Memorial Day

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BlaiseP

BlaiseP is the pseudonym of a peripatetic software contractor whose worldly goods can fit into an elderly Isuzu Rodeo. Bitter and recondite, he favors the long view of life, the chords of Steely Dan and Umphrey's McGee, the writings of William Vollman and Thomas Pynchon, the taste of red ale and his own gumbo. Having escaped after serving seven years of a lifetime sentence to confinement in hotel rooms, he currently resides in the wilds of Eau Claire County and contemplates the intersection of mixed SRID geometries in PostGIS.

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61 Responses

  1. Avatar Burt Likko
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    says:

    Thanks for posting this, Blaise. An important reminder of what the holiday is for.Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Too bad MSNBC host Chris Hayes doesn’t remember what this holiday is for.

      http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76799.htmlReport

        • Avatar Scott in reply to Tod Kelly
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          says:

          Tod:

          I agree, Haynes has no class. Why would anyone say such things about those that gave their lives?Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Scott
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            says:

            I’m curious. Do you know why he said what he did? Could you hazard a guess?Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tod Kelly
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              says:

              Because it’s true. The surest sign of an upcoming war is the burnishing-up of the legends of the prior war. America wants to make its war dead into heroes. It’s a disgusting bit of sublimation where we take ordinary men and women and put them on pedestals they never asked for. It is enough to remember their ordinary bravery, their ordinary lives. It is a desecration of their memories to make them into what they were not, a political Photoshopping of their true natures and identities. All this Heeeeroo bullshit is a fig leaf over our own dull stupidity, our credulous acceptance of the lies which sent these ordinary people off to die ignoble deaths and returned their bodies to their shattered families. Glorification is not fitting for their extraordinary sacrifices. We ought to remember them as they truly were.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tod Kelly
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              says:

              Hmm. Could it have anything to do with the fact that for the better part of a decade it was impossible to mention that Gulf War 2 was a horrible idea, justified by trumped-up “intelligence”, and a disaster for the very people it was supposed to “liberate”, without being accused of betraying our troops?Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                Mike:

                I”ll be honest, I think some of the criticism (some of which was unjustified) of those that protested GW2 was based on a defensive backlash born of the vitriol spewed by the left on Vietnam vets. Free, fair and honest discussion of this country’s policies and actions are part of what this country exceptional.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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                says:

                No such vitriol was ever spewed on the veterans of Vietnam. That is yet another lie which ought to be put to rest. I returned in 1971 to find the Left curious and sympathetic. All they wanted was the truth about the war itself. They, unlike the American Right, saw the war in SE Asia as a civil war, which in truth it was.

                I was still a Right Winger. It took Reagan’s lies about Iran Contra to convert me away from Republicans and the Right Wing. I had been partially turned away from the Right Wing by Nixon and his lies but I couldn’t see my way clear to be completely done with the Right. Reagan did it for me. Selling arms to our enemies, running away from Beirut and negotiating with hostage takers, that really did it for me. Reagan didn’t end the Cold War, either. That’s another lie. The USSR crumbled under the weight of its own lies, as we shall surely crumble under our freight of falsehoods.

                There never was any free or fair discussion about Iraq. You’re with us or against us. That’s what we got from the Neocons and the Bush Administration. All lies, all of it. The Right has been so completely discredited, now with three failed wars under its belt and not one victory to show for it. Iraq has become yet another Islamic State, so has Afghanistan.

