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Showing posts with label Veteran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Veteran. Show all posts

Monday, November 11, 2019

Veteran’s Day - A Holiday Reflection


Today is Veteran’s Day, November 11th.

Today we commemorate the anniversary of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars, we were told, though regrettably it was not.

I am a veteran, as is my father and some few of my friends (very few).

From the end of World War I, until 1954, we celebrated this day as Armistice Day, as a remembrance of that moment in that first great-global-conflict, when the fighting stopped along the lines, in the trenches at the fronts.

It stopped suddenly, it stopped all at once.

It came to a halt at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month; as if the war had a director who yelled “cut!” And all the actors on the stage, all the pawns in the field, all the millions of people in their graves could get up from what they were doing and go home.

That is not what happened.

That never happens.

Nearly twenty million people were killed in World War I, twenty million families broken, with many millions more suffering in the aftermath.

World War I was perceived by those who endured it as so horrible that it would end war itself, end it for all time, but that would not be the case.

The gods of war are busy, always
The conflicts they sew never end, not ever
We hunger and we thirst for war
It is the failure of humanity

Today is the feast of Saint Martin of Tours. He is the patron saint of soldiers, St. Martin of the Sword, he is called.

Saint Martin was the first Christian Soldier.

It was in recognition of him, and his feast that this date was selected to bring World War I to a close.

It might have come sooner for the soldiers in the struggle, but the politicians acting like art directors wanted to wait for a symbolic moment, to bring the curtain down.

11:11:11

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, it was easy to remember.   

Pope, Saint Gregory the Great, the man who gave us the modern calendar, he was the one who penned Saint Martin’s hagiography. Though it is not likely that Martin ever even lived. Most of Gregory’s writings were works of fiction, either cut from whole cloth, or steeped and dyed from a scintilla of truth.

All the great Popes were great prevaricators, and great recipients of the penchant for falsehood.

Even if the life of Saint Martin was based on the life of a real person, his hagiography is a fiction nevertheless, our celebration of him is a piece of propaganda, it is just another terrible lie.

Saint Martin’s hagiography is a fable, penned with a terrible purpose, through it Pope Saint Gregory gave permission for Christians to takes up arms.

He gave Christian soldiers leave to march to war, a vocation which had been theretofore forbidden to the followers of Jesus, and a matter of deep contention in the Church.

The spirits of conflict have a will of their own…their will is our own human nature.

There is no god of war, there are only human pretenders.

In 1954, President Eisenhower, the man who had been the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, he changed the nature of the November 11th holiday; from Armistice to Veteran’s Day, in honor of all Veterans who had fought in any conflict, anywhere in the world.

Friend or foe, ally or adversary, we celebrate the courage of the average person, woman or man, who was willing to risk everything for their tribe, their nation or their clan.

That is what we celebrate today on Veteran’s Day.

We do not celebrate the end of war, because it seems that war itself will never end.

We do not celebrate the fictional life of a fictional saint, whose usefulness as a tool of propaganda suggested that it was possible to serve Jesus with a sword, and we do not celebrate the lie that peace could ever be the fruit of war.

The fruit of peace springs from a different seed altogether.

What we celebrate today is the character of those men and women who have had the courage to enlist, to risk their lives for the sake of their sisters and brothers, whether at home or beside them in the field.

We should always celebrate that quality of character, while simultaneously naming the flaws in our own that lead us to war; fear and greed, anger and hatred, all of our calamitous attributes.

The spirits of conflict have a will of their own…the children of Aries; Fear, Panic and Strife, they own a piece of us each of us.

We are possessed.

One hundred years after the end of World War I, we are still waging war all around the world. We the United States of America are waging war in Afghanistan, in Africa, selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, fighting a war by proxy with Iran in Yemen, and feeding other conflicts in every sector of the globe.

I served in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, from 1990 – 1994.

I served during the first Gulf War, though I did not serve in the theatre of combat where we killed 300,000 Iraqi people in the space of a few months.

My father served for twenty-two years; the first four as a Marine, the next eighteen in the Air Force. Our nation went to war once during that time, in Southeast Asia where my father served multiple tours of duty, a war in which we killed 3,000,000 people of Vietnam.

We have killed millions more in many other nations in the decades since then, leaving millions of families broken.

We are terrible, profligate killers, we are experts at it, we Americans.

