Veterans' Day 2002: Terrorism vs. Vigilance
Veterans' Day 2002:  Terrorism vs. Vigilance:   Today, we parade to salute our veterans who fought in many wars.   But, what about all the people were victims of war along with the warriors?  Do we honor them also as Veterans?   What is the price of war?  What is the price if we don't fight them against Terrorism?   Can we wave flags to promote war and then wage it without guilt, shame or reservation?   And, who are the real Veterans of War?


Monday--November 11
, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 425
Veterans' Day--A War Of The Worlds:
Martians 0f Terrorism vs. Earthlings of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, Nov. 11 --The War of the Worlds is being decided this minute.   Will the aliens (Terrorists) surrender their "weapons of mass destruction?"    Or, will Buck Rodgers (President Bush) launch his fleet of Vigilance Ships against the "Martian invaders" and obliterate the aliens' threat to the safety of the children's children's children of Earth?


        It is Veterans' Day, 2002.  It is a moment closer in the face-off between Terrorism and Vigilance.
       As Iraq ponders the UN's seven-day deadline for Saddam Hussein to vow to disarm no later than November 15, the United States is marshalling its forces in preparation for a war against the "Terrorist Aliens" who, similar to aliens from outer space, hover threateningly to attack the world at will--according to the U.S.  Iraq claims it has no "weapons of destruction."   

      H.G. Wells in his famous novel, War of the Worlds, brought panic to the earth through a tale of alien invaders attacking earth.   No one thought they could stop the "invaders."   But finally, a few people stood up and took on the aliens.   The result, Terrorism was eradicated.  The world returned to peace.  

        In War of the Worlds, every citizen became a combatant by conscription.  Every man, woman and child became a "Warrior of Vigilance" fighting against the "alien" intrusion.    Wells' war wasn't one pitted between the "military" of the "earth" and the "military" of the Martians.   It was a "War of the Worlds," engaging the desire of all earthlings to survive the Terrorism imposed by the Martians.
       It reminded readers that in the final analysis, peace can only be won when the entire world bans together against "evil forces" threatening the security of all future generations.

Bodies in Iraq

        Today, Iraqi and other forms of Terrorism is not unlike the Martian threat of H.G. Wells' imagination.   Despite the masks of fundamentalism some Terrorists hide behind, or the appearance that they are "human beings" on a cause or mission--essentially they are aliens, non-humans.   Human beings as a whole do not endorse the wholesale slaughter of the innocent.   They do not agree to the indiscriminate killing of women and children.   Terrorism does.  That's what makes Terrorists alien to human nature.
       Terrorism divides the world into two halves--those who support the rights and goals of madmen and madwomen to inject Fear, Intimidation and Complacency into the global society, and those who have the Courage, Conviction and take the Right Actions to stand Vigilant against such invasion of the fundamental human right to peace and prosperity.

       As I write these words, Iraq and its leader, Saddam Hussein, are about to make a monumental decision to either continue to be "aliens" or to reenter the "human race" and agree to the rules of human peace and prosperity.
       The Iraqi menace won't be the first time America has faced "alien threats."  It won't be the first War of the Worlds if we have to go to war.
       In 1776 Americans decided the British were aliens, and set into motion a Revolutionary War to rid the land of invaders who imposed their will on the people.   In the Revolutionary War, 4,435 Americans died in battle, another 6,188 were wounded in the fight for Freedom.  A total military force estimated to be between 184,000 and 250,000 took up arms against the British to secure the rights of their children and their children's children to live in a state of Vigilance rather than Terrorism, a state of Freedom rather than Oppression.
      But that wasn't the end of alien threats.  Nine more major wars would be fought--the War of 1812, the Mexican War (1846-48), Civil War (1861-65), Spanish-American War (1898), World War I (1917-18), World War II (1941-46), Korean War (1950-53), Vietnam War (1964-1973) and the Persian Gulf War (1991).
     A total of 39 million Americans would be enlisted in the military forces to fight these various wars, the largest number being 16.3 million who fought in World War II.   Battle deaths for all U.S. wars from 1776 to 1991 would account for 580,000, about 1.4 percent of the military.   Non-battle deaths would account for an equal number who gave their lives in the service of their country.   Those receiving wounds over the ten wars America has fought since 1776 would number 1.4 million or about 3 percent of the fighting forces engaging the enemy.    Total casualties for all America's ten wars exceeds 2.5 million, about 6.4 percent of the total armed forces.

       Statistically, the price of winning a war in American lives who die in combat with the enemy is 1.4 percent historically.   If those numbers hold up in a war with Iraq, we can expect just over one in a hundred of our young men and women to give their lives in combat.    An equal amount will die in non-battle deaths.  Another 3 percent will be physically wounded, some terribly, others less so.
        America's price for war is 6 percent statistically.  That is, of all the people who go to war, 3 percent will die in equal numbers of combat and non-combat deaths, and another 3 percent will wear the physical wounds of war the rest of their lives.
        The good news is--again statistically--that 94 percent of our Warriors of Vigilance will escape death and physical harm.
        Our enemies haven't been so lucky.   In some of our toughest wars, we have crippled our enemies.  Hitler's German army, for example, suffered more than 80 percent casualties by the end of the war.  German military deaths are estimated to exceed 400,000.

Horrors of War gum wrapper

       But the impending war with Iraq brings some curve balls into the casualty game that have never before been a major consideration except in World War I.  That is the use of biochemical or nuclear weapons.   In World War I mustard gas was used, which led to the ban of chemical warfare.  In the Iraq War, should such a war occur, no one is quite sure what will be used, but weapons of mass destruction and biochemical warfare is at the top of the list.
        The price of riding the world of aliens may have gone up dramatically.