                In short, when this country gets a bug up its ass about going to war, the last people anyone listens to are the veterans. We went to war on the basis of lies. We know to expect them from our government now.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Blaise:

                You are the only vet I’ve ever heard say that the left was “curious and sympathetic” to returning vets.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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                says:

                I’m the only Vietnam era vet you’ve ever met who was confronted by Lefties.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Scott
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                says:

                What he means is that the “leftists” who spit on people weren’t true Scotsmen–er, actual Leftists. Which, y’know, he isn’t wrong about.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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                says:

                Fvck you very much, Duck. You were still a little baby boy while I was shooting Commies so you could grow up big ‘n strong ‘n dumb as a freight car full of Dewalt hammers.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Scott
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                says:

                FWIW I came back from Vietnam in late 1970 (Marine Corps grunt). The only place where I even got a hint of rude treatment was the couple of times I foolishly stepped into a VFW post, hoping to share some time. The generation gap was huge. The WWII guys were…well, whatever. They had their own issues to deal with. The left? College students? Protesters? Curious, concerned, even helpful.

                Worked at a VA hospital for a time. Good care was given. Benefits were good and easily obtained.

                Anyway, that was my experience.

                I’m uncomfortable with being thanked. We shouldn’t have been there and we shouldn’t have been doing what we were doing. I was a part of a wrong thing. No thanks needed. And hero? Good lord…Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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                Thanks, Rex. VFW halls were a nightmare for me. When I went to the UK to university, the friends I made, the only ones who ever really understood what I’d been through were British Army vets, especially those of WW1.

                Tell you a true story. While I was in 3ID, in Germany, the division would conduct goodwill tours. All you had to do was wear your Class A uniform and you’d get to see a good deal of Europe. Knowing I spoke French, I was invited to a tour of a nursing home in eastern France.

                There was an old French soldier there, a poilu grunt who had served in the Marne Campaign. The Third Infantry Division is known as “Rock of the Marne”. The division took terrible casualties but they held, sending a famous dispatch back from the front, in French J’y reste ici, I’m staying here.

                This old poilu was convinced it was still 1921. We had brought maps of where 3ID had fought in France. He was most interested in seeing them, and though I was speaking French to him, was utterly convinced I was an American veteran of the Marne. Horrified, then darkly amused, I didn’t want to disabuse this old soldier. It was pointless, so I played along. He pointed out where his trenches had been, I pointed out where ours had been. He then began to speak about what he’d endured and the friends he’d lost, then burst into tears, the singular wretchedness of an old soldier imprisoned in his own mind, in 1921. He held onto me and wept horribly.

                The nurses began to weep. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.Report

              • Avatar Loviatar in reply to Scott
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                says:

                @rexknobus

                >”The only place where I even got a hint of rude treatment was the couple of times I foolishly stepped into a VFW post, hoping to share some time.”)

                >”Worked at a VA hospital for a time. Good care was given. Benefits were good and easily obtained.”<

                Big difference by the time the 90s rolled around at my local VA hospital. I had torn up my knee at jump school a few years earlier and when I was being discharged the officer in charge of my separation suggested I visit my local VA hospital and see about maybe getting disability or a least getting medical care for future knee problems. It was the worst and most heartbreaking experience in my life. Men who had given their all to their country being treated like shit. I walked around the building and saw herded into the hallway veterans with IVs and in wheelchairs, veterans barely able to stand leaning against the wall being ignored as they waited to see a nurse or doctor (way to treat our greatest generation heroes, huh). I walked out after about 10 minutes without ever speaking to a medical personnel and God help me I'll never return of my free will.

                All this occurred in the early 90s a short few years after Reagan and Bush began the now 30 year long process of gutting the VA and other social safety net programs to give tax cuts to the wealthy.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to Scott
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                says:

                Loviatar — Yeah, later experiences as a patient at a couple of VA hospitals confirms your story. Sad, frustrating, infuriating.

                And people still think the conservatives are friendly to soldiers.

                Hope your knee is better!Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Mr. P; you’re bringing a tear to my eye now. Early 70’s I went to visit my dying, senile old grandfather at a VA hospital. Grim, taciturn man through my childhood, but talking a blue-streak through his last days dementia when I visited. Turned out those years that he had disappeared, leaving my grandmother with three kids to tend, he had been in Pershing’s army, tending horses in France. He was speaking some pretty fluent French and telling all sorts of stories. Sixty-five years later and he could still smell the mud.

