Jeff Borden said on June 6, 2012 at 10:28 am

    One of the most moving memorials I’ve ever seen was in Prague. A Jewish community center in the old section of the city, emptied of everything but the names of the Jews who were rounded up and sent to the camps written in an elegant, old world-style script with dates of birth and death affixed. More poignant still was a small exhibit at the entrance, which detailed how a schoolteacher kept the Jewish children busy and engaged through their art work, which was on display. At the end of the walk through the community center, you learned which children had survived the camps and which had perished. There are thousands of names on those walls. . .and they speak more powerfully than any memorial sculpture. Johanna and I were silent and weeping for a good half-hour after wandering out and through the tiny Jewish cemetery, where the good Christians had assigned them so little space that headstones are stacked upon headstones.

    I don’t want to wade too deeply into the words exchanged by Pilot Joe and Coozledad. I wrote on Facebook on Memorial Day of thinking of my father, whose life was forever altered when he was drafted while attending the University of Arkansas studying engineering. He gave up more than three years of his life serving with the Big Red One and never earned his college degree, but he never complained. All of my uncles served. . .every single one. I think the feat the United States accomplished in fighting a two-front war against implacable enemies and winning decisively is quite fucking amazing, though I believe even that feat is dwarfed by our post-war efforts in Europe and Asia, when our better angels led us to help rebuild. My father never, ever spoke of the war until very late in his life, when he might share some detail of his driving a truck across the Rhine at Remagen, or how a butcher and his family in Bruges, Belgium sheltered him when he was separated from his unit during the Battle of the Bulge. He knew his duty and he did it, but it was not some glorious crusade for him. It was a long, lousy part of his life.

    That said, I understand where Cooz is coming from. While we celebrate World War II as a “good war” it was like all wars. . .horrible, ugly, filthy, stinking business. . .and not everyone was Audie Murphy. And Cooz’s absolutely correct about the Republican Party’s devotion to isolationism. Read about the lengths FDR had to go to just to supply England with ships and weaponry to get a sense of just how committed the GOP was to staying out of the fray.

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  21. Prospero said on June 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Well, Wisconsin’s State Swnate changed hands in the recall, and Walker may still get arrested.

    My sister-in-law designed an entry into the Vietnam memorial charette. Hers also included names, but on columns, which I think was a powerful acknowledgement of the sheer enormity of the loss of life for absolutely nothing the war was. I’m not sure of this, but I think the names were a requirement of the competition rules, which Carol asked me to read to give her an opinion on her design. I thought the inscribed steles were an evocative representation of the individual pointless loss of life.

    Joe is correct about the bravery of the airborne drop at nighttime into the European countryside. Cooze is correct that the GOP at the time opposed anything and everything that came out of Roosevelt’s Oval Office and leaned heavily toward isolationism where European war was concerned. Fortunately for the world, GOP obstructionists in USA were far less numerous and motivated than those of today. The modern GOP determined after their isolationist embarrassment over WWII to never meet an armed conflict they didn’t like, and today’s party is full of ahole chickenhawks like “Buck” McKeon and GW Shrub and Dickless Cheney, right down to mounting more pointless military conflicts than Vietnam, andtelling outrageous lies about Senator John Kerry, when Shrub pere bailed on his bomber crew and talked himself into war heroism subsequently:


    And I don’t want to hear any defense of HW from folks who lapped up the meretricious shit spewed by the Swiftboaters in ’04 in the interest of the AWOL draft dodger from the Texas Air Guard.

    And while heroism frequently takes courage, the reverse is certainly not true.

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  22. Joe K said on June 6, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Just trying to show some respect for some very brave Paratroopers,for whom I could only hope to show that kind of bravery and he who must not be named has to politicize and ruin it. My dad was in the 82nd during Korea and his brother,my uncle was in the 101st in Vietnam. While I was running this morning a C-47 flew over me, first one I have seen airborne in quite some time. It made the hair on my arms rise up. 68yrs later and she was still flying.
    Pilot Joe

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  23. MichaelG said on June 6, 2012 at 10:40 am

    People serve in the military for many different reasons. The fact that they serve in a war zone and even participate in the fighting doesn’t make them scumbags; nor does it make them heros. They’re people just like everyone else. I’m an airborne veteran and did a tour in Vietnam with the 101st Abn and a second three month trip with the 82d Abn.

    There have been many thousands of wars for many thousands of years and people have fought and died in them since the beginning of time. In that context there is nothing special about Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam or even WWII. They are just more recent and we know people or are people who participated.

