Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Cost of War

This funeral took place in Lafayette Park in front of the White House in the winter of 1991-1992. The man in the pine box was a Korean War Veteran who froze to death on the streets of our Nation’s Capital. It was more than a funeral. It was yet one more of our statements about the way our country treats its War Veterans. There are six pall bearers. Four of them are Gulf War Veterans who lived in our 1400 bed shelter four blocks from the Capital Building. I am wearing the Redskins cap and the young man behind me was an intern from England who came to work with us. The Support Our Troops banners from the Gulf War were still fresh in our minds. One third of the twelve hundred men in our shelter were veterans.

In a special room in our building we had the cremated remains of eighty four people who had frozen to death on the streets who had remained unclaimed and unwanted. Some were never identified. Who they were and how they had ended up so far away from the safety of family and friends no one knows. John and Jane Doe made up about twelve or so. Of the people who were identified about three quarters were men and of those men more than half were veterans.

It was extremely cold and windy that day. Our fallen comrade had died two nights before just blocks from the White House near the State Department. A dead human being is very heavy. The police were ready to pounce on us if we set this coffin or another coffin, not pictured, with a homeless woman who had died the same night on the ground. It would have amounted to a “Violation of Structures” which was not allowed in front of the White House or in Lafayette Park.

We stood there with arms aching and our faces numb as our frustrations grew. We live in a country that sends people off to war, flags waving and pundits raving. When they return they become hidden and forgotten. After the Gulf War they had a parade for the troops. They flew every conceivable machine that can pulverize a tank or obliterate a city over the Mall while down below tanks literally tore up the streets of DC with their treads and their weight.

The parade ended and the cuts in benefits filtered down and the broken men who had returned slipped quietly onto the streets. And we hardly took any casualties.

The casualties today are great. We are losing and killing more people every day. The wounded come back, some never to heal. The “unscathed” survivors come back and try to adjust. The things they experienced not easily forgotten.

At least we have our “Support Our Troops” magnets. After the war a parade would be nice, I guess.

Let’s get these guys home. Let’s support them a little more deeply than a millimeter of magnetized rubber. Let’s find the courage to stand up for ourselves and our freedoms. Let’s stand with the returning Veterans and demand that the rest be returned. Let’s come together, here, on this website and discuss how we are going to do this.

We need to end the subversion of our Constitution. We need to end the tyranny of the Bush Administration. We need a change in the balance of power.

We need to do it soon before it is too late.


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