        War, strangely, is not unlike a financial investment.   Battles, strategies and tactics are all based on "investment numbers,"--i.e. how many of our troops will be lost versus how many of theirs?   If the scale tips in our favor, we attack.   If not, we retreat or find another way to insure we "kill more of them than they kill of us."

        The profits of war are the least possible casualties on our side versus the most on the enemy's side.   The Gulf War was perhaps our most "profitable" in that sense, for we lost only 148 American lives in battle deaths while 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were estimated to have been killed.

         But there are wounds and deaths that go far beyond the physical.
        War changes people.  It wounds the soul.
        When one flips the switch in the human mind from non-killer to "trained killer," something happens.  At least it did to me, and to everyone I ever knew who carried a weapon and was trained to kill another person on sight, without blinking, without hesitating.
         In the truest sense, every warrior in a war is a casualty.   He or she loses the "right of innocence."   This right is the one we are trained as civilized creatures to not use lethal force one another to resolve conflict, except in self defense against lethal force.
         Combat and war removes the ceiling of civility for and toward others.   It unscrews the jar inside us that contains the Beast of Terror, and authorizes it release into our bloodstream so we can kill with impunity, without remorse, without guilt or shame.   It allows us to become our own beasts, void of moral sanction for killing others.   It provides warriors with a high ground upon which they can stand long after the battle is over and believe they "killed righteously."
         But that philosophy doesn't work.
         The faces of the dead come back to haunt all warriors who killed in battle.   They appear when least expected.  I often wake up and see their faces, hear their screams.  I don't think I'm much different than anyone who has witnessed or participated in the blood of war.      

Faces of the dead

         Then there are the civilians of war.   There are the millions of people who are non combatants who see their homes, villages, society pummeled by the machines of war.  They see their children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins being killed, or crippled.    Their eyes soak in the blood of war and release within their systems the Beast of Terror.   They too cannot forget the Face of Fear, the Fangs of the Beast.
          Casualty statistics only suggest the tip of an iceberg.   When the Vietnam War was beamed into millions of people's homes nightly, young children watched the wholesale destruction of human life while eating breakfast, dinner and lunch.    They saw the horrors of war as though they were the camera's lens.
          How many of them were casualties?   How many children felt the fangs of Fear, Intimidation and
Complacency as their Beast of Terror was awakened?   

          In Vietnam, it is estimated that one million enemy were killed, and an equal number of civilians, a total of  two million.    How many family and friends witnessed that destruction?    Aren't they casualties too?   Isn't anyone who participates actively or passively in war a veteran of it?
         Veteran for me is synonymous with survival.    It means I just got lucky on certain days, while others were less fortunate.    When I held a dying man in my arms, his throat ripped by shrapnel, I remember him clutching my jungle utilities and whispering in a gurgling throaty message, "Why me?  Why not you?"  Then he died as I rocked him to eternal sleep.
         Veteran's Day for me is not about waving flags or remembering just the dead who gave their lives in combat.    It's about remembering the Casualties of War--the innocent as well as the volunteers, the civilians as well as the soldiers, the children as well as the adults.
         My war experience was brutal.  We burned villages, had free fire zones where we killed anything that moved, and our principle goal was to report "body count" to make an illusion in the media we were winning a futile war that had no real political, social or global support.   In the end, it became sheer Terrorism.
         No war is glorious.  Not when it costs so many lives, and its fallout is so brutal upon its victims.         

Armistice Day Paris November 11, 1918

         In 1918 after four years of bitter war an armistice was signed on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day on the eleventh month.  The "war to end all wars" was over.   Parades began to celebrate peace and an "end to war."   In 1926 Congress officially recognized Armistice Day, and in 1938 made November 11 a national holiday.   In 1954 the name was changed to Veterans' Day, and in 1971 President Nixon changed the holiday from November 11--the signing of World One's Armistice, to celebrating the event on the second Monday of November.

        Today is both the second Monday in November, and, it so happens, November 11.
         But is it a glorious day of celebration and honor for those who gave their lives in battle, or, a sad day  of soul-searching and remembering the pain and anguish war creates among the innocent, and how it pock marks our youth who learn how to "kill" and can never shake the knowledge that their "Beast of Terror" is only a trigger pull away?

         As a former U.S. Marine, a conservative, a Republican, and a believer that the more strength one shows, the less one will be taken advantage of, it is hard for me not to want to be the first in line at the parade and urge all young men and women to enlist in the military and learn how to fight to the death for the rights of people's freedoms at home and abroad.
        Despite all the critics of Vietnam, I was in Mo Duc when the first democratic election in the country's history was held.   I watched people come out of the jungles in black pajamas to cast their votes for freedom.   I cling to that memory as my justification for the Terrorism of Vietnam, for I know that Freedom's price is far too expensive to state in monetary terms.
         But, there is an equal price of Bondage that goes with fighting for Freedom.  It is the Bondage of the Beast of Terror.  It is knowing the Beast of Terror is always shackled to your ankle, and no matter where you go, or run, or try to hide, you drag the Beast along with you.
         War, in all its ugliness, makes everyone who is part of it know their Beast, and, to see the face of others' Beasts.

        I'm going to the Veterans' Day parade today in New York City.   I'm going to wear my Semper Vigilantes armband.  It will salute all the veterans of war, but it will also shed tears for all war's victims, those of the past, those in the present, and god help us, those in the future.
         And if someone asks me, "What do you think?  Should we go to war with Iraq or not?"   I'll look them in the eye and ask them  in response:  "If you knew a hungry beast was about to tear down your door and eat your children, what would you do?"


Nov. 10--Husky Of Vigilance--US Marine Corps Dog

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