WHERE HAVE ALL THE COLLIE FLOWERS GONE: It’s dead soldier day again. People are honoring those who took the lives of others for no reason other than that they were young and stupid and were told to do so by demented old men who sought to plunder, rape and pillage.
Not us. Today we honor the veterans of anti-war movements throughout history.
In our lifetime every war in which our country has engaged has been an invasive, imperialistic debacle waged at the behest of profiteers and in the name of raw power.
And the one thing they have in common is that when we all “wake up” afterward we are left with a generation of cripples- both physical and mental- and a bunch of tombstones.
Every dead soldier died in vain. There never was a noble cause or even a valid one. The soldiers died protecting nothing but greed and avarice.
The notion that soldiers protected our right to say this is ludicrous. Every war has been accompanied by a diminution of our constitutional rights. Those that fought against the war are the ones who kept free speech alive in the face of depraved and often felonious attempts of the war mongers to stifle it.
Only a true coward kills because they are told to do so. But there have been a few truly courageous young men and women that have been there to say no- we will not go and kill for your plunder. We will not demonize and dehumanize to enable those without the guts to stand up and say no to that which they know to be wrong to pull a trigger and delay the remorse until they get home- if they get home.
Recently someone we know wrote of how he was duped into fighting in Viet Nam- the most common of all excuses for homecoming soldiers for why they went and “fought for their country”. He claimed he had no way of knowing that fighting against communism, domino theories and the Asian menace wasn’t the right thing to do because “no one told me”.
Bullcrap- you just weren’t listening. The writer claimed that there weren’t even any real anti-war activates until 1967 when the fact is that there were major anti-war demonstrations in all major cities in 1965 and many going back to 1961... and some earlier.
No one can tell us it wasn’t a choice made. If by the time you were 18 you hadn’t heard people say that sending young people to die for the demented politics and overflowing wallets of so-called “leaders” you just weren’t listening... to us or even Republican Ike when he spoke of the danger of the military-industrial complex.
Starting in 1965 when this mangy mutt was but a 13 year old pup, many afternoons were spent at the American Friends’ Service committee offices advising young men on how to get out of the draft.
In those days you had two choices- kill or go to jail unless you could show your particular religious upbringing forbade you from fighting and killing in a war. And you had to have a note from your religious leader stating this was true and you, uniquely and individually, were a conscientious objector... in which case you still had to serve the war effort, they just didn’t give you a gun but instead a bed pan.
But there was a book called 4F that listed all of the physical anomalies and illnesses that would enable you to move your 1A designation - aka “cannon fodder”- to the medically excused 4F classification.
This draft-counseling dingo-coyote never lost a client. College deferments were very popular. But if frat life wasn’t your cup o’ tea and you couldn’t find a physical deferment on your own, we’d find one for you- or even make one up. And if that was too hard in those days they “asked” and the right answer could get you out.
If all else failed it was the old licking-the-peanut-butter-off-your-butt-in-front-of-the-sergeant dodge or a similarly bizarre act... we even held rehearsals. And there was always Canada where AFSC had a network set up to welcome you and find you a place to live and even a job.
But you’d be surprised at how many honest kids there were who wanted out of the draft. So finally, along with a fellow draft-counselor who himself was approaching draft age, we wrote and filed the first successful “conscientious objector” filing for someone without a religious background.
And we couldn’t help but notice what was going on in the next office where the walking wounded coming back from the war congregated to bemoan their prior fate.
They didn’t always show physical scars. The trick was to allow them to use their mental anguish to express their anger at a system that had robbed them of their youth, health and integrity.
They organized against the nonsense and told others- like the ones who really didn’t know any better- why despite what their parents and the politicians told them there was no “just cause” or “noble service”, just the depraved ravings of lunatics and fearful little minds who waged war for peace, forced servitude for justice, imprisoned for freedom and killed for life.
We say this not to just tell a story but to show that like most, it was nobody’s fault if you were ignorant in the early 60’s but had a revelation in 1969 just as it was if you believed the 2003 lies and finally had a revelation in 2006 or 2007.
If a 13-year-old knew better, why didn’t you?
They say it’s different now that the draft has been temporarily suspended- even though it is still mandatory to register- but the rhetoric remains the same.
Returning Iraq vets still say “you never told us they were lying before the war. All of us believed the lies.”
Bullcrap. Millions screamed from the rooftops about blood for oil and a lying maniac and his butchers in the White House and serving in Congress. You just didn’t listen.
Meanwhile some obviously tortured souls now, as then, continue to want us to actually honor those that should have known better... and in many cases did but signed up anyway.
Some may say we are being cruel to those who lost sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts and fathers and mothers. But the real cruelty is that the Dead Soldier Day rhetoric gives aggrieved people a lie to believe in to fool and delude themselves and eventually to tell to their kids and grandkids fooling generations into thinking that it is, was or will ever be in any way an honorable thing to be a soldier- alive or dead.