    I have no problem with quietly honoring people who served. I do find something creepy, smarmy, sanctimonious and self serving with all this “Thank you for your service” bullshit that’s going around these days. Current vets and serving military are no better and no worse than those who served with Alexander. PTSD is a 21st century phenomenon? Guys didn’t get just as wiggy after twenty years in the XVII Legion in Mesopotamia as recent guys in Iraq? I’m kind of groping here but the sense that today’s vets are somehow different or special offends me.

    I’ve been to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in recent years. There are several very interesting museums and memorials around town. It’s educational to see things presented from a different view point. I was slightly amused by some of the captured aircraft and vehicles. The paint and the lettering was just that much off.

    The lowest gas price in this area is still around $4.09.

    I can’t stand Bill Maher. Never could. Whatever he is/was, he isn’t funny and his commentary sucks.

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  24. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 6, 2012 at 10:44 am

    I’ve spent 48 hours in a crash course in learning about these, which I’d not heard about hardly at all until this week, and then have gotten to listen to stories of ice capped mountains in Greenland and patrols off the Newfoundland coast, a bucket between your knees as you grip the radio rack, from an 89 year old fellow who had never told you a thing about it until his wife died Saturday . . . and he wanted me and his kids to know about the Splinter Fleet. I share this summary with you all in honor of his wish; the author of it died less than a year ago himself.


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  25. Scout said on June 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

    JWfromNJ – that was simply incredible. Thank you for sharing. Your writing brought back the feelings I had as the events happened in 2001, it was that powerful.

    Wisconsin was a huge disappointment, but like alex said there are a few bright spots. What I really hate about it is that the MSM is already touting Walker’s victory as ideological rather than the result of a Citizens United money bomb blitz. But that being said, the discussion here today has helped me put what is just a political setback into perspective.

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  26. brian stouder said on June 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Well, and not to be all flamey – but I would like to repeat the question Rachel Maddow asked last night.

    What would the GOP/rightwing radio/Fox news say – if President Obama attended a fundraiser at some Texas billionaire’s mansion – and on the anniversary of D-Day, no less – wherein that billionaire proudly displays paintings by Adolf Hitler on the walls of his palace, and has an actual signed copy of Adolf Hitler’s book, displayed on his shelf?

    Mitt Romney and the Republican’s problem with Saul Alinski suddenly takes on a very different color.

    I mean, for heaven’s sake! We still hear about (then candidate) Obama’s “bitter clinger” remark at a private fundraiser. Will we hear even one complaint from, say, Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, about Romney taking even one thin dime from a guy who openly venerates and admires Adolf Hitler?

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  27. coozledad said on June 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Maher is a poster boy for the deleterious effects of long term marijuana use. Talk about a bastard with no moral compass.

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  28. Deborah said on June 6, 2012 at 11:02 am

    My husband and I were discussing politics this morning and he mentioned again that he doesn’t understand people who will gladly send their children off to war. His own parents encouraged him to enlist during the Vietnam war. After having a huge argument with his father my husband was so upset he tore off on his motorcycle and had an accident that coincidentally kept him from being drafted for awhile. He did get drafted eventually and served in Vietnam, which changed his life forever. When you think how ardently parents protect their children how can they possibly want them to have to go through the horror of war? This comes to mind when I think of it http://www.franciscodegoya.net/Saturn-Devouring-His-Sons.html.

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  29. annie said on June 6, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Joe, while I disagree with your politics, I admire your courage in posting here. Most people are respectful on this site — sometimes in his effort to be clever, Coozledad can be mean-spirited. I know he’s a sacred cow here but he’s often off putting so I just pass over his comments. You should do the same.

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  30. coozledad said on June 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Alexander was pretty damned brave. During his campaign in India, he dropped into a fortress with only two of his bodyguards and nearly got his ass killed fighting the defenders. He was able to do this because his mama (who he most likely fucked) told him he was God.

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  31. brian stouder said on June 6, 2012 at 11:06 am


    And right on cue, too!

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  32. Bitter Scribe said on June 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

    To go back for a moment to Maya Lin: One of the reasons I have never liked James Webb was because his was one of the loudest and most obnoxious voices against her design when it was unveiled. He was one of the first to bring up her ethnicity, which was completely despicable.

    (And to anyone who wants to point out that Webb’s wife is Asian: I know, and I’m not impressed. John Derbyshire’s wife is Asian, too. And Lou Dobbs’ is of Mexican heritage. The ethnicity of your spouse does not give you a pass on being a bigot.)

