Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

I am interrupting my series for Memorial Day.

I want to speak for someone who cannot speak. Someone I barely remember, because he died when I was 11 years old. His name was Ronny Manca, and he was killed in Vietnam on February 25, 1972.

Ronny was close friends with 2 of my older brothers. He and his family went to the same church our family did, and attended the same very small parochial school my siblings and I attended. My brothers had been friends with him since he was 5 years old; they met in kindergarten. My father was friendly with his dad, who owned the local auto parts store. Unfortunately, what I remember of Ronny most was the news of his death. I came home from school, and brother number 3 was in the kitchen with my mother and they were both crying. He had just given our mother the news.

Ronny did not wish to go to Viet Nam. He did not wish to fight or serve in the military. He was drafted. From what I understand, he considered going to Canada. His father was a WWII vet, and perhaps his family convinced him to "do his time". Ronny lasted some 75 days or so in Vietnam. Not a lot of time.

When I hear people talk about those that "made the ultimate sacrifice" or "laid down their life for their country" I can't help but think of Ronny. Ronny wanted to ride motorcycles, make out with his girl friend down at the Hudson river swimming spot my brothers and I used to frequent, and drink beer.  He was a young man in the full bloom of youth. At least these are my limited recollections... I don't think he was in any way interested in making the ultimate sacrifice and laying down his life in a rice paddy on the other side of the world after being shot by farmer/soldiers infuriated that he was walking armed in their backyard. If it weren't for the asinine policy of ego-maniac politicians, Ronny would be in his 60's now, his children in their 30's, and his grandchildren in grade school.  But it was not to be. They made the ultimate sacrifice, too.

I get ill when I see the Memorial Day hoopla. The silly exclamations that I read on the Web about thanking the "men and women that gave their lives"... which really should read "were individuals killed while serving in hostilities to protect the elite's economic interests". Always it is in the abstract - BULLSH#!. Getting killed is never abstract - it is very personal. I never see someone say "I thank Ronny Manca for making the ultimate sacrifice". I get ill because it is all "survivor bias" (I think the saying "to the victors go the spoils" needs revision... perhaps it should read "to the survivors go the spoils"). The dead are not here to defend themselves, only the survivors. The dead are not here to tell you their side of the story. My bet is that if they could they would be furious at the people that took everything from them, and furious at the people that were only too willing to benefit from the actions and circumstances that took their lives. That led them to die a violent death in pain and agony far from the comfort of their homes and families. They didn't want to make the ultimate sacrifice! They wanted money for college, or to get away from poverty, or a pay check, or to see the world. I don't think being killed ever entered the equation.

As I remember it, after Ronny was killed, his family ceased celebrating many of the holidays and occasions that  Americans and Christians mark throughout the year. I don't know that this went on for the rest of their lives. I hope that they had found some level of peace. I had heard that Ronny's father passed away a couple of years ago.

Ronny Manca wanted to live the life that was given to him. My bet is that the very young men serving in combat zones as I write this want to live the life that was given to them, too.

24 comments:

Donal said...

You're right Greg, the powers that be' want everyone to accept the nationalist claptrap, fight their economic wars, protect their business interests. For those that want to go kill someone, let them volunteer, but for those that have more sense, Just Say No.

I've spoken to people who saw out WW2 in Britain and in France, and it was public and family opinion (usually those that weren't going!) that drove many people to sign up for a war they didn't want to fight. I'm grateful they did, but I have to wonder who really won the War, and where Europe would be today if we (in Britain) had lost it - extreme nationalist regimes don't usually last long and France was mostly just getting on with occupied life.

Since being a teenager I've thought that true courage is standing up for your own beliefs and your own view about life, and being willing to say No. Ronny should have gone to Canada and been his own hero.

dennis said...

They sure seemed to do more flag waving this year. The war on terror has struck my family, my cousin dead and my sister with a purple heart. I just try to keep my mouth shut. Some part of the survivors need to feel like the loss was justified. "died to keep us free". I voted for that trader in office just because he wanted to bring our troops home. I feel stupid and betrayed.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

There are 2 things that I would change about our culture if I had a magic wand:

I would stop Americans willingness to send other people's children off to war and off to prison for draconian sentences involving non-violent crime.

But nobody asked me.

Anonymous said...

