In the fall of 1968, as I stopped at a traffic light on my walk to class across the campus of the University of Denver, a man stepped up to me and said, "Hi."
Without waiting for my reply to his greeting, he pointed to the hook sticking out of my left sleeve. "Get that in Vietnam?"
I said, "Yeah, up near Tam Ky in I Corps."
"Serves you right."
As the man walked away, I stood rooted, too confused with hurt, shame, and anger to react.
I was reminded of this when I read the following leftist jeremiad about Memorial Day. Read it and we'll talk more on the other side.
Mourn! Not Honor!, Our Dying in Dishonorable, Murderous Wars
by Jay Janson
On Memorial Day, while our family and friends mourn our absence, conglomerate owned media, after having used our patriotism to have us fight unjust wars based on lies, now hypes our inglorious death as beautiful military service, blacking out media’s having deceived us into participating in senseless massacres of millions of civilians over the last 60 years.
Those who mourn us as fallen comrades, do so in bitter heartbreak and anger. For more than a half century, all of us veterans, both living and dead, were tricked into disservice to our country and humanity, while only some of us paid for our ignorance and innocence with our lives.
And whether we gave our lives in that good war against the fascism that American industrialists and bankers seeking huge profits helped build up, or died during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which candidate Obama called “a dumb war,” our politicians pat our families on the back with equal thanks.
For whether we died fighting the powerful land, sea and air forces that had attacked and declared war on our country, or died after being lied to and deceived into committing war crimes against near defenseless nations, it makes no difference to Wall Street. The Street makes money either way, from ‘good' war or any war, and the death and destruction war brings.
Whether we lose a war, after murdering millions of Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians, or stalemate, after bringing death to a couple million Koreans, our deaths are considered to have contributed to saving all those millions from having to live under communist governments. (However, we note that our government today, ironically enjoys lucrative trade, and has the warm relations, with the communist governments of China and Vietnam.)
Whether some hundreds of us died killing Afghanis in Afghanistan to be better able to chase the Saudi Arabian, Bin Laden, and failed to find him, or merely a dozen of us fell during the manslaughter of a thousand Panamanians, who stood in the way of our successful capture of their former CIA drug dealing President, we receive the same gratitude from the industrial-military-complex via commercial TV programing.
Whether we were two dozen, dying during our invasion of the Dominican Republic to prevent the restoration of democracy and their elected but overthrown President, or three hundred blown away in our sleep by a suicide truck bomber in Lebanon, we all died in government issued clothes and were worthy of a thank you from the Presidential advisors whose plans our commanding generals were carrying out.
Whether we fell serving atrocities happening before our very eyes or were victims of errant friendly fire, we receive the same level of appreciation from politicians and media holding us up as exemplary, to entice recruits to aspire to similar glorification from their peers and society.
(The capitalist establishment, needing predatory war for resources and financial domination, fears Albert Einstein’s menacing prediction that war will end when people refuse to fight.)
Confronted with constant indoctrination to love of war by fear promoting corporate mass disinformation media, veterans, who have survived must remember that we who have paid the highly profiled ‘ultimate sacrifice’ [read threw away our lives for worst than nil], are f--king pissed watching from our graves as criminal media portrays us as just so God damned happy to have forgoed forty or fifty years of mornings, love, friendship, sunsets, and the sheer exhilaration of being alive, to have been shot like pig in a poke or shredded by some stupid land mine, so some mentally challenged moral failures as a human beings CEOs can play with their soldiers, maps and derivatives earning charts.
And just one more thing. Tell that dippy ‘why me worry,’ American public with its finger up its anus: ‘You are responsible for the murderous crimes of your government. You, yes, you, the American entertainment/news advertising TV mesmerized glued to your desperate personal lives citizenry. You are responsible for all the death of the millions we were ordered to kill. Your President is just one public servant, don’t shrug your responsibility off on him.
So on Memorial Days don’t focus obsequiously on us. We paid both the price of our ignorance and your indifference to your citizen responsibilities. Apart from the loving attention of our dear families and acquaintances, we despise your media anchors interest in ‘honoring’ our cadavers.
For Christ’s sake, join the human race and mourn the people we were sent to kill but fell in love with before dying because of your indifference. Those millions that were victims of our wars were our, and your, brothers and sisters and their dead children are now ours more than theirs.
To properly mourn these children, now our children, get to know the culture of their beloved parents. Before we died we realized that their love of family, is head and shoulders above American family values - if for no other reason, because their roots and cultural education goes back much much further than our mere three hundred years of U.S. composite adolescent culture, currently under relentless threat of further commercialization.
We promise you, it will do you good to love them as we came to find them lovable, and realize our, your, government’s extreme cruelty.
On Memorial Day, we would like you to stand above our buried bodies, and pledge to stop being imperialists and stop imperialist war, as Martin Luther King Jr. demanded. Then no one will call America ‘The Great Satan’, nor suicide themselves just to take some of us along with them to a better world.