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  33. Julie Robinson said on June 6, 2012 at 11:07 am

    We’ve lost another great author, Ray Bradbury: https://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/06/06/154422373/ray-bradbury-author-of-fahrenheit-451-and-other-classics-dies?sc=fb&cc=fp

    And I’ve always liked this quote from Jimmy Carter: “War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

    edit: Annie, I agree!

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  34. nancy said on June 6, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Well, my late father-in-law was one of those infantry paratroopers, and here’s what he told Alan: “Keep up with your trumpet. If you get drafted, you can join an Army band and not have to get your ass shot off.” It’s in line with every man I’ve ever known who saw serious action in any war, just or unjust, wise or stupid. They all say the same thing: There’s no shame in avoiding getting your ass shot off, any way you can.

    I agree with MichaelG that the thanks-for-your-service stuff can get a little overwhelming, especially when it involves little more than uploading a flag picture to Facebook.

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  35. Connie said on June 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

    I attended the dedication of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial with my husband and VVA Chapter 73 of which he was a charter member. It was a very meaningful couple of days and also one huge party. Many items were left at the wall, and that is the first time I every saw teddy bears etc piling up at a place to mark a loss.

    Reagan cancelled his attendance at the dedication because Breznev died. The vets present said that showed who/what Reagan cared about.

    Leaning toward the Chevy Cruze. Why? Because the seat fits my rear best.

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  36. coozledad said on June 6, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Annie:Joe only said he fucked my wife. That’s not only off putting, it’s the sheerest fabulism. I’m the only dumbass my wife has ever fucked.
    She’s still pissed off that you said that, Joe. Even though I told her you have no idea what you’re doing.

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  37. Prospero said on June 6, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Hell, Scribe. Mrs. Mitch McConnell is of Asian descent.

    What MichaelG said, and Buffy:


    It’s the profiteers and their political enablers that are the rankest cowards (like the profiteer politician ultimate chickenhawk, Cheney):


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  38. Jakash said on June 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    When I read Pilot Joe’s short note last night (after viewing the end of the Transit of Venus from Hawaii and Norway — take that, Copernicus!) I found my reaction was strangely ambivalent. I must admit, since it was Joe, I may have been a little suspect of the motives. But I also thought about those guys jumping into the night and the significance of the efforts of all those who participated in D-Day. Which was his point, after all.

    I pretty much line up politically with Coozledad and enjoy many of his comments, while marvelling at his willingness to be so offensive to whomever might be on the receiving end of his diatribes. Certainly he can marshal the English language in a manner that few come close to approaching. But, (and nobody asked me, of course) I think his shots at Joe in this instance are over the top. Joe made no political reference in his post, and if it had been made by Brian S., for instance, I don’t think it would have provoked such a response. Really, I don’t think Coozledad’s reference to the Republicans and Roosevelt was pertinent in this instance, at all. Jumping to politicize every single thing seems to me to be a tactic better suited to the TeaPartiers than somebody as thoughtful as he is.

    I also am not sure about the sincerity of much of the “thanks for your service” commentary. But what’s the alternative? It’s a way of expressing solidarity with those who are fighting on our behalf, whether one agrees with the fights or not. Given that the entire country pretty much behaves as if we’re not at war at all, I think expressing this to service members (in person, not on Facebook) is a good thing, and certainly beats spitting on them or shunning them, some previous alternatives, apochryphal or not.

    For whatever that’s worth, which, keeping to form, will be either derision or nothing.

    On a happier note, I wish I could have joined you on your Indian mound last night, Jeff (tmmo). My, but you turn up in the most eclectic publications! Luckily, since I’ve long been a subscriber to “Indian Country Today”, I’d already read that article. 😉 The internet was a swell substitute, but seeing it outside would have been cool. How was your turnout, might I ask? Clear skies for you?

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  39. Dexter said on June 6, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Connie, I was just going to trash Reagan here, but thanks for beating me to it. That episode helped cement my hatred for Reagan, but years later his speech writers tried to make up for it.