In the last few weeks we have been talking about how the President of the United States sold out the Kurdish people, a people without a country who have been serving, fighting and dying beside us for the last several years in our conflict with the soldiers of the Islamic State,

He sold them out to the Turks, who immediately set out on a campaign of ethnic cleansing against them. Those same Kurdish people in the weeks leading up to Donald Trump’s betrayal of them, turned over intelligence that led to the killing of the ISIS leader, and Donald Trump took credit for that.

We have been talking about how the President of the United States, in an effort to extort the people of Ukraine withheld vital military support from them, support they needed to defend themselves from the constant pressure of Russian incursion, he withheld that aid because he thought it would benefit his own narrow political interests, and because he believed it would benefit a man he is beholden too; Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.

Today that same man will participate in a ceremony that honors the lives of fallen soldiers, a man who never served, who lied to avoid the draft, a man without a shred of honor.

It remains true that every bullet we fire, every missile we launch, each of them is an admission of our failure as diplomats and as human beings.

Violence does not beget peace. Violence it begets violence, and so it will always be that way.

Only peace and reconciliation can bring about peace reconciliation.

Love one another; pay respect to the inherent dignity of every human being, regardless of your disagreements, regardless of the pain you are carrying from your past.

To be free from the repercussions of our history of violence requires that we forgive one another and seek forgiveness for ourselves.

If you want to honor our Veteran’s then commit yourself to meet conflict with love, respect all people, even your adversary, this is the thanks you can give to a Veteran today.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Flag Folding - Editorial, The Week in Review


Analysis, Commentary, Opinion
12.08.2018

Flag Folding


I am a veteran, but I am not super patriotic.

I am averse to jingoism in all of its forms.

I haven’t stood for the national anthem since 911, and after the wars began in Afghanistan and Iraq, because I am against the unconstitutional use of military power.

I am against torture. I am against the policies of extraordinary rendition, against holding prisoners taken from the battlefield without extending to them the protections that should be afforded to every human being who is under the aegis of American power.

I am against it.

But I witnessed a simple little something last night that tugged at my heart strings a little bit.

My lady and I were at a local tavern; it was Friday night and we stepped out for a burger and beer.

This little bar, Pat’s Tap, it’s not a VFW, or an American Legion hall. It’s just a bar that happens to have a flag pole out front, and the owner flies the flag out front, both the Stars and Stripes, and the State flag of Minnesota.

The owner of this place owns a number of bars and restaurants around town, and to my knowledge this is the only with a flag pole.

The flag pole came with the property, and she kept the custom of flying our flags here intact.

We arrived there at about sundown, and where we were seated, facing the door we were able to watch as two of the staff members brought the flags down, carried them carefully inside and gave them each a proper fold.

It touched me.

Pat’s Tap is just a neighborhood place, middle class, with decent food and games.

They have Skee Ball, it’s vaguely a rock n’ roll place.

These ladies brought the flags down, carried them in. They were careful to ensure that they did not touch the floor. They folded it into a neat little triangle, she said, “as the Scout manual instructed them too.”

I asked her about it. She told me it was just what they did. She seemed happy to talk about it, and proud for her part, in caring for the symbols of our nation and our state.

It made me feel good.  

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day set aside for reflection. It is meant for us to honor our fallen dead.
The meaning of this day has changed much since its founding. At its inception, it was meant to honor our African American soldiers, both the soldiers born-free and the former slaves who gave their lives, men and women, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters who gave everything they had, to keep the union whole.
They died for an America which they only dreamed could exist. They died for these United States, for this reality, an America that is still in a state of becoming.
They died for us, for good or ill, they died for us.
We have yet to repay them, to fulfill their hopes for the America they dreamt of; America, daughter of liberty, of truth, and justice.
We honor our dead on this day; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them. We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who give their days to public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and those yet to come.
This year we must honor two men who gave their lives, just days ago, on a train in Portland, Oregon. The stood up to man who was berating two Muslim women. The man turned and attacked them with a knife, killing them before he fled.
We must honor them, and their sacrifice, they died upholding our most cherished values, that recognition that we are one people come from many nations, and that we each come into the world with the absolute right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  
On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free. It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.
We do not face such a threat right now; not from ISIS, not from North Korea, not from Russia, not from anywhere.
The real threat we face is from ourselves, from our ignorance, and from our fear, the mind killer, the little death that brings total obliteration, we must face that fear and confront it.
It is we, and we alone, who can protect us from ourselves.
Our own apathy, our prejudice, and our hatred, these are more dangerous forces aligned against us, against our freedom. They are more deadly than any power in the world.
To honor our fallen dead, you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.
Vote, stay informed, organize, build alliances, and collaborate.
Our collective failure has placed a criminal, autocratic, demagogue in the White House, allowed the Supreme Court to state that corporations are to be treated as people, and money regarded as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that the right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that the right to vote does not include the guarantee that your vote will be counted.
This rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking across our borders, looking to us for a better way of life, as my own forebears did when they came here.
Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism and bigotry, to religious zealotry and corporate greed, to scientific ignorance and xenophobia, and corruption in our public officials, in our highest offices.
Honor them by participating in our public discourse. Do not lose heart, and do not give up.
We must rebuild America, reform our institutions, for the sake of Americans and our future generations. We must take responsibility for your own freedom.
Honor the fallen, in this way.
Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994
Given 1st 2015.05.25, Revised 2016.05.31