                If only we could stop glorifying this stuff and treat it as the tragedy it is.Report

              • Avatar Loviatar in reply to rexknobus
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                says:

                This comment got lost in my previous posting.

                >”The only place where I even got a hint of rude treatment was the couple of times I foolishly stepped into a VFW post, hoping to share some time.”)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to rexknobus
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                says:

                My grandfather taught himself telegraphy and spent the war safely ensconced in a French castle, ha ha.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to rexknobus
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                says:

                The WW2 guys were a strange bunch. The guys who freaked me out the most were the Army Air Force guys who’d flown over Germany. They took terrible casualties on a percentage basis.

                Randall Jarrell:
                Death of the Ball Turret Gunner:

                From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
                And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
                Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
                I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
                When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

                In the Civil War they called it Soldier’s Heart or Melancholia. In WW1 they used to call it Shell Shock. In my day, we called it Blowin’ Up. “Oh, so and so was on leave and Blew Up when the neighbour’s car backfired.” Me, I can’t go to Fourth of July fireworks shows. Maybe if I took an entrenching tool so I could dig a foxhole, then I’d feel better about it.

                I’m still uncomfortable in deep forest when the birds stop chirping. Something’s moving in the forest when the birds stop calling. That’s the last time I Blew Up. I think it’s rather like coming to terms with epilepsy: I had a girlfriend a long while back who was epileptic. She’d sense these auras coming on and we’d just use those few seconds get ready for the seizure, hunkering down, finding something to use as a bite stick.

                Those VFW types were still in denial about their own issues. They’d use VFW as a crutch, believing they were the only people who understood what they’d been through, hunkered down, drinking themselves into oblivion. But PTSD is surprisingly common. Victims of rape and domestic abuse are all acquainted with the terror. Victims of accidents are never quite the same. The Buddha taught us that to exist is to suffer. My cure came when I decided to find people worse off than myself and relieve their misery.Report

              • Avatar rexknobus in reply to rexknobus
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                says:

                Heh. “Blowin’ up.”

                Walking through the woods in the rain and lightning strikes about 50 feet away.

                The jets flying low, suddenly appearing overhead.

                Midnight. Vending machines. Thought I was alone — tapped on the shoulder. (then the drive to the emergency room — apologizing all the way!)Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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        says:

        Two more sets of images: Augusta’s Memorial Day parade. How small-town America does it

        From 2012-05-27 Augusta WI Memorial Day ParadeReport

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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        says:

        Ecch, here’s the deal from someone who’s been lauded with encomiums of that sort. It’s extremely squicky and it makes me highly agitated. I do not enjoy it, though others do. The real heroes are dead.

        But not all the dead are heroes. Let’s just leave it at that. We honour the dead, yes. But as Lincoln said at Gettysburg,

        The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain

        Achilles was a hero. Achilles died in vain. Men don’t fight with swords any more. They fight with vast inhuman meat grinder machinery. If there ever was any heroism in warfare, it is long gone.

        Memorial Day is probably the only holiday I take seriously. Nobody here will get away with questioning my patriotic bona fides. Not everyone who wore an American uniform was a hero. I was no hero. But my survival I attribute to sheer good luck and those who died to bad luck. There were genuine heroes among the men I knew who died, men who defended each other to the death. Those who would take umbrage at Chris Hayes really don’t understand why he’s right.

        Men don’t die for their country. They die for each other. That’s the mark of a hero. A country cannot both send its troops into the meat grinder and call them heroes, too. That is a sickening lie, a horrible accounting for their actions and the sacrifice of their lives.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to BlaiseP
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          says:

          Blaise:

          How can Hayes be right? Hayes said that “he was “uncomfortable” with the word (heroes) because it seemed like a rhetorical device that could justify engaging in more wars.” Most folks I know use it only to honor those that gave their lives not to justify more wars. As far as I know he wasn’t even referring to someone in particular but making generalized statement about everyone who uses the term heroes.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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            Of course he’s uncomfortable. You should be, too. If you are not, here’s how to solve this dichotomy at one stroke.