It is not that all those that grieve on Memorial Day are perpetuating the myths Cindy Sheehan grieves for her son Casey. But as to those that must accept and repeat the lies to rationalize the waste of their dead relatives’ lives it is even sadder still to see them cling to the notion that their kin did not die in vain and served and died honorably.
For that they should be ashamed of themselves because by perpetuating that myth they prospectively kill again. They’ve now become the ones the kids wrongly believe before marching off to kill someone else they never met.
And so we honor those who did not serve, those who tried to warn others, those that resisted the draft and later those that didn’t fall for the “army with the condos” scam, those who didn’t sell their soul for a college education, from those who were harassed beaten and jailed in Washington and Chicago in the 60’s to those harassed, beaten and jailed in NYC at the Republican Convention in 2004 to everyone who participated in every demonstration, organizing meeting, puppet show, pentagon levitating, and letter writing session in between.
Those are the honorable- those are the ones whose service to their country we should remember and honor today.
Those who listened in the early 60’s- no matter what their age- had a lot to listen to....as do kids today, as will kids tomorrow.
As long as people speak out, kids will see through the charade of honorable war and they won’t go and fight and kill and die for nothing.
We’ll leave you with three examples of the information available to those considering the murderous life from way back when- the first in some words written by a lady that lives down the street that were popular in 1965 about who’s really to blame, the second by a kid we saw at Gertie’s Folk City in ’61 who wrote words in 1964 about taking sides, the third by an unfortunate son who survived the 60’s to write again in 2007 telling us not to take it any more.
Universal Soldier by Buffy Sainte-Marie
( “I wrote "Universal Soldier" in the basement of The Purple Onion coffee house in Toronto in the early sixties. It's about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all. Donovan had a hit with it in 1965.”)
He's five feet two and he's six feet fourHe fights with missiles and with spearsHe's all of 31 and he's only 17He's been a soldier for a thousand yearsHe's a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain,a Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jewand he knows he shouldn't kill and he knows he always willkill you for me my friend and me for youAnd he's fighting for Canada, he's fighting for France,he's fighting for the USA,and he's fighting for the Russians and he's fighting for Japan, and he thinks we'll put an end to war this wayAnd he's fighting for Democracyand fighting for the RedsHe says it's for the peace of allHe's the one who must decide who's to live and who's to dieand he never sees the writing on the wallsBut without him how would Hitler have condemned him at DachauWithout him Caesar would have stood aloneHe's the one who gives his body as a weapon to a warand without him all this killing can't go onHe's the universal soldier and he really is to blameHis orders come from far away no moreThey come from him, and you, and meand brothers can't you seethis is not the way we put an end to war
With God on Our Side
by Bob Dylan
Oh my name it is nothin'My age it means lessThe country I come fromIs called the MidwestI's taught and brought up thereThe laws to abideAnd that land that I live inHas God on its side.Oh the history books tell itThey tell it so wellThe cavalries chargedThe Indians fellThe cavalries chargedThe Indians diedOh the country was youngWith God on its side.Oh the Spanish-AmericanWar had its dayAnd the Civil War tooWas soon laid awayAnd the names of the heroesI's made to memorizeWith guns in their handsAnd God on their side.Oh the First World War, boysIt closed out its fateThe reason for fightingI never got straightBut I learned to accept itAccept it with prideFor you don't count the deadWhen God's on your side.When the Second World WarCame to an endWe forgave the GermansAnd we were friendsThough they murdered six millionIn the ovens they friedThe Germans now tooHave God on their side.I've learned to hate RussiansAll through my whole lifeIf another war startsIt's them we must fightTo hate them and fear themTo run and to hideAnd accept it all bravelyWith God on my side.But now we got weaponsOf the chemical dust If fire them we're forced toThen fire them we mustOne push of the buttonAnd a shot the world wideAnd you never ask questionsWhen God's on your side.In a many dark hourI've been thinkin' about thisThat Jesus ChristWas betrayed by a kissBut I can't think for youYou'll have to decideWhether Judas IscariotHad God on his side.So now as I'm leavin'I'm weary as HellThe confusion I'm feelin'Ain't no tongue can tellThe words fill my headAnd fall to the floorIf God's on our sideHe'll stop the next war.
I Can't Take It No More
by John Fogerty (2007)I Can't Take It No MoreI Can't Take It No MoreI'm sick and tired of your dirty little warI Can't Take It No MoreYou know you lied about the casualtiesYou know you lied about the WMD'sYou know you lied about the detaineesAll over this worldStop talking about staying the courseYou keep a-beating that old dead horseYou know you lied about how we went to warI Can't Take It No MoreI can't take itI can't take itI bet you never saw the old school yardI bet you never saw the national guardYour daddy wrote a check and there you areAnother fortunate sonI can't take it no moreI can't take it no moreI'm sick and tired of your dirty little warI can't take it no moreI can't take it no moreI can't take it no moreI'm sick and tired of your dirty little warI can't take it no more