Revised 2017.05.29

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day. November 11th. I am a veteran; as is my father, and some few of my friends.

From the end of World War I, until 1954, we celebrated this day as Armistice Day, as a remembrance of the moment in that first great-global conflict; when the fighting stopped along the lines, stopped suddenly, stopped all at once, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month; as if the director of the war yelled “cut!” And all the actors on the stage, the pawns in their trenches, the people lying in their graves got up from what they were doing and went home.

That is not what happened. Sixteen million people were killed in World War I, sixteen million families broken, and many millions more suffering in the aftermath. It was perceived by those who endured it as so horrible that it was sure to be the war to end all wars, but that would not be the case.

The gods of war are busy. The conflicts they sew never ends.

Today is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. He is the patron saint of soldiers; St. Martin of the Sword. He was the first Christian Soldier. It was in recognition of him, and his feast that this date was selected, to bring a halt to World War I.  

Pope, Saint Gregory the Great, who gave us our calendar, penned his hagiography. Though it is not likely that Martin ever even lived. The hagiography was a fiction, our celebration of Saint Martin, just a lie. It was a fable with a purpose, through it Pope Gregory gave permission to Christians to takes up arms. He gave Christian soldiers leave to march to war.

The spirits of conflict have a will of their own…their will is our own.

In 1954, President Eisenhower, who had been the Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, he changed the nature of the November 11th Holiday. He changed it from Armistice Day, to Veteran’s Day, in honor of all Veterans who had fought in any conflict, anywhere in the world.

That is what we celebrate today.

We do not celebrate the end of war, because war’s never end. We do not celebrate the fictional life of a fictional saint, whose usefulness as a propaganda tool suggested that it was possible to serve Jesus, with a sword, and that peace is the fruit of violence. We celebrate the character of those who have had the courage to enlist, to risk their lives for the lives of their sisters and brothers, whether at home or beside them in the field.

The spirits of conflict have a will of their own…the children of Aries; Fear, Panic, Strife, they own us. We are possessed.

We are still waging war all around the world, we the United States of America are waging war; in Iraq, in Afghanistan, arming rebels in Syria, selling weapons, and feeding other conflicts in every sector of the globe.

I served in the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, from 1990 – 1994.

I did not serve in that theatre where we killed 300,000 Iraqis in the space of a few months.

My father served for twenty-two years; the first four as a Marine, and then eighteen in the Air Force. Our nation went to war only once during that time, in Vietnam, where my father served multiple tours of duty, we killed 3,000,000 Vietnamese.

We have killed millions more in many other nations in the decades since.

Millions of families broken.

We are terrible, we are profligate killers of our fellow human beings. Every bullet we fire, every missile we launch, each of them is an admission of our failure as diplomats.

Violence does not beget peace, it begets violence. Peace and reconciliation bring Peace.