Mourn the children, their parents and relatives, and then, and only then, mourn us, and for us, please mourn our perceived enemy’s losses as well. If not in your name or ours, then in the name of Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and who ever else taught compassion as healthy and wise behavior.
Save the use of the words ‘honor’ and ‘praise’ for someone like Muhammad Ali, who refused to do what we, for all our good intentions, unfortunately, went along with.
This is not the first time Janson has sung this song, check this out from January, where he takes Obama to task for praising Vietnam veterans in his inaugural.
Mr. President, They Did Not Die For Us When Killing Vietnamese in Khe Sahn, Vietnam
Source: OpEdNews (1-21-09)
Dear President Obama,
In your inaugural address you said, "For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn"
Mr. President, beg to correct. They did not die for us, or anyone else, while they were killing Vietnamese in Khe Sahn, Vietnam! They were shaming us and their country. And afterwards, most veterans were angry for having been deceived.
You will remember, when, during the Democratic debates, your elder, Senator Gravel, stated emphatically, "Our soldiers in Vietnam died in vain, and today they are dying in in vain in Iraq."
Martin Luther King Jr. was surely assassinated for condemning the Vietnam War as a long atrocity within a murderous foreign policy all around the world. So testified a young John Kerry, and Muhammad Ali gave up his title to do the right thing refusing to go.
Mr. President, if America is to change in the future, don't Americans have to be honest about their past. As President-elect, you praised an appointee for having "served his country in Vietnam"? Mr. President, three million Vietnamese died in their own country, many killed in their very own homes. Why praise participation in that imperialist war on an innocent colonial people that had looked up their American ally against the Japanese?
Yours truly, was during eight years in the 1990s, Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi and on tour - playing all four Brahms symphonies, and Beethoven, Prokovieff, Shostakovitch, Haydn, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, both Chopin concertos with the only Asian winner of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, Dan Tai-son, who practiced for it in a Hanoi bomb shelter.
Every musician in the orchestra lost family, "killed by the Americans,"they would answer simply, with Buddhist un-accusing acceptance.
The orchestra was founded by Ho Chi Minh, and it plays most of its concerts in the Opera House, a diminutive copy of the Paris Opera, where in 1945, our ally Ho, from a balcony overlooking the large square and flanked by an American Major and a British Colonel, declared Vietnam independent.
Next October, the New York Philharmonic will perform in this Hanoi concert hall.
Mr. President, what kind of a message were you sending to the Vietnamese in your mentioning the dying in Vietnam was for America? You know we dropped double the tonnage of all the bombs dropped in World War Two on them.
The President did not say they died for us in Fujulla, Iraq, because candidate Obama bravely spoke out against that horrible war ordered by Bush and supported by Senator Clinton.
Would like to hope that calling attention to Khe Sahn, Vietnam in the President's speech was an oversight, but this praise of the Vietnam war comes right after his silence at the slaughter of the six hundred children of Gaza by American made bombs and planes.
Would that the president could make use of the continuing support of Veterans For Peace. There is a lot of apprehension of your possibly continuing a belligerent foreign policy due to the record of various cabinet members.
We will see a change in the government's bloody foreign policies, when enough citizens feel properly guilty for their nation's crimes against humanity, put themselves in shoes of the bereaved families of Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Iraqis and Afghanis, Panamanians. Could we even imagine such bombings upon US towns and countryside? We can improve the whole world and ourselves with such imagination, or at least take serious their individual portion of the collective accountability, responsibility for the actions of their government in its unlawful use of America's military power in their name.
That is what we enshrined in the Nuremberg trials. We held Germans responsible and the Germans benefited greatly from accepting responsibility
Appreciative of your promises, and expecting your help,
At your service - faithfully,
Jay Janson, Veterans For Peace
"Yours truly, was during eight years in the 1990s, Assistant Conductor of the Vietnam Symphony Orchestra in Hanoi."
Hmmm. Janson says he's a veteran, but is somewhat squeamish about mentioning his actual service. His bio on OpEd News doesn't mention it, saying only:
Musician and writer, who has lived and worked on all the continents and whose articles on media have been published in China, Italy, England and the US, and now resides in New York City.
He says here that he was 70 years of age, making him now 72. He also says:
Six of my bunkmates in basic training are buried in North Korea. I can shed tears for them, they were young men — they wanted to live just as all the Korean relatives of my Korean students would have rather lived than die in a war over the economic confrontation of our country with the Soviet Union.
Uh huh. Well, if he did fight the communist North Koreans in the 1950s, he apparently holds them no ill will, declaring here "Obama Calls on U.N. to Punish North Korea Over Rocket, But Who Punishes The U.S.?"
Obama has called for the United Nations to punish North Korea for its rocket launch. Has North Korea not been punished enough? New and greater saanctions are called for by Obama. When is the U.S. ever punished for its transgressions against humanity?
