Sunday, August 24, 2014
I Was a Soldier; I Am a Veteran
By Colonel Daniel K. Cedusky, USA, Retired
I was a Soldier or I am a Veteran: That is the way it is, what we were and certainly WHAT we ARE.
We put it, simply, without any swagger, without any brag, in those four plain words.
We speak them softly, just to ourselves. Others may have forgotten they are a manifesto to humankind; speak those four words anywhere in the world, anywhere, and many who hear will recognize their meaning.
They are a pledge. A pledge that stems from a document that said, “I solemnly swear”, “to protect and defend” and goes on from there, and from a Flag called “Old Glory”.
Listen, and you can hear the voices echoing through them, words that sprang white-hot from bloody lips, shouts of “medic 221; whispers of “Oh God!” forceful words of “Follow Me”. If you cannot hear them, you were not, if you can you are.
“Don’t give up the ship! Fight her until she dies… Damn the torpedoes! Go ahead! . . . Do you want to live forever? . . . Don’t cheer, boys; the poor devils are dying.”
Laughing words, and words cold as January ice, words that when spoken, were meant, “Wait till you see the whites of their eyes”. The echoes of I was a Soldier. Say what you mean & mean what you say!
You can hear the slow cadences at Gettysburg, or Arlington honoring not a man, but a Soldier, perhaps forgotten by his nation, his family…Oh! Those Broken Promises, VA claims, Homelessness, Divorces. You can hear those echoes as you have a beer at the “Post”, walk in a parade, go to The Wall, visit a VA hospital, hear the mournful sounds of Taps, or gaze upon the white crosses, or tall white stones, row upon row. However, they are not just words; they are a way of life, a pattern of living, or a way of dying.
They made the evening, with another day’s work done - supper with the wife and kids. A Beer with friends; and no Gestapo snooping at the door and threatening to kick your teeth in. They gave you the right to choose who shall run our government for us, the right to a secret vote that counts just as much as the next fellow is in the final tally. In addition, the obligation to use that right, and guard it and keep it clean. They prove the right to hope, to dream, to pray, and the obligation to serve. These are just some of the meanings of those four words, meanings we do not often stop to tally up or even list.
Only in the stillness of a moonless night or in the quiet of a Sunday afternoon, or in the thin dawn of a new day, when our world is close about us, Do they rise up in our memories and stir in our sentient hearts. In addition, we are remembering family & battle buddies, who were at Iwo Jima, Wake Island, and Bataan, Inchon, and Chu Lai, Knox and Benning, Great Lakes and Paris Island, Travis and Chanute, Bagdad, Kabul, Kuwait City, and many other places long forgotten by our civilian friends.
They are plain words, those four. Simple words. You could carve them on stone; you could carve them on the mountain ranges. You could sing them, to the tune of “Yankee Doodle.” However, you need not. You need not do any of those things, for those words are graven in the hearts of Veterans, they are familiar to 24,000,000 tongues, every sound and every syllable. If you must write them, put them on my Stone.
However, when you speak them, speak them softly, proudly, I will hear you, for I too, I was a Soldier, I AM A VETERAN.
Friday, August 1, 2014
What are the chances of a second revolution/civil war in America? Could things like The Occupy Movement, The Tea Party Movement, and other movements of this type lead to a second revolution/civil war in the United States?
Examine the last 4-5 years in Bosnia: it is possible.
The Bosnian war happened because the Yugoslavian Army became predominantly a single ethnicity. When that ethnicity came to power, it brought together the perfect storm: corrupt government + willing military = genocide. I would argue that if the military unified around a single issue & the government opposed that issue, the military would refuse to back the government. Government program/policy - willing military = civil war.
We have seen this play out in the Middle East where the commanding general of the military ends up opposed to the sitting ruler. The General then attempts to wrest power from the government or the military declares military rule. It is a mistake to believe that the population needs to mobilize in any kind of a large scale. In most Civil Wars, including our own right through what is happening right now in Syria, much of the population is passive and is herded around or used for human shields. Yugoslavia was a well-off, modern nation before the war. In 1984, they hosted the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Fast-forward 8 years later, Sarajevo was under siege.
There is a tremendous amount of rhetoric bantered about in our country full of utterly false analogies and hyperbolic claims that seem intended less to promote educated debate than to elicit anger and distrust. We are the most connected generation ever, but it seems instead of people using that to gather information, individuals use it to spread propaganda. The type of propaganda that claims those who disagree are "un-American" or worse, less than human. This happens from all sides, all ideologies and the vitriol is increasing. Considering all of this, I am not able to rule out that Civil War is impossible here.
I do not think our divide would be ethnic, but potentially & most likely cultural. When you really look closely, often Civil Wars erupt over "way of life" issues. Most religious wars fundamentally break down to - I do not want to live the way you want to tell me to live, I would rather choose my own path.
I am reluctant to give this example because I sense it will avulse the discussion off topic, but gun rights are a potential powder keg. The Pro-Gun lobby says that you should fight gun registration because "the government" will use the registry to round up all of the guns. Well, who is tasked to round up the guns? Even if somehow congress managed to change the Constitution to make it legal, that act alone would be the break point for a number of States and I venture to believe the mass majority of States if not EVERY State would pitch a fit. Would the federal government continue to press the policy? How? Quite literally, and with what Army?
Many people believe that State's rights have been trampled, if not bulldozed and the federal government has become bloated, too large and omnipotent. Some people believe that if government attempts to round up personal weapons that would be the Stamp Act of our modern times, maybe not sufficient in and of itself, but more of a "last straw."
One of the primary catalysts to the Revolutionary war, and a contributing factor in the Civil War, was taxes. With the ever increasing tax burden being placed on the populace, and the loopholes that the wealthy and corporations are able to exploit to avoid paying taxes, you have to wonder at what point will the citizens decide that enough is enough.
You also have to take into account the political environment right now. Our elected representatives are becoming more out of touch with their constituents, and the lives that they lead. One case in point, a recent interview with Hillary Clinton, where she revealed she has not driven a car since 1996. That is extremely unusual for the average citizen unless there is a mitigating medical condition that prevents driving. Politicians are now more concerned with making risk averse decisions that will ensure their reelection, rather than make the tougher choices to better serve the country as a whole. Our current Commander in Chief flaunts the fact that he has, and will continue to circumvent the legislative process by signing Executive Orders, changing laws without congressional approval. Of course, we have to add in the numerous wealthy individuals who believe they can purchase legislature, and influence the government by promising or denying "donations".
Lastly, there are constant assaults to the Constitutional rights of the average citizen. No longer do we have a reasonable expectation of privacy; nearly all of our electronic communications are intercepted, including our web usage statistics, and at times even our telephone conversations as evidenced by the recent NSA scandal. Freedom from illegal search and seizure is blown out of the water by ‘law enforcement’ departments on a daily basis that most often ends with a very bad outcome for someone. In addition, there is everyone's favorite hot topic of the moment, the right to keep and bear arms. California has already begun confiscation efforts, passed laws that make it near impossible for a law-abiding citizen to own a firearm, and that is just one example.
Thomas Jefferson stated, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants". This particular saying is becoming a battle cry of sorts to those who desire change, as much as the Gadsden Flag is becoming their banner. With everything that we are forced to endure as citizens, we have to wonder how much more will go unopposed before someone makes that first move toward a new civil war. All it will sadly take is one voice, screaming loud enough, to start the ball in motion.