I’m Not Proud I’m A Veteran
“Thank you for your service.”
People invariably say when they find out I am a veteran. Some of these folks try to shake my hand—and some even try to hug me. Since none of my admirers are starlets or models, I try to avoid all physical contact. Moreover, I frequently tell these thankful people that I’m not particularly proud that I’m a vet. In fact, I’m downright ashamed that I am. If the well-wishers look horrified at that statement, I go into particulars.
I start off by telling them I didn’t go willingly into service and tried every way I could to get out of it. Besides, the fracas I got entangled in was not even a war. The Korean debacle was called a police action. It seemed like a war to me; over 50,000 American soldiers never came back from that police action.
Escape To The National Guard
I definitely didn’t want to add to that dismal number, but in those days, we didn’t have a standing army and the services were people with draftees. The mass refusals which saw their zenith in the Vietnam fracas were unheard of the Korean venture. Nobody went over the hill but helluva lot of us tried everything possible to get out of going.
The best way to remain safe and to keep the extremities was to join the National Guard; it was definitely the coward’s way out. A decade after my service, it was used by a drunken coward named George Walker Bush. He needed pull to get into the air national guard … and of course he had it with Daddy, who at the time was head of the CIA.
My family had no pull, so I was on my own, but it just so happened that Gene Rossides, a college All-American quarterback, was one of my best friends. He and I took our physical and were designated 1A, which meant it wouldn’t be long before we would be freezing our asses off in Korea … wherever the hell that was.
I may have had no idea about that country’s physical location, but in conferences with Gene, it was decided that we’d try to avoid Korea by joining the National Guard. It took some doing, but if you’re an All-American quarterback you get some perks. Gene used them and he dragged me along and we found ourselves in a National Guard camp.
The camp lasted two weeks and at the end of our hitch, Gene and I conferred about our future. By joining the National Guard, we had to agree to certain obligations: we had to attend one National Guard session a week, and give up one month out of the year at a Guard training camp. And these obligations would go on for six years!
It was a total intrusion on our lives and we decided to quit the Guard and give ourselves to the draft, because our service would last for two years and then we would be done for it.
Phony Flag Pins
Today I’m damned ashamed about that decision. The Korean police action was a senseless war, like all those that followed, and every last one of them was fostered, enhanced and engendered by downright lies from politicians who never saw a day of service. When I see these phonies on TV, I feel like breaking the set. And I feel so sorry for the poor souls who are duped by these criminally, insane politicians with their phony flag pins who are sending these poor people into harm’s way.
These unfortunate, duped men and women usually came from the lower class of our society. Yes, the infantry man who is brutally killing his way into the hearts of people in the Middle East last year was slinging hamburgers at your local fast-food restaurant. Their lives, though just beginning, were at a dead end— and the service seems a way to a brighter future.
Of course there are other reasons people willingly go into service. Some think they’re getting back at the evil doers. Others actually feel they’re bringing hope and freedom to tribes of goat herders who hate them. And then there are those amongst us who just like to march around and shoot guns and kill people. If they weren’t in the Army they’d be jail … and that’s where a lot of them are going to end up anyway … and another large number will be homeless or become PSTD laden street people.
So because of all this mayhem and criminality, I’m not at all proud that I served my country in its’ vain attempt at ruling the earth. In fact, I’m damned ashamed I was a small part of that insane, hubristic and criminal endeavor. And take that statement along with your tinny-flag pin and shove it where the sun doesn’t shine. I used this overworked yet graphic homily because that’s all these flag-waving troglodytes can understand.
Then, I’ll follow that oration with a sloppy salute followed by the fuck you sign.
I hope I live through the experience.
Everybody Should Serve In A Draft
In closing, I don’t want to be buried in a veteran’s cemetery. Throw my ashes to the wind and write an obit that says I was a thoughtful, peaceful citizen of the United States—who wasn’t proud he spent any time in the service …
And I fervently hope this message gets to some poor kid who is about to be conned into the service by some fat-assed recruiting sergeant. Kiddo—don’t go. There are way too many deaths, plus arms, legs, penises and breasts, and eyes lying in the dirt of some god forsaken desert.
But lastly—and surprising even me—I’m not against the draft. Everybody should serve … but they should spend that time making the world and this country a better place … not by killing supposedly-wrong doers, but by serving sometime in the ghettos of the world.
If I were a veteran of that kind of an operation, I would be proud of my service. Yet, hope always resides in the human psyche, and a small sliver of that hope remains in my soul. May being in the service be a service to everyone. Throw away your guns and build wells, treat and cure malaria, build latrines, and look up at a sky without drones dropping death, but see the sun and stars and a blue sky over a rich and abundant earth.