    I have a big dresser with many drawers and compartments. One of the drawers was my tomb for the souvenirs I brought back from Vietnam in 1971…some piasters, some photos, some trinkets. In the garage, on a nail, I hung my “Viet Cong” sandals, which probably never saw the soles of a VC’s feet, but were bought by me one day on the beach at Nha Trang.
    When I began reading of the leaving of photos and mementos at The Wall, I knew what I wanted to do. I rented a huge diesel passenger van and crammed it full of relatives, Mom and Dad included, and we headed off to Washington. I wore my jungle fatigues and my “boonie hat” as I left my group for a little while to walk down to The Wall by myself and I emptied my pockets of all my Vietnamese coins and paper currency and I left my sandals there too. They were made of cut-out tires and rubber straps, and basically were the footwear of the nation there at that time.
    I left quite a few photos of the countryside and the towns and cities I had been too, and of the coastline…breathtaking vistas taken with Tri-X-Pan ASA 400 black and white film in my Yashica auto-lens camera.
    I got up and walked away, traversing the entire Wall. When I left I noticed quite a crowd around my pictures and stuff, eyeballing. One young father was explaining to his very young son what the pictures were of, why the money looked “funny”. I just kept walking. I never regretted leaving that stuff there, not for a second.
    I joined the VFW, but it took me ten years home , and at that, it was the urging from my WW1 friend, Bert Wolfe of Bellevue, Ohio, to get me to join. Bert was an ancient man by then, having served in France in the trenches, and he told me people like me, with my anti-war attitude, needed to join the VFW and be heard. Ah, it turned out nobody wanted to hear my antiwar talk and I drifted away from the canteen talk over beers and whiskey, but I am still a member; I go once a year and pay my dues and drink a Coke.
    For JW from NJ…the most moving video-triute Bill Geist ever did for CBS…regarding Ridgewood, New Jersey, just post-9-11.

    I also want to say I was very happy with the selection of Maya Lin’s design, but my pals at the VFW were pretty-much outraged. Now, it’s just accepted.

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  40. Scout said on June 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    What a great conversation today. I just want to say that I value and enjoy both coozledad and Pilot Joe.

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  41. LAMary said on June 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks for that JW. You know Bill Maher is from Ridgewood, NJ. Next door to Glen Rock.
    I had friends who lost friends in the towers. I had been there just before it happened and I wonder what happened to the nice busboy in Windows on the World who brought me extra olive oil for my salad. That sounds so trivial. I wondered about the people I knew who temped there and wondered if they worked that day. One of them was home waiting for the cable guy to show up. Luckily the cable guy was late.

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  42. Deborah said on June 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Ditto for me what Scout said at #40.

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  43. Dexter said on June 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    “Thank you for your service.” I get that a lot, and it doesn’t offend me.
    What does offend me and did offend me in the past is the denial that was spreading around that returning Vietnam vets weren’t spat upon and degraded in many ways when they returned from service.
    Here’s the truth…our DD-214 release from active duty papers were coded and written to plainly show we had been to Vietnam.
    Many corporations simply would not hire V-vets under any circumstances.
    We were jeered at airports at times, not always, I was called “Baby Killer” by a girl in a bar…so OK, I was not actually spit on, but it was bad. The first TV movie I saw involving a V-vet starred Yaphet Kotto as a crazy bastard murderer. It was years before the public turned to support-mode for Vietnam vets.
    Many vets quietly returned home and maybe didn’t even notice any of this, but some of us did.

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  44. Connie said on June 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Dexter, back in the 90s when the web was new my husband tracked down many of his old army buddies and borrowed and scanned their many Vietnam pictures. The web page he created then is now part of the Texas Tech Vietnam archives. http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/ . His online gang of veteran buddies now has several hundred members and they gather each September in St. Louis for an informal reunion. They call themselves Alpha Company, 1/20th, 11th Light Infantry Brigade.

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  45. 4dbirds said on June 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I’m pretty sure I offended a few people when I first started commenting on this site. I’ve backed off, not because I’ve changed my beliefs but my sister’s death made me a little insane and once I recovered from my grief, I decided I wanted to be a nicer person.

    I’m a vet and I cringe every time I hear “Thanks for your service”. I don’t know how to respond. My service and I can only speak for me, didn’t and doesn’t seem like a sacrifice. I was treated with respect and as a resource. I was assumed competent and was given training, experience and responsibility. It absolutely shaped who I am today as much as my family of origin did. I guess I should be thanking everyone else for letting me serve.

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  46. 4dbirds said on June 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t get these numbers “at #40” that you others see. Is this a feature I can turn on?

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  47. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    4D, my computer at work doesn’t show the numbers but my computer at home does. I think the Proprietress’ tech guru once explained it but I don’t recall the details. It’s a hassle to count manually, I tell ya.