Love one another; pay respect to the inherent dignity of every human being, regardless of your disagreements, regardless of the pain you are carrying from your past. Commit yourself to meet conflict with love, and respect, this is the thanks you can give to a Veteran today. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a day set aside; and meant for us to honor our fallen dead.
The meaning of this day has changed much since its inception. Originally, it was meant to honor our African American soldiers; both free and former slaves who gave their lives, both men and women, both mothers and fathers, sons and daughters both, to keep the union whole.
They died for an America they only dreamed existed. They died for these United States; for this reality, which is still in a state of becoming. They died for us; for good or ill, they died for us.
We honor our dead; our soldiers and sailors and airmen, our police and firefighters; we honor them. We honor all of our citizens who spent their lives, who spend their lives in public service; we honor our doctors and nurses and teachers, the good works of our ordinary citizens, of our friends and neighbors, we honor everyone’s sacrifices; known and unknown, and yet to come.
On this day of all days, do not make the mistake of thinking that it is our service women and men who keep us free. It has been at least sixty years since America faced an “existential” threat from a foreign power.
The real threat we face is from ourselves. It is only we; who can protect us from ourselves.
Our own apathy, our prejudice, and our ignorance; these are more dangerous to us, to our freedom, than any power in the world. To honor our fallen dead; you must do your part to keep us free. You must participate in our democracy.
Vote, stay informed, organize.
Our collective failure has allowed the Supreme Court to name corporations as people, and money as free speech, while those same justices have told ordinary American’s that the right to free speech does not include the right to be heard, and that the right to vote does not include the guarantee that your vote will be counted.
That rank cynicism is more dangerous to our freedom than any rag tag group of militants half way around the world, more dangerous than immigrants looking to us for a better way of life, as my forebears did when they came here.
Honor our fallen dead. Not with cards and flowers and barbeques (but do those things because they are good), honor them by standing up to racism, bigotry, religious zealotry, corporate greed, scientific ignorance, xenophobia, and corruption in public officials; honor them by participating.
Rebuild America, reform our institutions, for the sake of Americans and our future generations. Take responsibility for your own freedom. Honor the fallen.
Jay P. Botten, Veteran, U.S.N., Hospital Corps, 1990 – 1994
Given 1st 2015.05.25

Revised 2016.05.31

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran’s Day

Today is Veteran’s Day. I am a veteran; and so is my father.

I served in the Navy; as a Hospital Corpsman. My enlistment was for four years, from 1990 – 1994; a standard contract that I entered into so that I could earn some money for college. I had few other options; coming from a poor family, and being a high school dropout. Our nation went to war only once during that time; the first Gulf War began four months into my term of service.

I did not go into that theater where we killed 300,000 Iraqis, in the space of a few months.

My father served for twenty-two years; the first four as a Marine, and then eighteen more in the Air Force. He was an air traffic controller. Our nation went to war only once during that time, in Vietnam (though there were other smaller conflicts throughout the world, the Cold War, The Bay of Pigs…). We killed 3,000,000 Vietnamese.
            
My father served multiple tours of duty in Vietnam.

Our nation has recently been to war in Iraq a second time, a study published in the Lancet: The British Journal of Medicine, estimated that we killed upwards of a million more Iraqis.[1] One and a half million people killed by us in the space of thirteen years; between 1991 and 2004, with many more since then. Our government denied this number; saying that they did not keep accurate records of casualties.

The spirits of conflict have a will of their own…Aries, Nemesis, Strife.

We are waging war around the world still; in Iraq, in Afghanistan. No reliable information has been gathered about how many Afghans have been killed, since it began in 2001. Some commentators, most in fact; call it America’s longest war, though in truth we should all know it was not longer than our engagement in Vietnam, where my father’s generation fought and killed and died.

Today is November 11th. We used to celebrate this day as Armistice Day, to remember the end of World War I; when the fighting stopped along the lines, stopped suddenly, all at once at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month; as if the director of the war yelled “cut!” And all the actors on the stage, the pawns in their trenches, the people lying in their graves got up from what they were doing and went home. But that is not what happened. Sixteen million people were killed in that war, and it was perceived by those who endured it as so horrible that it was sure to be the war to end all wars, but that would not be the case.

Today is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. He is the patron saint of soldiers; St. Martin of the Sword, the first Christian Soldier.

Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who gave us our calendar (among other things), penned his hagiography, though it is not likely that Martin ever even lived, making the story of his life just a lie. In writing his story Pope Gregory gave permission to Christians to takes up arms; giving Christian soldiers leave to march off to war.

The spirits of conflict have a will of their own…sometimes their will is our own.

Forty Days of Haiku, Day 18, Veteran’s Day

11:11

A November mist
Cool light, marries sky to earth
Red, the fallen leaf