Twenty-one years ago today the Vietnam Wall Memorial was dedicated.
Today, the Beast of Terror sits atop it, chewing on it like a hungry
vulture, waiting to consume it with Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. Find out why.
10, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 789
Is The Beast Of Terror Ripping The
Heart From The Vietnam Wall Memorial?
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Nov. 10, 2003--
Today, I suffer the wounds of the Beast of Terror.
The Beast of
Terror is preparing to rip the heart from the Vietnam Wall
He sits on a hill looking
down, licking the blood off his claws, munching on the decayed pieces
of flesh dangling from his fangs. I think he's preparing to rip the
heart from the Vietnam Wall Memorial. It's a vulturesque thing to
It is a day of infamy for me--a tribute of sorts
to a victory by the Beast of Terror over nearly 58,000 Americans who
died in Vietnam, and the estimated 2 million Vietnamese killed during
a war most Americans would like to forget.
Today is the 21st Anniversary of the Vietnam
Memorial. It also happens to be my military alma
matter's birthday, the launching of the U.S. Marine Corps.
On November 10, 1982, President Ronald Reagan
said the following when he dedicated the Vietnam Wall. His words
are ironic today: ''The tragedy was that they were asked to
fight and die for a cause that their country was unwilling to win."
He was right.
dedicated the Vietnam Wall on November 10, 1982
words foreshadow the current dangers of Iraq.
Today, there is a growing thirst among our
politicians to rip and shred apart the conduct and value of the war in
Iraq. Their ultimate goal is to debase the reason we fought in
Iraq in the first place. Their goal is to garner votes by
turning Iraq into a Vietnam--a war ill planned, ill executed and
unwinnable. If they are successful, the victor will not be
them but instead, the Beast of Terror. The loser will be all the
Sentinels of Vigilance within the Vietnam Wall Memorial, and all the
children of all the nations of the world.
The clatter of Voices hurling invectives against
the current Administration are not unlike hand grenades being passed
out by truckloads to the guerrillas in Iraq. The anti-American
forces in Iraq seek to wash away America's resolve to right Iraq on
democratic legs and shore up its ability to sustain freedom in the
face of constant tyranny and oppression. They want to return to
rule by oppression, whether that be political, economic, religious or
Today is the
21st Anniversary of the Vietnam Memorial
Americans who join the anti-post-war parade, the more fuel is poured
down the gullet of the Beast of Terror. He thrives on
Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the Triads of Terrorism.
Gallons of dissent are being bucketed down the Beast's gullet each
time the politicians body slam America's presence and mistakes in
Iraq. The Beast is being fattened by our own selfish
leaders seeking to cripple and maim the mission of rooting out and
destroying the Beast of Terror.
The vultures of politics have no memory.
They forget that the "enemy" thrives on discord, revels in discontent,
and flourishes in a sea of Complacency. They forget his power is
fired by back-biting and acrimonious attitudes toward a mission of
neutralizing Terrorism at the price of American lives, and that each
life we give adds to the death of Terrorism rather than increases it.
Our willingness to die for a stranger's freedom frightens the Beast.
He cannot fathom it.
But the attacks continue, and will continue
as the selfish pursuit for discontent voters drives "vulture politics"
to abandon the warning President Reagan issued twenty-one years ago.
I remember well the first such attacks upon
the moral undercoating of our presence in Vietnam. I landed with
the First Marine Division in 1964 and was among the first wave of U.S.
Marine Combat Correspondents to report the war.
On one side, I
was a killing machine and on the other, I was a writer
I had a split personality. On the one
side I was a trained Marine--trained to kill the enemy without
question or hesitation; my second side was that of the poet, the
scribe, the writer, the reporter duty-bound to put pen and ink into
motion to capture the essence of war, both its beauty and brutality.
There were times when I both cheered and cried,
when I was brimming with pathos and ethos simultaneously, when my
primal instincts to kill and maim and rip and shred collided with my
compassion to throw my body between those being tortured to death in
some futile attempt to stop the degradation of life that turned us all
into our own Beasts of Terror.
War is the ugliest of all plays an actor
can perform, for it provides a license within the soul to kill without
guilt, shame, remorse or moral liability. That's why
in sentencing of convicted criminals, especially murderers, the courts
insist the convicted person spell out the nature of his or her crime,
and offer any remorse.
It's a time when the world has an
opportunity to hear the human escape the claws of the Beast.
Religion also offers that right.
Deathbed confessions provide the dying the opportunity to be sorrowful
for a life of pain and anguish inflicted upon others--if for no other
reason than to allow punctuation to us all that we, no matter how bad
we think we are or how ugly we might be viewed by others--that we
might recant the Beast of Terror, might resign our horrid natures and
embrace humanity's values rather than those of selfishness and
War, unfortunately, brings out our worst
natures. It also forces us to see our best. The
Vietnam Wall is a juxtaposition of both.
