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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

May 20, 2008

 

A Child of Viet Nam

I was born into the Viet Nam war. No, I'm not Vietnamese or anything like that. I was simply born in 1960 when that particular quagmire was really just getting into its groove, so it and I have a common thread: We grew up together.

There was always a veil of concern in my parents' home. You see, I have three brothers, all considerably older than I, and there was always this concern that one, if not more of them, would have to go off and fight this war. Fortunately, due to various reasons (including medical), they didn't have to fight and my mom and dad didn't have to go through the hell of having a well-groomed military officer come to the door voicing his regrets, as so many other military (and reluctant-military) families have had to do over the years. Over 58,000 American families went through it during the Viet Nam era and in excess of 4,000 have gone through the same thing in relation to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, so far.

My father, Abraham Greenberg, will always be linked to the Viet Nam war in my mind. My brothers, being fifteen, twelve and ten years older, don't have the same memories of their early years as I have. My father died in March 1975, just as the last US troops were coming home from over there. To add to that was his insistence that I not watch television on weekdays during the school year, except for the news. So every night I sat on the floor in front of the TV and watched Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News with (of course) Walter Cronkite. And each and every night we got the casualty report together. If my memory serves me correctly, it went something like this:

CRONKITE: Today in Viet Nam, 25 soldiers were killed in action and 45 were wounded.

I got desensitized to it. I remember when the number was low it felt like a "good day", and when the number was high, it was a "bad day". As that child, I looked at the loss number much in the same way I looked at a New York Yankee of Giant loss.

And I got over it... quickly.

But the truth of the matter was that my father and mother looked at those numbers differently, much in the same way I look at them today. And I fear for my son much in the same way my mother feared for my brothers back in the 1960's. And I know what death is and it's far different than what an eight year old thinks it is.

We Americans, today, don't look at the Iraq war in the same way we looked at the Viet Nam war all those years ago. There are no draftees, just volunteers who "knew what they were getting in to" as some who will use any rationale to keep this war going have suggested.

The Viet Nam war was ended, in part, to the children who knew that they would have to go fight in their generation's war. Thee is no draft today so it's easy for the children of those protesters to not be touched by their war the way their parents were touched by theirs.

My brothers' generation marched on Washington; they protested and made the kind of noise which couldn't fall on deaf ears indefinitely. This non-draft war is just the medicine which the Bush administration would have ordered. I remember in the 2004 election, one of the bumper sticker slogans being, "Bush in 2004; Draft in 2005". But there wasn't any draft. A draft would have put an end to this war already. Our nation's families wouldn't put up with the loss of their draftee children's lives for long. And as a nice side effect, the non-draft army allows for war profiteers to make profits from the horrors of this war. They provide food; they provide security protection for DC dignitaries who want to tour Iraq; they make the profits of war.

If we had death, wounded and missing counts on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric today, perhaps this war would be brought home a bit more. maybe this war wouldn't be a conflict fought "by someone's else's children" only.

The network and cable news channels are shirking their responsibility for not showing flag-draped caskets coming home for the last time. They are not doing us a service by excluding the horrific news from Iraq which contain the names, ranks and home towns of our deceased heroes.

And if they were, perhaps this war would already be over.

-Noah Greenberg



In response to, "the 2.3 million Democrats who went to the polls and voted in those two states were effectively told their votes didnít count," Dorothy Schwartz writes:

They were told their votes wouldn't count before the primaries. That's why my 26 year old son in Florida didn't vote -- he was told it wouldn't make a difference. He would have voted for Obama, and plans to do so in November. That's why it doesn't make sense to seat Florida and Michigan delegates as presently constituted: people who believed what they were told won't be represented.



And in response to, "women voters are angry," Dorothy Schwartz writes:

I am a woman voter and I am not angry, except at Hillary Clinton for the divisive tactics she has used. If she is the nominee, I will vote for her in November, but while holding my nose.


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-Noah Greenberg