Obama said the invasion of Iraq was "dumb." Who punishes the U.S. for the nearly one million Iranians dead and a greater number of maimed?
Who punishes the U.S. for five million deaths in the invasion and the effects of the carpet bombings of the colonial populations of French Indochina.
North Korea was bombed to rubble by the U.S. which also leveled almost every town in South Korea to prevent the overthrow of the U.S. sponsored Rhee dictatorship (Rhee was forced to flee the country a few years after the war anyway). The war had been over, the North having won easily except for the final city of Pusan when the U.S. invaded subsequently punishing Korea with millions of casualties. The U.S. can never
Not many years ago, the president of a civilian government in South Korea apologized to its people for the massacres that happened there even years after the U.S. 'police action' was over. (War was never declared by Congress on North Korea.)
I guess he doesn't go to many unit reunions these days. I don't blame him. His opinions wouldn't be very popular there.
Real Korean War veterans, the kind I grew up listening to late nights at my Dad's beer bashes when they thought all the wives and kids were asleep, remembered the Korean War rather differently. They remembered things like this:
American POW executed by North Korean People's Army, 1950.
Maybe this is one of Janson's dead Army buddies. Or maybe they died at the hands of the NKPA in the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre in October, 1950, when the fall of Pyongyang appeared imminent, about 180 American POWs were loaded into open railroad cars for transport northward. These men were survivors of the Seoul-Pyongyang death march and were weak from lack of food, water, and medical care. They rode unprotected in the raw climate for 4 or 5 days, arriving at the Sunchon tunnel on October 30, 1950. Late in the afternoon, the prisoners were taken from the railroad cars in alternate groups of approximately 40 to nearby ravines, ostensibly to receive their first food in several days. There they were ruthlessly shot by North Korean soldiers, using Russian burp guns. One hundred and thirty-eight American soldiers lost their lives in this atrocity.
Or maybe they were victims of the Taejon Massacre, 27 September 1950, when about 60 American POWs who had been confined in Taejon prison were taken into the prison yard in groups of 14, with their hands wired together. Forced to sit hunched in hastily dug ditches, they were then shot by NKPA soldiers at point blank range, with American M-1 rifles, using armor-piercing ammunition. Of the 2 seriously wounded survivors, only 1 lived to tell the tale.
Or maybe they were among the five American airmen in a truck convoy were ambushed by North Korean forces in December of 1950 whose bodies, discovered shortly after by a South Korean patrol, showed that their flesh had been punctured in as many as 20 different areas with heated, sharpened bamboo sticks. Said an Air Force surgeon who examined the bodies, the torture was so fiendish that no one perforation was sufficient to cause death by itself.
Or maybe they were victims of the Naedae murders on 13 October 1950 where 12 captured GIs were shot without warning by North Koreans. Although wounded, five managed to survive by feigning death. Ironically, the killings took place in front of a Communist propaganda bulletin board showing posters condemning alleged United Nations war atrocities.
Or maybe they died in the Chaplain-Medic Massacre where NKPA troops slaughtered approximately 20 seriously wounded American soldiers. These soldiers were being administered aid by the regimental surgeon wearing the Red Cross armband, and an Army chaplain wearing the Christian cross, neither of whom were armed. The Communists killed the Chaplain but the surgeon, although wounded, managed to survive and escape.
Or maybe they were among the patrol of 13 GIs ambushed and captured by a large force of North Koreans near Kaesong on 6 November 1950. The prisoners were stripped of their belongings and taken to a small hut, where they were confined for about 3 hours. They were then ordered to march about two miles when they were shot without warning from behind. One survived by feigning death.
The lessons of those atrocities were the ones that my father's friends took away from Korea. The memories haunted their nightmares for years afterward. They, the fallen and the survivors, are the ones we should remember this Memorial Day.
And piss on collectivists like Jay Janson. It is apparent from his quote above that he would have rather that South Korea been subjugated under the Communist boot.
This is the convicting sentence:
The war had been over, the North having won easily except for the final city of Pusan when the U.S. invaded subsequently punishing Korea with millions of casualties.
That tells you all you need to know about who he really worships. So don't believe his crocodile tears spilled for innocents caught in wars. If they were killed by Communists, they would be merely excusable adjuncts of the people's war.
Janson is a "Veteran for Peace" all right -- the peace of the grave. Collectivists always define peace as the absence of opposition.
Memorial Day to Janson is just another excuse to bash America in furtherance of the "international class struggle." He won't use words like that, but it is nonetheless true.
And that, dear friends, is how collectivists celebrate Memorial day.
LATER: I emailed Janson, asking where and when he served.
----- Original Message -----
To: Jay Janson
From: Mike Vanderboegh
Sent: Monday, May 25, 2009 12:22:21 PM
I see you are a member of Veterans for Peace. Where and when did you serve?
This is what I received in return --
Date Sent: 05/25/2009
Subject: Served Capitalist Imperialism during Korea 'police action"