In the second-to-last episode of "Band of Brothers," an HBO miniseries that documented Easy Company's wartime exploits, Powers spoke on camera about the soldiers he fought and also hinted at the intrinsic tragedy of combat.
"We might have had a lot in common. He might've liked to fish, you know, he might've liked to hunt," Powers said. "Of course, they were doing what they were supposed to do, and I was doing what I was supposed to do.
"But under different circumstances, we might have been good friends."
Vernon Hunter, Vietnam veteran and devout Christian.
I want y'all to read this and I'll have comments on the other side.
Family, friends gather at home of missing man
Vernon Hunter was devout Christian, gave to others, friends say.
By Jeremy Schwartz and Melissa B. Taboada
Published: 10:57 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, 2010
Neighbors say Vernon Hunter was the kind of guy who offered trash collectors Gatorade on hot summer days.
"He was a very spiritual man, kind of the life of the neighborhood," said Darren McDaniel, who has lived two houses away since their homes were built in 1996. "We were all sort of like his kids."
Hunter, who public records show is 68, is believed to have been killed in Thursday's attack on a Northwest Austin building that housed Internal Revenue Service offices. Andrew Joseph Stack III is suspected of flying his single-engine plane into the building.
On Friday , Hunter's neighbors and co-workers expressed their grief and shock, remembering him as an exceptionally kind man who was the glue both in his neighborhood and at work.
"He always put his people first," said co-worker Chris Matz of Hunter, a collection manager at the IRS. "Most of the people in our group are very affected, very traumatized. It's a close-knit group. We are a family."
Michiko Robinson called Hunter an excellent supervisor. "He was a very genuine human being," she said.
Loved ones gathered at the Hunter home in Cedar Park Friday morning as a steady stream of neighbors, family and friends brought food and drinks and offered comfort.
A family representative said the family has not heard from the medical examiner's office and was advised by authorities not to comment until a confirmation has been made. Some relatives had not yet been notified of the tragedy, he added.
Meanwhile on Friday, the most seriously injured victim of the crash continued to recuperate at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he was listed in stable condition. Shane Hill, an investigator with the criminal investigation division of the Texas comptroller's office, received second-degree burns to his back.
Comptroller officials said Hill was in good spirits Friday. "He told me he is anxious to get back to work," his supervisor Max Westbrook said.
Throughout the day Friday, television news trucks parked along the quiet street of the Hunters' two-story, red-brick home. At one point, H-E-B employees went to the home to donate a couple of boxes of food.
"We were shocked and saddened to hear of the unnecessary loss of Vernon Hunter," said company spokeswoman Leslie Lockett. "We want to help the Hunter family in any way we can, and sending food to the family and relatives today was our first step in helping them through this tragedy."
Earlier, police delivered Hunter's Chevy Silverado truck, emblazoned with Vietnam Veteran and POW MIA emblems, to the home. Hunter served in Vietnam and often spoke of his time during the war, neighbors said.
Robert Foster, who has lived near Hunter for about 10 years, said that he knew Hunter was a veteran and wanted to honor him with his American flag. "Out of respect to him, when I came out this morning, I put my flag out," Foster said. "You could talk to him about anything. He always had a smile."
He was known to friends, co-workers and relatives as the one who gave. Hunter is also described as a devout Christian and father of six grown children who loved his white cowboy hat. At Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in East Austin, where Hunter served as a lead usher, news of the tragedy weighed heavily.
"We're devastated," said Brian Balque, facilities manager at the church.
Balque said that Hunter had set up the church's tax ministry, helping members and local residents with their taxes. "He had a servant's heart," Balque said. "He represented what we stand for as a church, a kind word and a warm spirit."
Balque said Hunter's wife, who also works at the same IRS building and was there when the plane struck, called the church in the minutes afterward asking for prayers for her husband.
McDaniel said their street won't be the same with Hunter gone.
"Everybody loved him in the neighborhood," McDaniel said. "He's in a better place, but the neighborhood is going to seem a little empty without him."
People tend to think of other people with whom they disagree in terms of cartoon characters. This dehumanizes them and makes them easier to hate. The other side in our struggle to restore the Founders' Republic is especially guilty of this. But we do it too. It is a thing humans do naturally. As previously stable societies polarize and fragment toward civil war, such a process is a necessary predicate to the the commencement of the killing.
The fact that no one (well, hardly anyone) ever wants a war is immaterial. Wars usually happen because people do not believe they will happen, or that if they do happen ("the other side will HAVE to back down because we say so") they will turn out to be without too much cost to them. The pay-off of war is always viewed by the men who start them as worth the risk, but it hardly ever is.
The problem is that such folks DO NOT THINK. This is what Hannah Arendt was getting at with her description of Adolf Eichmann as representing "the banality of evil."
Otto Adolf Eichmann, March 19, 1906 – May 31, 1962, sometimes referred to as "the architect of the Holocaust", was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer (equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel). Because of his organizational talents and ideological reliability, he was charged by Obergruppenführer (General) Reinhard Heydrich with the task of facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in German-occupied Eastern Europe. -- Wikipedia.
