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
Monday--November 11, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 425
Veterans' Day--A War Of The Worlds:
Martians 0f Terrorism vs. Earthlings of Vigilance
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
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
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
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
Horrors of War gum
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
No war is glorious. Not
when it costs so many lives, and its fallout is so brutal upon its
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
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?"
Of Vigilance--US Marine Corps Dog
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