            Take a person you know, say someone at work. Nice enough guy, reliable employee, well-liked among the staff. I have no idea what sort of work you do, but let’s say he worked on a factory floor. I happen to be doing a little factory floor integration just now, which is why this example comes to mind. The guy has an accident at work. The guy’s badly injured and dies. Everyone feels really bad about it.

            Now here comes the VP of Corporate Relations out of Carpet Land to make this guy into a big hero. Rather than a simple memorial service where people would remember him clowning around in the lunch room and being a good dad and helping out the new folks on the shop floor, they put a big statue of this guy out front and say he died heroically for the cause of XYZ Corporation.

            What’s wrong with this picture, and why?

            It happens all the time. Look at the case of SP4 Pat Tillman. Motherfuckers lied through their teeth, gave him the Silver Star and tried to make this good lookin’ kid into a Bona Fried Heeeero. That’s what I’m talking about. It happens more than you know.Report

            • Avatar Scott in reply to BlaiseP
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              says:

              Blaise:

              Sorry but I don’t think your analogy is accurate b/c Hayes said the honoring of the soldiers is used to justify further war not simply to honor them. If you want to argue, as you have done, that we honor our dead more than they need to be that is one thing but it is not what Hayes is saying.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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                says:

                That is exactly what he is saying. My analogy is painfully accurate: it is the only one worth observing. The Americans who died in Iraq and Vietnam died for lies, lies promulgated and extolled and now passed into legend, yeah, our brave guys shootin’ them Commies and Turrists. Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan and his superior officers tried to turn his dead young ass into a hero.

                I find this discussion nauseating. The Americans I knew who died in combat are indelibly etched into my memory. I honour their memories but not as heroes and demigods. They were ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. Their deaths were meaningless. They ought to have come home and married their girlfriends and raised children and lived their lives as ordinary men, not become the tokens and avatars for the glorification of war and the deification of warriors. Memorial Day is not for the glorification of this country, it is to remember those who died, that the memory of their short lives shall not pass away entirely, that their names shall be read and those who remember them shall have this day of remembrance.

                Hayes is righter than you are willing to admit. America ought to have a better sense of itself than to allow its honoured dead to become the stuff of legend, the stock in trade of those who would tell us there is yet glory in war. They are liars. Pat Tillman did not die so his superior officers could stand on some podium and glorify his name.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to BlaiseP
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                Blasie:

                Get real. Ever since the truth about CPL Tillman came out no one has defend the gov’t lies. Hayes doesn’t even say who he is talking about in his statement. Is he talking about the gov’t or private citizens who want to call the dead heroes, no one knows since is talking in generalities. If citizen joe sixpack decides a fallen American is a hero for his sacrifice who is Hayes to tell them that they are really calling these folks heroes in order to justify war?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
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                Don’t kid yourself, Scott. War is an industrial endeavour. Anyone who thinks otherwise is only lying to himself. Pat Tillman was not alone in his express trip up Mount Olympus. That poor lost kid Jessica Lynch, same tiresome story.

                Let me tell you something for your own good, Scott. The dead of war are not heroes. They’re victims. You want to call these folks heroes? I’ve got a few medals, they once called me a hero. Don’t you fucking believe it. They mostly give medals like that to dead guys. I was a drill sergeant for four training iterations. I used to say this to all my trainees:

                “The United States Army does not want you to be a Heeeeroo. Anyone in this formation intent upon becoming a Heeeeroo ought to walk up to battalion headquarters and request an insanity discharge and I will countersign your discharge paperwork. When you are dead, you become nothing but a troublesome sheaf of paperwork and a green plastic sack of guts and meat and bones four of your fellow platoon members will to have to lug out to some LZ and your mommas and girlfriends will gladly trade that medal and flag for you walking off that DEROS jet alive. Furthermore, you will be no good to anyone, least of all the other members of your unit who would very much appreciate your presence, returning fire against the enemy. My mission, gentlemen, is to teach you the requisite skills to survive combat. You will best serve your country and your fellow troops by staying the fuck ALIVE.”Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to BlaiseP
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                Blaise:

                Whatever Blasie. I’m a Reservist and have spent the last year on active duty providing legal advice to sick and wounded Soldiers. I’ve been around the block so you don’t need to shove your service in my face.

