Friday, May 25, 2007

War and Peace

Lately I am thinking about war. I am against it.

Thought #1:
Service in Viet Nam seems to be a new standard for patriotism. I'm skeptical of those who now regret their choice not to serve. (I think they just regret not being a hero like John McCain.) Don't they remember? Nobody wanted to go to Viet Nam; the boys I knew who went were drafted. Most guys were trying to string together student deferments until they were 26, or else they joined the National Guard or ROTC hoping to get a choice of assignments or at least go in as an officer. It was not seen as unpatriotic to avoid being drafted. It was seen as lucky.

We were married in 1969, and the lottery was held that December. Dee's number was very low, and we knew he'd be drafted immediately, so he quickly joined ROTC so he'd be able to finish school first. By that time I was pregnant and I cried myself to sleep many nights, terrified that I'd be left with a baby and he'd be killed. I had my second baby 2 years later while he was at a 6-week summer camp. During that time, he had a severe asthma attack in a foxhole, and was hospitalized for several days. He was later discharged because of it, and the 3 years we had planned to give the army were given back to us. It was a huge relief.

Thought #2:
I am an Anglophile and love all things British, especially their history. I've read a lot about World War II, the Blitz, and the bravery of the English people. We've visited the War Cabinet Rooms, and marvelled at Winston Churchill's leadership, the encouragement shown by King George and the Queen Mother as they walked through the rubble of the bombings. We've been to the Imperial War Museum and watched newsreels and reports of the evacuation of children, and the conditions as families gathered in the Underground stations for protection during the night. I've read books and seen movies that convince me that the citizens were heroes.

It thrills me that Americans came to their aid and support. I love the stories of the soldiers who joined the RAF, and I like knowing we joined their fight against terrorism. I am touched by this speech given by Churchill in 1940:
....You ask, What is our policy? I will say; "It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy." You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory - victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
Thought #3:
Are these two different philosophies? How can I hold both views?


rp said...

It is nigh on impossible to compare WWII and Vietnam. Tactics, enemy, mission, response, outcome are all completely different. Most people are against was as a concept. However, every one of us will judge individually the validity of each war, and support it or object to accordingly.

While WWII may have robbed the world of a generation of men, it gave us heroes and villains, much more clearly defined than Vietnam did. Though they undoubtedly came home damaged, WWI soldiers were not vilified. Vietnam soldiers came home ruined, addicted, and scorned. My father was a Vietnam vet--Marine Corps infantry. He came home plenty scarred.

Churchill rallied and defended his people. Hard not to admire him to pieces. Who can we really say that about regarding Vietnam? Johnson? Nixon? I think not!

MissKris said...

It's close to 10 pm home from a barbecue at our son's not too long ago and thought I'd mosey on over this way to say hello and do some major catching up! I've had so many computer issues, so little time...I am way, way behind. I think I'll have engraved on my tombstone, "A day late, a dollar short." That about sums it up, ha! There's something so lovely about visiting you here, Oma...your reminiscing brings back so many memories of my own since we're pretty close in age. I have a brother who married in 1969, too, on the day Charlie Manson's "Family" slaughtered Sharon Tate and I believe Woodstock began the same day...August 9th. I took the day off from school on Moratorium day and was part of a group who staged a peaceful protest, with my parents' blessing. I was kind of past the radio days, but I think I was around 6 when we got our first TV. As for your daughter, she's accomplished more in her young life than I've come close to accomplishing at this stage in mine. Me...I just go with the flow and sit back and admire dynamos like her! I can tell how very proud you are of her, and how much you love her. Hope you're enjoying the holiday weekend...beautiful here today, rain tomorrow. The story of our lives here in Portland at this time of year, ha!