Monday, May 28, 2012
Memorial Day 2012: a few thoughts
I never liked Memorial Day in the United States.
After I got out of the Marine Corps I went to one
Memorial Day parade and carried a flag. After that
I joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War in 1973.
Memorial Day just seemed like a day where everyone
had barbecues, and drank beer; plenty of beer. It´s
hard to reflect or remember the meaning of such a
day when you can´t wait for the parade to get over
so you can hit the beers on ice.
It´s like July 4th which was Independence Day for
mostly rich white peoples. It didn´t extend to salves,
or Native Americans. They had little to celebrate on
July 4th, and it still holds true for Native peoples
I knew of people, friends and others...veterans who
died on Memorial Day. I was a bartender and ´shut off´
three of them because they were intoxicated and they
had to drive.
They just went over to where the kegs of beer were and
had more. Two of them died within an hour when Freddy,
a grunt Marine as hard as I´ve seen them drove into an
Oak tree. The other man, in his 20s was paralyized for
I never felt that there was anything to celebrate...I
was alive, and I had the memories and still do. The first
was what I saw in Vietnam on my first day Christmas Day
1968, and I shall never forget it, or them or her: child
victims of our war.
Monday, December 20, 2010
'The Girl I Met On Christmas Day 1968-DaNang’ Revisited´
The child victims of war. It´s something that they don´t
tell you that you will see.
Another thing that they never mention in boot camp and
training is that you might have to put a knife to the
throat of a fellow Marine(s); it happened more than once
because they were in panic while we were under a sapper
Two of those men we sent back to their hole, and had to
listen to them scream as they were being knifed and then
exploded to bits. In the morning I had to wipe up their
remains. That story is in this blog:
´What War Is and Does to People:
'The Girl I met on Christmas Day’ Dan Nang 1968´
originally posted Sat. 26 Dec. 2009
For me their is nothing to celebrate on Memorial Day.
I survived; others died. Just the memories.
I remember the first dead Marine that I carried with the
help of three other Marines. Dead weight is heavy. He
wasn´t bleeding or anything noticeable. Someone in front
of him had stepped on a landmine. The corpsman explained
to me that just a tiny piece of metal-shrapnel- going
through the head, eyes, or a vital organ will do it. Dead.
On my first medevac our copter set down at a fire base
outside of the A Shau valley (the ´Valley of Death´ to
Marines) to make a pick up, or for some other reason...
and there in a mist with low grey clouds I saw body bags
of Marines stacked up three or four rows high...like
cordwood awaiting their final journey home for burial
so that someday on another Memorial Day someone could
plant a small American flag on their grave so that they
would not be forgotten.
Their must have been over 240...and I felt dead inside
They are never forgotten by their parents, spouses,
girlfriends, boyfriends, sons, daughters, brothers,
sisters and friends.
I remember those I knew like Hall who´s hand was ripped
open as he was trying to teach me how to safely handle
a grenade fuse and he picked up the wrong side. Hall,
Jimmy?, I´ve never forgotten that night, and all the
other times before that when you made people laugh.
That is what was really great about you...when you were
on your way over...anytime we would already be starting
to smile because you would make us. And, we´d be laughing
after you left.
I have never forgotten that night.
I don´t need speeches. I remember some of the men I saw
on the ICU ward at Chelsea Naval Hospital. I had a rehab
job to talk to those coming out of surgery. The first
Marine was a quadrapalegic...all four limbs had been taken
off. And, I could not drink enough to wipe out what I saw...
and I would have to go back and meet more the next day.
Memorial Day is a huge propaganda day for the politicians
and military. You know how it goes...we must not forget
them and honour them by continuing the present war(s).
There are over 58,195 or so names on the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial The Wall in Washington. But over 100,000 veterans
of that war have taken their own life since returning home.
The politicians won´t be mentioning things like that.
To all the politicians, military brass and those who
profit off war I have something to say to you. You
deserve to be hanging from a scaffold like the Nazis
did at Nuremburg! And, Go F*ck yourself. I hope the
day comes when Memorial Day is celebrated by the
masses of people chasing you down.