Dennis,

Don't feel too bad, when I voted for bush the first time I was 18 and believed his statements about not being the police force of the world. We now know that both parties have a vested interest in pushing war on our nation. It gives them the justification for things like the patriot act, pat downs of children in airports and draconian gun laws (control). I say pack up and bring our boys home from all over the world. No permanent bases, whatever we save spend half on building navy vessels to protect our trade routes and enjoy our young people living a full life. Someday a justified war will happen again, such as WW2 and I am sure Americans will be up for the fight, but these skirmishes where we are drained of our blood and treasure will never benefit this nation. Hopefully the libertarian wing of the Rep party will stand a little taller every election. Like rand Paul forcing a vote on many amendments to the Patriot act and holding up the passage for about a week. None of his amendments passed, but as more men and women like him stand up, we will have bright future.

Dex

tweell said...

Two problems about war - it only takes one group to make one (just like a fight, you can be pushed into either fighting or giving up) and losing a war can mean losing everything.
That being said, the Vietnam war was incredibly stupid. If a nation isn't willing to fight for themselves, they deserve to disappear, and they certainly don't deserve thousands of Americans dying for them. The war on drugs has enriched the evil and imprisoned the victim.
The war on terror has cost us more lives than was lost on 9/11, and although we have some results, this nation-building stuff is insane. It would have been much cheaper in blood and treasure to demand large reparations from the nations whose citizens attacked us (Especially Saudi Arabia) and nuked the ones who didn't pay up.

Anonymous said...

Donal,

So, do I take it that there is no situation so bad that standing up and saying "NO!" is justified? The USSR lasted about 70 years. How many died in the gulag? Was it worth holding the Russians at bay? Then, think about the Third Reich. 6 million Jews and 7 million Poles were a good start for Hitler in a pretty short time. How many more would have died in slave labor camps or been killed outright had the Third Reich lasted? It would not have been to good for those dwelling in the vassal states to spend 50 more years under that regime. Is your head the proper shape? What's your hair color?

And, oh yes! The US and the EU are heading down the socialist / social control highway, too. I certainly won't say that similar things can't happen here or in the EU. They can. Greg continually points to the enormous prison population in the US. He makes a good point. But, I digress...

My point is that there are things worth fighting for and this "Oh, its not really bad, it's just different" attitude of moral equivalence is a steaming crock of horse s#!t. Of all the generational wars in the 20th century, the one worth fighting was WW2. It was the unfortunate second half of WW1.

World War 1 was stupid. Viet Nam was a waste. Kuwait may have prevented a more death and destruction in a global oil crisis than it caused. Maybe not. We are involved in three wars at this point in time. I disagree with all of them. We ought to disengage from all of them. Others discern the situation differently.

But, when we as a people decide that our culture and heritage are not worth defending, at best, someone will show up to impose theirs. Just as likely, they will drive us from our homes and bury us in our back yards. Men and women have died for what we have and what we believe. Many lives have been wasted. But, which ones we cannot know. We do not know, and can never know what the borders on the map would have been, or the fate of the people that would have lived within them had these men and women not given their lives. In all cases, for better or worse, they died because their country called them.

On Memorial day, we should not make John Kerry's mistake and confuse the men on the ground with the politicians that sent them. God bless the fallen and their families, especially those who died in vain.

Happy Memorial Day!

Regards,

Coal Guy

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Coal Guy:

America has little to no liability to its Constitution from the ROW. There is no Pearl Harbor.

There might be economic risk, now called American "interests"... kind of like Special "Interest" Groups... our leaders are sworn to protect, serve and/or uphold the Constitution (depending on civilian or military)... there is no oath to defend "American Interests".

Our greatest danger lies within... and it can be set off by using force to "protect American interests".

The problem with funding ANYTHING, is that it tempts those in power to get their money's worth.

Anonymous said...

This is off-topic for this post, but I thought you'd like this article...although I think you've already stated it several times in previous posts:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/the_living_easy_the_driving_is_hard_9mzb1aAfj4bpC8X63YYKhI

Anonymous said...

bah, the link broke:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/the_living_easy_the_driving_is_hard_9mzb1aAfj4bpC8X63YYKhI

Anonymous said...

I can understand why so many are upset with the war in Iraq. I can also understand not wanting to stay and rebuild Afghanistan (what a joke). But the original invasion of Afghanistan was in direct response to the single largest attack on American soil in modern history.

I for one fully supported that at the time and still support the original intent even though I detest the idea of rebuilding that nation for them at our expense.

I may not like the idea of having troops in KSA but I also know I wouldn't want to revisit the 1970's oil embargos and the lines that resulted.

As oil diminishes you can bet your bottom dollar nations will fight over it. The only question that remains will be whether you'll have access to it or not.

Those who don't will likely find themselves running for their lives from those who do.

Anonymous said...