                The first couple of times folks thanked me for my service I would accept and say something along the lines that I didn’t deserve it b/c there were others that sacrificed more than myself. After much thought, I now simply accept their thanks in the spirit in which it is given even though it still embarrasses me.

                If joe sixpack wants to call the fallen service members heroes, I say fine, accept the honor in the spirit in which it is given. Unlike Hayes, I don’t see a hidden purpose in honoring the fallen as heroes.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                “If joe sixpack wants to call the fallen service members heroes, I say fine, accept the honor in the spirit in which it is given. Unlike Hayes, I don’t see a hidden purpose in honoring the fallen as heroes.”

                Hayes didn’t say Joe Sixpack can’t or shan’t call fallen service members heroes. He said that he is uncomfortable with the word. If you don’t see that some folks use that word for purposes other than honoring the fallen (in the exact same way that language is manipulated for different ends every day of the week), such is your right. But Hayes, and many other, do believe that to be the truth. And as seen here, there is ample evidence to make such a believe legitimate.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                Well isn’t that a great thing, Scott. What’s your MOS anyway? It’s a great pity your unit wasn’t called up to make the journey to The Sandbox, where you might have something to say to these returning troops which might be remotely congruent with their Heroic Status you seem to feel they might all deserve.

                Your lawyering is either all JAG or all Not, anyway. These guys are now in civilian territory now, where UCMJ doesn’t apply any more. I would be curious as to what sorts of cases you encounter and how your wise advice might be applicable in terms of their legal predicaments, considering they get either a UCMJ trial or a civilian one, but not both. These Heroes could sure use some good advice, Lord knows.

                You have the temerity to tell me my analogies are All Wrong. You little ninny, you and your Juris Doctor. When a man finds himself at the ragged edge of the world, beyond hope of justice or salvation, your sort is worse than useless. Your sort only comes into play when that man finds himself back within the merciless confines of civilian justice. I came back, spent six months here and left this country immediately thereafter.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP
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                says:

                So there you have it, Scott, you’re not a soldier–oh wait you are, but you aren’t active duty–oh wait you are, but you’re a REMF and that’s why you’re wrong. See, BlaiseP has totally killed people. That means he’s automatically right about everything.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to BlaiseP
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                “You little ninny, you and your Juris Doctor.”

                Go home, Dad, you’re drunk.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                I would only repeat myself about the hammers.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Scott
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                Scott-

                Hayes said he is personally uncomfortable with the word. He doesn’t say anything about the heroism that is or isn’t displayed by fallen soldiers. He talks about ways in which the word is used. He talks about his discomfort with it. And even acknowledges that is discomfort might be misplaced or misinformed. He doesn’t say the word can’t or shouldn’t be used. And he expresses a sentiment that is representative of many, though certainly not all, service members. Blaise is not an exception. My wife served and many of my friends and family have or do serve, and I can tell you that many feel exactly the way Blaise and Hayes do. Many feel quite differently, as evidenced by the criticism Hayes got, and those feelings are legitimate and to be considered. But it is not as if either Hayes or Blaise are way out in left field here.
                I’m not really seeing where the outrage is, outside of conservatives wanting to go after a liberal and rehash the ol’ “spitting on vets” meme.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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                The Conservatives are completely locked into their mythology of the Hero Warrior. This may be a side-effect of so many of them avoiding combat in Vietnam. Now that our war machine is largely privatised, they can safely puff themselves up and praise the warrior, knowing full well in so doing they can avoid any uncomfortable discussions surrounding the lies about the wars they once praised.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                In my last sentence there, I should have said “some conservatives”. As phrased, it is far too broad a brush to paint with.