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  48. Jakash said on June 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Since I use the Edsel of browsers, IE, I don’t get the numbers either. My understanding is that with Firefox or other browsers, you see them at the side of the posts.

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  49. JWfromNJ said on June 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Dexter – that was touching and as Mary observed Ridgewood and Glen Rock are bordering towns, so the experience was very similar. World Trade Center filmed many of the scenes in Glen Rock – my old barber was featured. The overlook shown in the youtube clip was a place to watch fireworks, take a date, and on 9-11 hundreds of people watched the towers fall from up there in the heights.

    I’m gonna weigh on on Pilot Joe and Coozledad – I value both contributors. I respect Joe for having different opinions but being respectful, and I always enjoy Cooze’s humor. I must have missed the wife comments, but let’s stay civil. It’s what keeps many of us coming back.

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  50. Connie said on June 6, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Make sure you go to the drive-in at google.com today.

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  51. beb said on June 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    4dbirds – there’s a number assigned to each comment. It appears as light grey in the white to the left of the comment, roughly level with the comment’s name. Your question is comment #46. It may be that there isn’t enough contrast on your monitor to see the number.

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  52. Sue said on June 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Some thoughts on the Wisconsin recall. Kind of long, thanks for letting me vent:
    The Gov’s race was fought to a draw, it seems, because the percentage breakdown was similar to the 2010 election. However, exit polling indicated a slightly higher rate of union households voting than last time, plus a rather noticeable preference for Obama in November. There has been a lot of talk in Wisconsin about how people were offended at the idea of a recall, and to me the above-noted disconnect between union/Obama people and a Walker victory could be explained by people more incensed at a ‘do-over’ than by anything Walker has done to trigger a recall.
    Walker has promised to change or eliminate the recall option. He doesn’t need to – no one will ever be able to get enough signatures to start a recall here again. Very few people will be willing to sign a recall petition in WI now that we know the signatures will be posted online in a format that can be easily searched by employers, exes, and mischiefmakers of all levels of malice.
    It’s kind of nice to think of all these super-rich folks forced to flush money down the toilet to get their candidate retained or elected. Obviously Walker’s people were wasting money at a much higher rate, but then they have so much more of it. In the last couple of months and definitely in the last couple of weeks, it’s safe to say that no one watched TV in WI without having one person the designated mute-button pusher. Lots and lots of silent commercials the last few weeks. Also millions of ignored calls picked up by answering machines then deleted before five words got out.

    If this fight was all about and only about unions – an argument that has really passionate proponents on either side – then Wisconsin sent a message yesterday that we really hate our teachers. Giving school districts the unilateral ‘tools’ to allow them to cut pay potentially by 30% or more doesn’t mean that school boards will do that or want to do that, unless you also put in restrictions that don’t allow school boards enough leeway to raise the money elsewhere while at the same time cutting back or eliminating state aid, plus having as your long goal the ‘voucherization’ of the whole state toward private and corporate-run schools. Very carefully thought out by those who are putting the plan in place, but not necessarily very carefully considered or understood by voters this time around.

    In my opinion this may have started out as a fight about unions and collective bargaining, but it would not have gotten as far as it did without the other issues bringing people in, like hits to the working poor and the environment and the attempts at voter suppression.

    I know there are a lot of newspaper people here, and I apologize for being so blunt, but holy gods did the newspaper coverage suck in Milwaukee. If I wanted anything beyond surface reporting and false equivalencies I had to go elsewhere. The only exception was Dan Bice who apparently is carrying the entire load for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding the John Doe investigation, and everything I read from him I had already found out elsewhere days or weeks before.

    The next big fight will be Walker-as-victim in the John Doe. This will be harder to spin in Walker’s favor, the “Dem Prosecutor is picking on poor Scott” argument will probably fall apart as more details come out. And I am not looking forward to eventually having to refer to happy-face homophobe Rebecca Kleefisch as “Governor Kleefisch”. Of course Wisconsinites will be able to sleep better at night, knowing she is protecting our furniture against the onslaught of amorous marriage-minded suitors, but really, pretty only goes so far; eventually she’ll have to actually engage a few brain cells.

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  53. Dexter said on June 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Elton John performs at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

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  54. Dexter said on June 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    I am copying this photo from the website that Connie highlighted. How’d you like to pull a year’s duty on a boat like this, just a sitting duck out there…

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  55. brian stouder said on June 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you Sue, great post!