Think of it this way. As oil declines we are likely to see social and political issues in the industrialized west including the US and Europe. At some point war will break out over what remains of the oil in the middle east and else where.

Are you willing to let China, or Iran, or Russia dominate what little oil supplies remain? If Iran manages to control it you can kiss the Israelis good bye and I wouldn't put it past them to stick it to the great satan and its people as well.

God knows Russia and China already have a great deal of blood on their hands. You think they'll become enlightened as they dominate the planet? Better study up on your Chinese.

Anonymous said...

Let us remember those who have given their life under tyranny to remind us just how good we really have it even though its fun to bash and moan. here is a small list to remind those that their problems just ain't that big:

Nazi Occupied Europe: 6 million+
Communist Russia: 61 million
Stalin: 43 million
Communist China: 35 million
Khmer Rouge: 2 million
North Korea: 1.2 million
Vietnam: .9 million

To all of these people who do have a clue about what evil really is. Thank god none of us do.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

I am unwilling to engage any nation in war over a decade's worth of Oil.

We will wind up in the exact same spot... but without the blood.

PioneerPreppy said...

Well regardless of how modern conflicts of some pseudo American Empire have tainted our outlook. And I do mean "our" as I do agree with some parts of the "disagreement" in using American troops for foreign wars of profit. I believe it is important to remember that Memorial day was celebrated and begun long before these recent military actions took place.

Originally initiated by freed slaves before all white men were considered racist. They honored the fallen union soldiers who had been captured and died in a confederate prison camp and then buried in a mass grave in I believe Charleston.

Not every US soldier, sailor, militiaman, airman etc was drafted and not all of them died for some senseless greed of a politician. Even today there are men who believe they are fighting for an important cause, brainwashed as they maybe.

Of course it is better to never have to fight but sometimes no choice is given and those who do pay the ultimate sacrifice should not be forgotten. If they are forgotten ultimately more will pay with their lives in the ignorance that remains.

Just my take on it but keep in mind everyone in the USofA can have their own take because some men did fight for a cause. On a few occasions at least.

Donal said...

CG; I've thought a lot about this and I think the sensible thing is to keep an eye on what's going on to understand the risks, and have in mind a way out. The Jews that survived were mostly the Jews that ran in good time.

Certainly, no nationalist ideal is worth fighting for, even before you factor in the 'special interest groups'; military, arms industry, oil companies, etc who want to skew the debate with power-hungry, egotistical, self-serving politicians who want to make a name for themselves. Who wants to trust Sarah Palin with The Big Red Button? Would you fight her wars??

You mention WW1, Vietnam and Kuwait. I'd add central America, Cuba, Iraq, much of north Africa and even Afganistan - American 'interests' (CIA) trained and armed Bin Laden to fight the Russians, hence creating Al Queda.

Regarding Russia; they were Allies during the WW2 and Stalin was given half of Europe in settlement. What goes around....

Are there things worth fighting for? Yes, family, own safety and security, friends, community even. Not a flag, or an anthem, or a distorted sense of national pride inculcated into kids from an early age.

But all too often the greatest threats are internal - ask those living on American streets if their daily worry is about Al Queda, or getting mugged. Ask mothers if they worry more about their kids getting run over on their way to school, or about Cuban revolutionaries.

As for Anon @ 3.22, how can you think the invasion of Afganistan was about Al Queda when almost all the participants, and the money that funded them, were from Saudi Arabia! Why didn't you invade Saudi if you wanted to teach someone a lesson? Or Pakistan for hiding Bin Laden?

Its important to keep a sense of reality, truth and proportion, don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Donal,

Your statement about invading KSA is just political nonsense.

You fight your enemy where they are not where their from.

Anonymous said...

Donal,

You do realize the training grounds for Al Qaida were in Afghanistan right? They were Saudis training in a semi failed state environment. Why you hating on Palin when that moron in office has added another war, ramped up Afghanistan and keep us in Iraq? You’re focusing on a boogeyman while the wolf has your leg.

In general,

I certainly have no plot with people that will accept being occupied and I find that a cowards answer. To clarify my point I am not anti-war, I am just skeptical of political values relating to said wars. I believe every nation has an intrinsic right to defend itself. The constitution provides us a clear process to engage in war.

Coal guy I really enjoy the clearness of your thoughts and you once again bring up great points. This is a statement that has so much power "when we as a people decide that our culture and heritage are not worth defending, at best, someone will show up to impose theirs". That is the truth if you look at world history. It is really an axiomatic statement of human nature. Those who will not stand for themselves will serve others.

