War Should Only Be Electronic

Today I talked with one of the vets that visit the eye clinic I work at. Mr. Vet told me he was in Vietnam in '64. We talked about how some vets still don't talk about what happened to them and some do. He told me a story about how he was sitting at a campfire one night and over at a second campfire, where the other half of his unit was eating, a little boy came up to the group with a grenade strapped to his back, and when he pulled a string attached to the pin he blew himself and everyone else up. The Vet was eating soup when this happened. Later during the war a little boy walked up to Mr. Vet and Mr. vet shot him. Everyone thought Mr. Vet was crazy, but when they turned the boy's body over he also had a grenade strapped to his back.

What if the boy didn't have a grenade strapped to him? What would this do to a person? Even if he did have that grenade, what's it done to Mr. Vet? He loves to watch COPS, I know that. Yes, I see all these sad, strange vets come in week in and week out (we have a VA day every week) and a surprising amount of them talk to me about whatever war they were in. I once talked to an atomic veteran, a guy who was one of the first outsiders to visit Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. He said everything was swimming in maggots. Bodies, buildings, whatever.

Most people know war is bad. They say hey, war is hell. No more war. And then they put up this little wall seperating their "civilian" lives and the warfront that makes their civilian lives possible. I am one such person, though I did skim the surface of a Vietnam vet in a book I wrote. My stepdad is a Vietnam vet, though. He loves to talk about it, though of course he didn't have to kill anyone, just pour concrete for runways. He was shot at once while a eating a sandwich. He dove behind some sandbags and finished the sandwich. He lights up when he talks about the machines and people he knew in the war, does sound effects and everything. I cannot comprehend this, except it somehow shows what a wonderful guy he is.

I would like war to exist only in a video game format. War video games are already very popular with our troops in Iraq. That, and gambling. The army makes a buttload off slot machines and bingo. What's a few dollars for a slot machine when you are gambling your life every time you step outside?


Lucas said...

As someone who has read lots of war books (WWII all; mostly dealing with the Pacific side of the war) I know how hearing about it can be really awful. I'm usually a big "head in the bucket" kind of girl, ignorance is bliss and all that. But when it comes to war, my theory is that if these young men and women had to live that hell, and it took their lives or left them wounded or scarred, forever changing their lives as they knew them, the least I can do to honor them is to read about it. To inform myself of what it was like and to thank the vets every time I see them. You talk to every single one that comes in David, and tell them Lucas says thanks!

Brady said...

The week of 9/11 the Inspektor journeyed to a campground on a lake. It was a campground for veterans. There were many RVs parked in a little village next to the lake. The Inspektor walked around looking for people to talk to. He found an old RV with a picnic table outside painted like an American flag. The man living there came out in camouflage pants. He was not wearing a shirt and he was smoking. He sat on the American flag picnic table and said that he was seeing the bodies in Vietnam again. He'd been seeing them for decades. He couldn't sleep.

Something dirty said...

my brother got back from Iraq about 18 months ago. i think he will probably have to go again, there or aghanistan, it's just a matter of time.

Blogagaard said...

Something, what's your brother think about Iraq and the policy behind it? Does he feel he's simply doing his duty by going wherver the US government sends him, or does he really believe going to Iraq was the right thingto do? It is strange how the past repeats itself. GRowing up in the 80's I always thought, No way. No way we would the US get itself bogged down in another Vietnam. It seemed liek such an obvious mistake in retrospect, there was NO WAY it would happen again. Now, here we are 2,000 U.S. casualities and counting.

Something dirty said...

He is pro-Bush and for the war. Or he was the last time we had a highly strained conversation about it. My parents aren't anymore, so there's been some progress! I also have 2 cousins and a couple of friends over there.

I've thought a lot about how this mindset of blindly following comes about, I've begun to think it's natural to humans to follow the leader. It helps them feel safe to be in the herd.

But how do we get out of Iraq now? I could go on for hours, it's so so messed up.

neha said...

some people call veterinary doctors vets for short. you got me really confused.

Blogagaard said...

I am sorry, Neha, but this makes the debate even more interesting. Would dogs make the ultimate super soldiers? Should cats have grenades strapped to their backs which they can detonate by batting string? Should we train doves to claw out the eyes of opposing soldiers?

neha said...

no, david, i dont think that is the right question.

the right question i think is, 'whom is the war fought for? and who fights it?'

then we can know whether bringing in cats and dogs will help or not.

mikey said...

If anything, I think war is increasingly becoming like a video game.

One of my friends' brother is now a tank commander, using the newest tank the army has. Apparently, it's like playing a god damned video game, driving it around and shooting things.

Besides the grunts on the ground doing the dirty work, a lot of the 'face to face' combat has been taken away from war. Guys sitting in some bunker just click a mouse, and a missle is launched. They don't even have to look into anyone's eyes, although they can watch the fun on the built in camera.

I agree with lucas about reading up on war, if for no other reason then to have a realistic idea of it. Too many people today are completely ignorant about what it means to kill another human being.

Lucas, you can correct me if I'm wrong too, but 100% of any true war story type novels I've read end with the writer decrying how terrible war is, and that they want nothing more to do with it ever again. It's a shame people don't put that lesson to use.

Something dirty said...

What about those trained dolphin mercenaries that were loose in the Gulf after Katrina?

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