Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lieberman, Lamont, Bush, Israel, Iraq, Vietnam, Justice: Part Four (Final)

Lieberman, Lamont, Bush, Israel, Iraq, Vietnam, Justice: PART FOUR (FINAL)

It’s been a few weeks since I wrote the first three parts of this series. In that time, Senator Lieberman has revved up his independent candidacy for reelection as Connecticut’s senator, Ned Lamont and the Democratic establishment in Connecticut have pulled together, the latest Israeli-Hezbollah confrontation has temporarily ended in the usual stalemate and President Bush’s approval rating continues to slide as he continues to demonstrate that he doesn’t understand that the war he started in Iraq has probably made all Americans less secure.

Lieberman continues to demonstrate that it’s all about him, not us. He must maintain his power, no matter what. His loss in the Democratic primary is suddenly “round one.” Voters thought that the primary was the only round.

I’ve been told that Lamont said something stupid recently about turning over the defense budget to the education department, or something to that effect. Everyone should understand, whether pro-Iraqi War or not, that we need an army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard.

But the purpose of my four part rambling is really about the composition of our Armed Forces. I hope I’ve demonstrated in the earlier installments how I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone must serve in the Armed Forces. As someone who has served in the Peace Corps AND the US Army, there is no other choice if this nation is to treat its young people, all of its young people, fairly.

After I was released from my active duty in the Army, I was subject to serve two weeks in support of a reserve unit each summer for two summers. I was called to do it for one summer and what I witnessed was shocking to me while in the midst of these reservists. This was in the summer of 1967 at Fort Drum up in Watertown, New York.

As I was in the Signal Corps in active duty, I was assigned to be with an Army Reserve Signal Corps unit. In the real Army, we set up an antenna in half an hour. The reservists couldn’t do it in half a day. The fastest I saw them move was to unload beer from their rigs. I’ve never seen cases of beer move so quickly.

Active duty guys like me were assigned all the day shifts because we knew what we were doing and could explain to a visiting general what was going on. The reservists had night duty when nothing was happening and no one important would show up. The reservists slept on duty and did nothing, not even refill the engines with gasoline that powered the electricity needed to run the rigs. When I came on in the morning, the first thing I always had to do was tank up with gasoline. If I didn’t, the engines just ground to a halt.

Who were these reservists? They were all white for one thing. Not like us active duty guys who were multicolored. Not like the black guys who had served in Vietnam and had to put up with the bullshit from these reservists. These reservists were exactly like Bush and Cheney who thought they were too good, too important, to serve their country next to men from Harlem.

And now Bush and Cheney are in charge and think nothing of sending the sons of middle class and poorer families to Iraq. It's just like during the Vietnam War when so many Bushes and Cheneys and Clintons turned their backs on the rest of America's young people.

We need justice. We need all young people, men and women, to serve in the military for two years without any option of doing something else like serve in the Peace Corps. If they want to serve in Teach for America, fine. But they also have to do their stint in the Armed Forces. If they want to swab hospital floors, fine. But they also have to do their stint in the Armed Forces.

This is the justice I want to see. The country will be better off because of it. You’ll hear more about this from me. ---Walter Haan,


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