    I did not know that the recall petitions were posted online, although I suppose it makes sense that they would be a matter of public record. (although galling nontheless)

    Say – here’s the dumbest question of the day, for you: In 25 words or less – what is the nub of the “John Doe” investigation? I keep hearing references to it, and I’ve never gotten around to Googling it.

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  56. MichaelG said on June 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I luckily was never cursed, spat upon or vilified during the many times I passed through airports (mostly SFO and ATL) back during the Vietnam era. Nor did I experience any job related difficulties, thank goodness. It was the case, however, that Vietnam vets seemed to be demonized as a bunch of homicidal, drug crazed loonies who were best avoided. I’m not sure that attitude has entirely faded.

    I had a bunch of stuff I saved – a sweatshirt, Chicom Mao cap, and a pair of pants and a belt, all too small to wear. I also had a lot of pictures. That stuff all burned up in a fire. I wish I had the pix. All I have left are a half dozen pictures and an M-16 magazine with a ragged hole in it. That was a close one.

    I never saw much of those boats. We operated in the central highlands and central coast and later up near Hue. The boats were down in the delta. Oh, and our mode of transportation was by LPC – Leather Personnel Carriers.

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  57. coozledad said on June 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    brian: Part of it has to do with the way Scotty and his pals “thank the troops for their service”

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  58. Sherri said on June 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Maybe if we had memorials for things like this we’d have a better appreciation for government regulation: http://www.retronaut.co/2012/06/pittsburgh-before-smoke-control-1940/

    I remember seeing the Carnegie Museum before and after sand-blasting, and finally being aware of how much soot covered everything I saw in Pittsburgh.

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  59. Bob (not Greene) said on June 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Sherri, I used to work in a building on Michigan Avenue in Chicago that was black. Then one year they did a restoration job on the building and, whaddya know, the building was actually buff-colored. Looked like a completely different building, but it had become black because of all the coal smoke that used to permeate the atmosphere. I don’t know if it’s flat-out ignorance or they’re too young to remember or simply didn’t get around much when they were younger, but do people who argue against strict clean air and water regulations think we wouldn’t go right back to that shit if people like the Koch Bros had their way? Corporations had to be made to clean up their acts.

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  60. brian stouder said on June 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Cooz, thanks for the link! It was at once illuminating and depressing (half way through, MEGO* occurred)

    I think Sue hit it; if the thing explodes on Walker, he’ll just become the latest teaparty saint and martyr; Sort of a Sarah Palin with sideburns; useful for fundraising and self-pity.

    *my eyes glazed over

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  61. Ralph Hitchens said on June 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Thanks for recognizing the poignant impact of the Vietnam Memorial. Decades ago, when the memorial was being savaged in the press in terms you cite, I wrote a letter to the editor of some magazine (Commentary, I believe; it was published) to insist that the power of the names overwhelmed any other traditional war memorial concept I had ever seen. And Maya Lin, by the way, was only the executor — the requirement for inclusion of all the names was laid down by Jan Scruggs & the VVMC, and enforced in the design competition. Any number of alternate designs would have succeeded as well, given the power of the names.

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  62. Prospero said on June 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I find it offensive that anybody thinks it’s required that I feel as if US troops fought or are fighting on my behalf in Iraq or Afghanistan to prove I’m American. That is bullshit. My freedom, such as it is, does not need defending in Iraq, it needs a defense against antiAmerican bastards like the criminal goober-nor of FLA that think it’s copacetic to limit voting to the GOPer apparat. Both of those invasions are exercises in blind and greedy PNAC adventurism. To vets and their families of those msiguided FUBAR imperialist fiascos, I feel as if what the country owes is not thanks, but abject apologies.

    I understand and respect Dex’s memories of “Coming Home”, but the true disrespect and disservice to Vietvets was done by the insulated Chickenhawk lords of the military-industrial manor that were WWII GI bill babies with six deferments but were all “Hooahh, Get Some” about intruding on a civil war in Southeast Asia with other people’s lives. By 2004, these same aholes were willing to launch the shamefully mendacious Swiftboat attacks on a decorated vet that in the eyes of his commanders served with valor, when he could have avoided it as easily as W got assigned to guard the OClub in Waco. These are the people that reduced VA hospitals to rat-infested dumps, because, after all, they had their health plans Jack. Was it worse calling a vet a baby killer or spending boocoo taxpayer bucks denying Agent Orange health claims? The American anti-war movement was characterized as traitors by the self-serving politicians that were architects of the Vietnam debacle while having no skin in the game. I took beatings in Ann Arbor and Chicago to try to prevent obscenely meaningless deaths of young Americans and Vietnamese, and I’d try it again but for the helpless feeling that grows out of knowing Americans elected the worst President* ever because the lying sack o’ shit claimed to have a plan for ending the Vietnam nightmare, and he and the traitorous scum Kissinger kept at it for four more years, while nefariously expanding operations into Laos and Cambodia to get more young men killed.