                Blaise, I don’t think the Hero Warrior myth is the exclusive domain of conservatives. Many liberals hock it to as a way to demonstrate their hawkish bonafides. In many ways it has become the “tough on crime” rhetoric. Anything other than pushing the myth is seen as dastardly, as evidenced by the response to Hayes we see here. Anything short of lionizing the troops, both fallen and alive, can get you branded a traitor, “effete”, a commie, or any other number of unfair criticisms. The worst is when soldiers themselves get abandoned and ripped to shreds for taking such a position, as you have here. Some are so willing to push the notion of soldiers being unquestioned heros who are wholly virtuous and good that they are willing to throw real soldiers to the wolves who oppose this end.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                @Kazzy, sure, lots of folks buy into the myth of the Hero Warrior. Anyone who ever picked up a plastic tray in a military chow line is automagically a Hero. Perhaps the military has special secret Hero Ingredients they put in the meatloaf. Liberals are mostly in the know about this bullshittery. They know it’s just so much stuff and nonsense, a glorious scrim over the reality of these ordinary guys. The Heroes go off to fight our wars and are therefore more virtuous than those who ordered them to go. No they goddamn well aren’t. They enlisted, they swore to obey the orders given them by their superior officers and they are precisely as virtuous or complicit as those who gave those orders.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                “The Conservatives are completely locked into their mythology of the Hero Warrior.”

                John Kerry, reporting for duty!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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                Yeah. And you didn’t, Duck. Go to bed, assh*le.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy
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                They enlisted, they swore to obey the orders given them by their superior officers and they are precisely as virtuous or complicit as those who gave those orders.

                Less so, I’d think. They have no autonomy, so no choice, so no moral praiseworthiness. And that whole getting paid thing takes the morality right outa it for me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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                You’d think we were less complicit but we weren’t. That’s the troubling part of all this. Following that line of reasoning, mobs aren’t really accountable for the actions of the ringleaders.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                “And you didn’t, Duck.”

                Yes, well, my pancreas kind of made all my decisions for me in that regard. Otherwise I’d be sitting in an AGS right now wishing I had more socks.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Kazzy
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                What a commenter over on LGM said, “While Memorial Day comes to us through an interesting mix of folk mourning practices, it is, like Thanksgiving, a holiday that encourages a kind of thinly cloaked national religion. I question whether making a public ritual around an intensely private act and set of feelings (mourning) is a good thing. One of the many violences of war is the loss of individual identity among the fighting and the silencing of debate; as a holiday, Memorial Day, which asks us to mourn heroic, reluctant, unlucky, ambivalent, peace-loving, honorable, and despicable people on the same day is that it throws our military dead into one mass grave and ask us all to drop flowers and shed a tear there. It is, as I see it, a holiday that perpetuates some of the worst lies of the state used to justify war. While I am not a pacifist, I am aggressively opposed to any state, legal, or cultural attempts to normalize or validate war. We should always look at acts of war with skepticism and doubt and unease. Bullshit terms like “our heroes” are naked propaganda terms designed to promote the idea that those who kill and die for the state deserve special reverence.”Report

  2. Avatar Chris
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    says:

    I like that Scott made this post political. Until he did, I wasn’t sure which side I was on.Report

    • Avatar Herb in reply to Chris
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      says:

      Yup….haven’t seen a single blog post or comment complaining about “Memorial Day Sales.” But a guy on (liberal) MSNBC reflects on the meaning of the day in a way that departs from orthodoxy, and they all freak out.

      Using the opportunity to sell you a couch? A-OK.

      Using the opportunity to think about the price of war? How dare you!

      The bell rings, and Pavlov’s dog starts slobbering…Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris
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      says:

      I would have been perfectly content to see no comments at all on this post. I have my reasons for not adding text. There’s nothing to say a picture won’t convey with more precision.