Wall is about death looking upon life
The Vietnam Wall is not just about the
nearly 58,000 Americans who died in the longest ill-fought war in
American history. It is also about the estimated two million
Vietnamese who died along with our own. It is about death
looking upon life and sharing a message with us about the future,
spoken from the souls of the parted, from the mouths of Sentinels of
Vigilance whose deaths remind us we have much yet to learn about
living. It is also about the 40 million people who have
come to Washington to view its inscriptions.
On the darker side, the Wall stands
symbolic of our Fear, Intimidation and Complacency as a nation to
finish what we started. It is a granite Wall of Shame of sorts, for the
souls within it are not shameful that they went there and died, but
rather shameful because we gave up before we completed our task, that
we retreated, capitulated. The Wall of Shame I speak of it
comes not from within the Wall, from its souls trapped there, but in
the reflection of the polished marble of the living who use the Wall
as a political tool to berate our mission as the Sentinels of
Vigilance; those who point fingers at the names and shout: "See,
all these deaths were a waste. America sucks.
War is bad."
Some may call
the Vietnam Wall a symbol of our national failure
In keeping with the "good and bad" of the
Vietnam Memorial, the Wall stands not just as a tribute to our
warriors, but as a symbol of our national failure. Some
may call it a monument to the Beast of Terror--a sad place where one
walks in the shadow of senseless death. Others say the monument
is a place where we must take a lesson, for they see the Wall as a
roost, a place where the Beast of Terror sits like a vulture laughing,
reminding us all that he will win each and every war the day we give
up expending the price of freedom. That price is the
willingness to die for the protection of the Children's Children's
Children. It is the willingness to sacrifice our lives as
Sentinels of Vigilance to defeat the Beast of Terror.
I fear our
politicians have given up on the price of freedom
Our politicians, I fear, have given up on
the price of freedom and favor the use of American blood to win votes.
They attack our role in Iraq by lambasting the Administration and
finding fault with our mission. Each attack fuels
the Beast of Terror, now residing most prominently in Iraq.
Each new or old critique urges another guerrilla to shoot down another
helicopter, to blow up another enclave, to snipe at another U.S.
soldier. Guerrilla wars are wars of attrition, wearing the
enemy down a death at a time, a headline at a time, until Courage is
replaced by Fear, Intimidation dominates Conviction, and Complacency
smothers Right Actions for future generations.
America's stomach for death to
achieve liberty has weakened over the years. Inversely, the power of
the Beast of Terror has grown. Sixty years ago, our entire
nation was willing to die so freedom could be achieved in Europe.
Today, a slim few offer their lives in Iraq while hoards sit on the
bleachers watching, waiting for the next opinion poll to decide
whether they are more pro or con sticking it out in Iraq.
Is America a
Nation of Vigilance warring on Iraq?
We are no longer a nation of
Sentinels of Vigilance. That is, we may start out that way as we
did when we launched our attack on Iraq, but, we turn into mini Beasts
of Terror, gnawing at our own children's security as we find ourselves
unwilling to complete what we start because the "cost" of Vigilance
becomes too high. The $87 billion to build Iraq becomes onerous.
The deadly attacks on our helicopters splays our warriors' blood on
our television screen. The Saving Jessica Lynch movie
crumbles our credibility in government's truths because we question
the mixed messages between the "truth" and "fiction" We
exhale acid on our Vigilance Mission.
Perhaps the last time in modern history we were
truly a Nation of Vigilance was during World War II when nearly every
able bodied man and many thousands of women rushed to enlist.
Back at home, women filled the halls of factories, Rosie the
Riveter, became the backbone of democracy.
We died so others could be
free, without much question.
Read the real
truth about Jessica Lynch as contrasted with the TV show "The
Saving of Jessica Lynch"
The Korean War, although not
lost, was a stalemate of sorts. It divided a country in half and
made victory into compromise. That compromise, hallmarked by the
Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, democracy and
tyranny, may have launched the groundwork for our failure in Vietnam.
By the time Vietnam came around, the Beast of Terror had taken a firm
footing in America's psyche of "Complacent War." By then,
the Beast of Terror infiltrated our politics and our social thinking,
feeding us endless entrees of Complacency, Fear, Intimidation that
took shape ranging from protest marches to arrogant, blind leadership
blunders that eventually caused our retreat from Vietnam, our
abandonment of the Principles of Vigilance.
Now, Iraq looms.
I feel the ominous presence of
the Beast of Terror's shadow upon our nation. I hear his teeth
gnashing. He is patting all the politicians on the
back who attack America's role in Iraq. He urges them to
spew more venom at the Administration, to find more flaws, to force
more Americans to question our role and the leadership directing our
efforts to bring freedom and democracy to a land that has been a core
of oppression and tyranny.
I hear the
screams of my comrades locked inside the Wall crying
"Cliff........don't give up"
Oh, how easy it would be
for me to think that by retreating from Iraq we might gain some
victory over the Beast--but then I hear the screams of my comrades
locked inside the Wall.
I hear my buddy, the
Catholic priest who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, shouting at
me: "Cliff--don't....don't give up. We are the
Sentinels of Vigilance not the Victims. Don't let our
deaths go again. It is time to stand up. The
Beast won before. Not again."