Arendt's first reaction to Eichmann, "the man in the glass booth," was — nicht einmal unheimlich — not even sinister." She argues that "The deeds were monstrous, but the doer ... was quite ordinary, commonplace, and neither demonic nor monstrous." Arendt's perception that Eichmann seemed to be a common man, evidenced in his transparent superficiality and mediocrity left her astonished in measuring the unaccounted evil committed by him, that is, organizing the deportation of millions of Jews to the concentration camps. Actually, what Arendt had detected in Eichmann was not even stupidity, in her words, he portrayed something entirely negative, it was thoughtlessness. Eichmann's ordinariness implied in an incapacity for independent critical thought: "... the only specific characteristic one could detect in his past as well as in his behavior during the trial and the preceding police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think." (emphasis added) Eichmann became the protagonist of a kind of experience apparently so quotidian, the absence of the critical thought. Arendt says: "When confronted with situations for which such routine procedures did not exist, he [Eichmann] was helpless, and his cliché-ridden language produced on the stand, as it had evidently done in his official life, a kind of macabre comedy. Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence."
Eichmann had always acted according to the strict limits allowed by the laws and ordinances. Those attitudes resulted in the clouding between virtues and vices of a blind obedience. In fact, it was not only Eichmann, as an isolated person, who was normal, whereas all other bureaucrats were sadist monsters. One was before a bureaucratic compact mass of men who were perfectly normal, but whose acts were monstrous. Behind such terrible normality of the bureaucratic mass, who was able to commit the greatest atrocities that the world has even seen, Arendt addressed the question of the banality of evil. This normality opened up the precedent regarding the possibility that some attitudes commonly repudiated by a society — in this case the Nazi German attitudes — find as a locus of manifestation the common citizen, who has not reflected on the content of the rules.Richard Bernstein highlights this "normal and ordinary behavior" of the bureaucratic mass in not thinking about the real meaning of the rules themselves, in the sense that they would behave in the same manner in the manufacturing of either food or corpses. "We may find it almost impossible to image how someone could 'think'(or rather, not think) in this manner, whereby manufacturing food, bombs, or corpses are 'in essence the same' and where this can become 'normal', 'ordinary' behavior. This is the mentality that Arendt believed she was facing in Eichmann... ." Eichmann has brought up the radical danger of "such remoteness from reality and such thoughtlessness." -- Eichmann, the Banality of Evil, and Thinking in Arendt's Thought by Bethania Assy.
"The Man in the Glass Booth," Adolf Eichmann on trial.
Don't get me wrong. Vernon Hunter was no Adolf Eichmann. I rather suspect that if the country were to move into a shooting war with itself, between the people and the government, that Vernon Hunter, had he been given the chance, would have sided with the people.
Yet, in his way, Vernon Hunter (on an admittedly very small scale and in different circumstances) is representative of the same sort of "thoughtlessness" Arendt assigns to Eichmann.
Tell me the functional difference between this:
The massacre of Lidice by Nazi troops in retribution for the assassination of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich
The massacre of the Davidians at Waco in retribution for killing 4 raiding ATF agents in what a Texas jury later ruled was lawful self-defense.
And what is the difference between this:
German killers posing in front of the ruins of Lidice.
FBI killer posing in front of Waco.
You want to know the difference? One happened in war and the perpetrators were later punished. The other happened in peacetime and the perpetrators were later promoted. Those are the only functional differences.
So I say to you that at least since 1993, every employee of the federal government should know that this is a government estranged from its people, acting at odds with the Founders' rules set down for it. Indeed, every Federal employee and most state employees either know or have every reason to know that their government employer idly and unthinkingly wages a low-intensity war with its own people. Thus, these government employees today cannot deny two essential facts:
1) The murderous nature of the Leviathan master they serve every day, and
2) That these are not ordinary, peaceful times when such service -- and such thoughtlessness -- has no larger consequence, either to the nation or themselves.
Many of these employees today, including Vernon Hunter, took an oath at some point in their lives to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic. It was an oath they took before God.
The German policemen who hated Hitler but dutifully arrested his opponents and sent them to Dachau or worse were "law enforcement officers." They were, in every sense "obeying the law." This was later an insufficient defense from a charge of war crimes. Most, of course, ultimately faced no punishment. However, they did -- all of them, I will guarantee you -- have to face their Maker on the same charges.
Vernon Hunter was by all accounts a good man, a Christian man, a patriot who had risked his life for his country and dutifully served it. There is no evidence that he ever did anything to harm another person. His death typifies the infinite tragedy of all wars throughout history -- otherwise good men are killed in bad causes.
But do you know who I blame? The dirty, stinking, power-grasping bastards who lay the groundwork for the killing. Today, these are the politicians who give a wink and a nod to murderous FBI agents, rogue ATF gun cops or oppressive IRS tax enforcers. For they took an oath too, these politicians. It was an oath that they forgot even in the utterance.
But there is such a thing as karma and there certainly is a Law of Unintended Consequences, and there is also an Almighty God who will judge them, if not in this world, then in the next.
The fact that murderous federal government misconduct has motivated a whole bunch of otherwise law-abiding people who are now willing, if given sufficient additional motivation, to make the introduction between these unthinking, banally evil politicians and God should not be surprising.
May God take Vernon Hunter into His arms and console his family. And may God damn the arrogant, power-hungry men and women who set up the predicate for his death. I am afraid there will be a lot more unnecessary, tragic deaths before this is over.