I do believe Afghanistan is justified because to nature of the rebels training there and the 911 attacks. Anyone who disagrees with the original action I would be skeptical of. I suppose my feeling is that the worst part of Afghanistan could have been avoided if we would have been very "convincing" in our bombing campaign.

The problem that I hear from my uncle, my cousin and one of my best friends currently there is that they are acting like a police force that can't fight back. We have turned the most powerful military on earth into street cops. My uncle is on patrol daily and tells me that they literally drive down the same roads waiting to get shot at. When they do the ROE (rules of engagement) are so preposterous that they risk death in even a small skirmish.

A perplexing issue of these conflicts is the lack of a political will to win a conflict in the first place. Even Bush showed this by not sending in a larger force into Afghanistan after the air phase of campaign. WW2 taught us that you need a large ground presence to control an enemy population. This point to the second problem, the inability to define victory in conflicts. I surmise this is because we are calling police actions military operations. So we are stuck between the two extremes of lack of will to win and the inability to define success with tens of thousands of young men and women stuck in the middle. This leads to many more deaths because of protraction of wars. You really need to put the hurting on a population to make them give up. Your statement above coal guy is really the swan song of the left. The fact that we are in a war should suspend the idiocy of making soldiers police officers. But that is now what the military is, a large social justice wing of the U.S. government. Look at the justification for the Libyan conflict.

Dex

Anonymous said...

Greg,

As I said, Memorial day is for the fallen, not the politicians that sent them. Our armed forces are all volunteer. Even if we don't believe that these conflicts are justified at this point, they do. Their intent is honorable.

Absolutely, we don't need to fight for foreign oil. I'm all for letting the MENA countries blow the crap out of each other. To continue down this path will have us occupy, house and feed the whole region. As you said, we'll end up in the same place in any case. However, Donal's stance is ludicrous. Apparently he is so steeped in privilege that he can't even imagine a jackboot on his throat.

Regards,

Coal Guy

Greg T. Jeffers said...

All nations require a defense force.

Volunteer or not, ours, it seems, is not for defense... and volunteer or not, our service personnel have a right to not have their lives put in danger without just cause.

I have lost any desire for intervention on our part. I recognize the difference between responding to 9/11 and invading Iraq.

And of course Memorial Day is to honor our KIA; unfortunately, it has also become a marketing day for future casualties. Up thread some one said "Peace must be glorified, not war"? They have the right idea.

Anonymous said...

Agreed!

Coal Guy

Donal said...

CG, you're joking right? Jackboot at your throat? America has NEVER been invaded, has chosen when to get involved, and the only jackboots you see are your own; either your military off to fight in someone else's country, or your own homegrown posturing right-wing paramilitaries, just looking for a reason to fight someone. Anyone!(Ideally without getting too far from a pickup truck and TV dinner).

I was born in the aftermath of the European war, several members of my immediate family fought (and some died) in it, my childhood in Britain still had rationing and bomb craters in the streets. I've lived all over Europe and the countryside around my house in Provence is littered with burnt-out buildings and memorials to resistance battles. I think war is a waste, and rarely achieves anything good or worthwhile. I'm not saying 'never', but its much rarer than you're suggesting.

So tell me; what have your wars achieved? The nuclear bombs on Japan? Cambodia? Vietman? Contras? Afganistan? Iraq? The War on Drugs? C'mon, which one would you say is an American success story? What did generations of (primarily) young men actually die for?

Anonymous said...

Donal,

America most certainly has been invaded. Twice! Both times by the English.. ;)

And while Sept 11th & Pearl Harbor might not fit your definition of invasion they certainly fit that definition for others.

How many bus attacks have you had lately? I know you had some back in the middle of the decade July 7th 2005???. It kinda looks like the wars are having at least some effect. Australia can say the same. Al Quida hasn't been able to successfully pull off an attack outside the middle east for quite some time now.

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting article about how the tide is turning against the war on drugs:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110601/ts_yblog_thelookout/global-leaders-call-for-a-major-shift-to-decriminalize-drugs

Its about time.

John said...

Great post Greg! The crimes committed by our government (our government is no longer a part of U.S.), against the people are fantastic. I was involved in the Viet Nam conflict and now have a daughter in Afghanistan. I have seen first hand the lives ruined by unnecessary wars. Al Qaeda is a figment of the CIA's imagination. With a body count over six thousand I hope the New World Order, their blood thirsty henchmen, George Bush, Barrack Obama, and the rest of the gang are happy. I know they have no sympathy or love in their heart for the wounded and lost because they are heartless.