    *Until the USSupreme Court appointed a downright ignorant clown in 2000.

    People working for the DA signed the recall petition and that was a big stink for GOPer defenders of the creep for a while. Here’s an undoubtedly unbiased account of the affair from Forbes:


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  63. Julie Robinson said on June 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Back at #34, for those of you who can see the numbers, Nancy mentioned how Alan’s dad advised him to keep up his trumpet so if he was drafted he could be in the band instead of carrying a gun.

    This is no longer true. One of my son’s buddies had a supposedly iron-clad promise from the recruiter about always being in the band. But with the military being stretched so thin the music programs have been cut back, and he’s served a couple of tours in Iraq & Afghanistan.

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  64. Prospero said on June 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Ralph, thanks. I thought the names were a requirement for the design competition.

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  65. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Life in a Hoosier trailer park: A fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Except Mel Gibson.

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  66. DellaDash said on June 6, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Sometimes I see the numbers, sometimes not (like today). Don’t know why.

    Sue, Dex, and the other vets posting today, thanks for your respective lowdowns.

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  67. JWfromNJ said on June 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Jeff TMMO – thanks for the information and links on the Splinter Fleet. It was a chapter in history I didn’t know about and the geek in me loved the scematics and trying to imagine life on one of those boats – and I do feel empathy for the German kids in the U-boats too.

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  68. alex said on June 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Sue, thanks for the perspective. You explained a lot of things better than any national pundit I’ve read so far.

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  69. Bitter Scribe said on June 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I do feel empathy for the German kids in the U-boats too.

    As I do. I don’t suppose there’s any pleasant way to die in combat, but being lost at sea in a U-boat had to be particularly horrible. At least for the infantry, the end could be quick.

    Of course, my empathy has limits when I think what those U-boats were out there doing.

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  70. Suzanne said on June 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I’ve been to the 9/11 Memorial recently. It’s well done and invites reflection. I talked to one native New Yorker while there who was thrilled it was done. Why? Because the natives were sick and tired of tourists coming to Ground Zero and taking cheesy, smiling pictures of the “Look at me!! I’m here at Ground Zero!” variety. He said considering the death toll, most natives were appalled at how people behaved.

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  71. Prospero said on June 6, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Scribe. Those German kids in UBoats had no idea what they were doing nor why it was happening, anymore than did American kids that pushed buttons to inflict Shock and Awe on Sadr City and the rest of Bagdhad’s poorest people. War is old rich man’s business for obscene profit and it get’s more heinously so as the old rich men get more safely insulated from the violence they perpetrate.

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  72. MichaelG said on June 6, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    We used to sit around and drink beer and fantasize about putting all the big bosses from Hanoi and D. C. in an arena with clubs and let them settle it while we drank beer and ate popcorn with the PAVN guys while watching the show. Didn’t work out that way.

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  73. Prospero said on June 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Suzanne: Like cheeseball faux cowboy with a megaphone and Rudi and Kerik lapping his lame shit up.

    Detroit TV:


    Tom Paxton on Vietnam:


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  74. Bitter Scribe said on June 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    MichaelG: That fantasy is described in “All Quiet on the Western Front.” In fact, I bet it’s popped up in the minds of soldiers in every protracted war in history.

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  75. Joe K said on June 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    If anyone is interested,go to flightaware.com and put 421hp into the tail number slot on the top left,click on it and then click on the picture of the airplane and you can see my new ride, a cessna 421 Golden Eagle, 220mph pressurized and will fly in the mid 20’s
    Pilot Joe

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  76. Dexter said on June 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    John Teti was his name. He was a very competent medic in my unit in Vietnam. He was sure of his future; he was to be a P.A. when he went back home. He had joined the army to get the advanced , year long training course, to obtain the 91C job title, meaning he was a nurse and not a flunky ten-week trained medic.
    He told us how the recruiter had promised him a sergeant’s pay grade (E5) when he had completed his training, but all that went out the window and he was immediately shipped to Vietnam.
    John Teti was even-tempered and a good guy, but he had this odd habit. He searched for magazines for these reply postcards addressed to the US Army with the salutation “Make Sergeant in 28 Weeks!!” He’d send them along in the mail with all sorts of obscene remarks scribbled on them. I wonder if he ever made Sergeant…I doubt it. It seems no one ever was promoted while in our unit there.
    I see where Obama signed a bill making parts of Fort Ord, California, National Park land. Lots of room for hiking and trail bicycling. Might as well…the post there closed many years ago. What a shit hole that place was. Jesus.