      Sorting through the images I was going to use, I wasn’t sure I wanted to use the one of the boy planting flags. I had to chase him around and shoot fast: he had a lot of graves to mark. The text on the gravestone washed out: at that shutter speed the camera voted for the grass and the kid instead of picking up the text on the gravestone.

      But that’s okay, I thought. None of the rest of the images were about the dead. They were about the living. That seemed more important. With the exception of the boy, all this stuff was shot at the limit of my zoom, to stay the hell out of these people’s way.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        Blaise, I agree, and I appreciated the post.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to BlaiseP
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        says:

        Blaise-

        The post and your follow-up comments are laudable. Keep your chin up. Good to see you back, by the way. Seemed like you hadn’t been commenting for a while and I was actually worried. Hope all is well.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kazzy
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          says:

          Ugh. It’s just work getting in the way of progress. Getting a new consulting firm off the ground is hard work. I’ve picked up a new intern, a clever, capable girl who’s ever so much better at CSS and JavaScript than I will ever be. My cunning plan is to create a cabal of young toughs and forge up a new team of my own choosing. Ever so much more rewarding than being handed a bunch of lunkheads off someone else’s bench.Report

  3. Avatar Loviatar
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    says:

    BlaiseP,

    As a veteran and someone who saw combat in the first sandbox war (Desert Storm), thanks for taking on the a$$hole brigade. I’m in total agreement with your post and comments, as I wrote in another blog, the majority of those of us who’ve served didn’t join the military to be heroes, in fact we tried to avoid the few who did join to be heroes as they tended get others killed in performing their heroic tasks.Report

  4. Avatar James Hanley
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    says:

    I know a college student who is in the Guard. Nice kid, reasonably bright, pretty good performer academically. Got called up to Afghanistan. I have no idea what he did or saw there, and my understanding is that the Guard units are mostly non-combat. But something happened–he came home, re-enrolled, then flat out disappeared for the better part of a year. Now he’s reappeared, is seeing a psychologist, and appears to have a serious drinking problem.

    I can honor the dead, but too much of Memorial Day hoopla edges over into honoring war.

    I spent the day working in my yard.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

      If I may, the key point is that Memorial Day is about that: honoring the lost, remembering their sacrifice (and the sacrifice of those who managed to live to a degree as well, though we have Veterans Day as well for that). Doing this doesn’t require saying who is a hero and who isn’t. Some people can go ahead and do that, but to my mind they have no claim to be able to say that others shouldn’t differ with them, even vocally, even on the day, because that hero-identification is not actually what the day is about. It’s a separate thing. Those doing it are as much out on a branch (if not a limb) of their own where the tree-trunk of the actual Day is concerned as those who engage them in discussion about the topic, and they’ve got no claim to say that those who (unwisely perhaps) follow them out on the branch they’ve chosen ought to stay closer to the tree-trunk. They’re both out on that branch together. The tree-trunk of Memorial Day is remembering the lost as the people they were, not figuring out whether they were heroes, nor even labeling them as such even if they were.Report

  5. Avatar Shelley
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    says:

    Two comments: (1) If you listen to the entire 10-minute clip, Chris Hayes’ respect for veterans is clear. He cares about them enough not to want future veterans to go through what they’ve been through.

    (2) So moving to see the headstones in relation to the living. And the caring.Report

  6. Avatar wardsmith
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    says:

    Was going to write something about a family friend whose MIA father was finally found as an OP but didn’t get to it in time. The coincidence of course is that his family lives in Las Vegas, where we used to live and of course members of the League just spent a weekend there. Living there might be similar to living near Disneyland, so of course the magic of the place to visitors is lost on the locals. People used to say to me, “You live in Las Vegas, isn’t that fantastic?” to which I’d always reply, “Las Vegas is a great place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there”.

    Late for Memorial Day for lots of reasons, but welcome home Colonel John F. O’GradyReport

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