I hear another
buddy, Vic Paine, crying out. "Hey, Cliff...don't let Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency eat out the guts of America's role in
Iraq. We are trapped in this monument. You are free to
speak and shout. Remind the world we are in Iraq to fight
the Beast of Terror. If we all die to protect the
Children's Children's Children from Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency, then it's worth all the blood. But to
turn and walk away--no, Cliff. Please? For Vic, no, don't
let it happen."
million Vietnamese who died live in the Wall are Silent Sentinels
There are a lot
more Voices ringing in my ears, including the two million Vietnamese
who suffered death along with our own. They live in the
Wall too, but their names are not etched there. They are the
Silent Sentinels of Vigilance, the unseen who hold hands with the
seen, the unknown who have bonded with the known in the panels.
I know they died for their Children's Children's Children's freedom
just as our own warriors did, even though the world may call them
"victims of war." No, they are much more. They are
Sentinels of Vigilance, just as much as those who died in the World
Trade Center were.
In the end, all of
us who die for our Children's right to evolve are Sentinels of
Vigilance, even if we give our lives without a gun in our hands.
The holocaust victims are examples of such Vigilance, so are all
"casualties of war."
No parent wants his
or her child to grow up in a world full of Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency. No parent in any sector of the world, in any era of
history, from any culture, wants his or her children to become slaves
to tyranny and oppression, to be limited by their birth or religion or
economic status or lack of education and be forced to forever remain
in servitude to ignorance or poverty.
Were this true, I would
advocate turning my back on Iraq, for I would know without the Parents
of Vigilance support, their children's futures were hopeless.
The door to
freedom for Iraqi children is open
Parents, however, want things
better for their children. They want their offspring to
have a world better than theirs, and, at the moment, the people in
Iraq have the chance to achieve such a goal. The door to freedom
for their children is open.
The Beast of Terror doesn't like
that. He wants to slam that door. He wants all children to
live in the dark, frightening coffin of his tyranny, to be fed the
Fear of Others, to learn Intimidation of Life and to resign themselves
into the Ruts of Complacency that they will never escape.
The Vietnam Wall is bursting with the
Souls of Sentinels who died so that others may be free.
Critics who laugh at this are Beast of Terror Clones, for they
denigrate the purpose of "just wars." Just wars seek to
free the people from the bonds of oppression and tyranny--from those
restraints that prohibit a child from evolving on his or her own
merit, on paths chosen by election rather than edict.
In lands where leadership denies the
rights of its citizens to evolve freely, the Beast of Terror rules the
children. It is not unlike allowing a Child Abuser to
baby-sit them, for the greatest of all abuse to a child is the
suppression of the child's will and dreams, the suffocation of the
child's right to blossom and grow in whichever direction it desires.
girl freed from oppression dancing is pictured in Time Magazine
Wading through the
media reports about the horrible conflicts in Iraq that take American
and civilian lives, one can find the real truth of Iraq.
In last week's Time Magazine there
is picture of a young girl dancing. She was freed from the
oppression of having to seek permission to get married from a state
that approved that right or disapproved it.
It was a small picture, hidden amidst a
bloody, stomach-churning array of photos illustrating war's horrid
face, but it was the essence of the mission in Iraq, and, the one in
Anyone who thinks we lost the war in
Vietnam only needs to talk to a Vietnamese who escaped that country
and came to the United States. They will tell you, and
most likely show you, the true effects of freedom.
So many Vietnamese in America today own their own
businesses, are doctors, lawyers, professionals because they have
taken the freedom to evolve and blossomed.
The Vietnam Wall is more than just a slab of
granite. It is a listening post. The thousands of
Americans and millions of Vietnamese souls who reside side-by-side
inside the tightly packed molecules are today in harmony over one
vital and significant point--the rights of the children override the
rights of the parents, the rights of society, the rights of the
politicians, the rights of the Beast of Terror.
The Vietnamese-Americans here in this country
represent what the children of Vietnam can have, and, hopefully, will
have, over time.
The Iraqi's here in America who left their
country to enjoy the benefits of freedom have tasted its greatness.
They know better than any one on earth why America should not leave
South Koreans know why Americans should not leave
Iraq, for had America left Korea after that war, they would be boiling
grass to feed their children as their brothers and sisters do to the
I hear the
clamor in the Vietnam Wall Memorial
I hear the clamor in the Vietnam Wall Memorial.
I hear the shouts and screams of all those
Sentinels of Vigilance within trying to be heard above the din of
political assassins, over the sneak attacks and ambushes of political
carnivores seeking to rip and shred and disembowel America's role in
If the Voices of the Sentinels of Vigilance are
muffled, the Beast of Terror will again win an ugly victory.
America will retreat from Iraq amidst the bludgeoning of self-serving
politicians and blind-eyed media messages seeking to find wrong out of
When and if that happens, the names etched on the
Vietnam Wall will bleed red. They will have died again at the
hands of their own people.
I pray that will not happen.