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  77. brian stouder said on June 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Dexter, when my wife’s uncle completed his hitch in Vietnam, they offered him a promotion if he re-upped.

    Her uncle had the good Hoosier common sense to say “Thanks, but no thanks!”

    Joe, nice photo. (I couldn’t see your Romney-12 sticker, but maybe it’s on the other side) Here’s a question I’ve got for you: when we were at Indy for the race a week ago, I was again struck by how very slow the planes that tow the advertising banners go; they can’t be much above stall speed.

    Are those guys crazy? or is it an illusion, and the banner towing is actually an easy thing?

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  78. Joe K said on June 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Hooking the banner is a art form, the planes themself are just doing slow flight, some flap out to lower the stall speed, they need to fly slow so you can read the banner, its something you practice. Scheduled to leave fwa @ 6:30am Thursday if you want to watch,lol on the Rommney sticker. Foot note, watching the Stanley cup finals These guys can play.
    Pilot Joe

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  79. basset said on June 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Good-lookin’ aircraft there, Joe… so are you done with the 310 now?

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  80. MichaelG said on June 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    I’ve had a ride in a 421. Talk about a large limo. It’s a really, really nice cabin class airplane and a big step up from a 310. No Penny, though.

    Back in the early eighties when I, with a partner, owned a Citabria out of Oakland, there was a Polish guy at the field who did banner tows. He was older, a vet of the Polish air force in WWII where he was said to have been some kind of hero who later escaped to England and flew for I can’t remember whom for the balance of the war. Anyway, he had a beautiful blue and yellow (what else?) Stearman with a big non-standard Pratt that I was told made 950hp. Who knows? I’ve been told lots of things but this one I believed. My instructor flew it a few times and said it was bad ass. He also said he damn near froze to death in that open cockpit on a banner tow trip to San Jose.


    They would lay the banner out on the grass by the aircraft parking area with the end strung up between two poles that looked to be about twenty feet high. The Polish ace would then take off in the Stearman, circle around and swoop down at full power to pick up the banner with the hook on the tail of the aircraft. It was an incredible sight to see that big biplane barrel down at us, snatch the banner and head back up into the sky with that big engine roaring and the whole airframe straining against the sudden drag of the banner. Then he was gone to the Oakland Coliseum a mile away where there would be an A’s or Raider’s game with a huge captive audience or maybe he would fly the three miles or so across the Bay to Candlestick where there would be a Giant’s or 49er’s game. OAK was a great place for a banner tow operation.

    After a maybe a half hour he would be back, settling gently toward the grass with that huge engine idling and the banner fluttering behind him and he would release the banner which would fall softly to the grass where his guys would quickly change the message while he was out circling over the golf course before coming back, power full on now to dive down to pick up the banner again with its new “Cindy will you marry me” message. Great times. I was so stupid not to have taken a ton of pix.

    It was exhilarating to stand right there, head back and mouth open, hearing and watching that big airplane barreling down at us, buffeted by the wind of it as it passed just overhead, inhaling the aroma of airplane and oil and exhaust as it passed twenty feet above us, the roar of that huge round engine blotting everything out but still audible was the click of the hook engaging and the snap as the banner pulled taut and then the engine screaming as it was past us and loaded up with the increased burden of the banner drag, the Polish ace grinning over the cockpit coaming with his leather jacket and his old time leather helmet and goggles. The souped up Stearman was a wonderful banner tow aircraft.

    There was another guy, maybe out of Hayward, I don’t know where, who towed a smaller banner with a Cessna 150. That thing would be struggling along at a high angle of attack and I don’t know how he kept it in the air with its bitty 115hp. He struck me as a bit of a fool trying to tow banners with a 150. I mean he was on the edge the whole time. God, I wish I could remember the name of that Polish guy. He was polite but aloof, like a count or something, but boy could he fly. Such a delicate touch on the controls.

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