This morning I did the Woody and Friends show on KZFR, our community radio station. Because it is Memorial Day I had collected smatterings of songs to play… I don’t order them before a music show I just let them line out as they will and I’m always grateful to the fates when there is a flow and coherence. Today was a definite A minus and that’s about the Best of what I can do with the time I can allot to a show but I wanted it to be good for Dave Guzzetti, whose show it is.
Near the end of the show a woman, who seemed a little tearful, called and said she didn’t like what I had been playing. She said the songs were disrespectful on this day. Earlier in the show I’d tried to say how important it is/was for me, for both Michael and I, to Honor Vets Not War. What has really torn me up these last few hours isn’t the vision of all those decaying bones, hair and teeth decomposing all over the world, nor all the containers sitting on counters, like mine. It’s the fact that only some people will be able to divorce themselves from war. So many young people are in a difficult time of their lives when they go into the military after high school… half or fully estranged from their parents, without direction, without jobs, money or security and with huge self esteem and libido issues. When they are killed those back home remember the good things about them and put their “sacrifice” on a pedestal. Everything about their loss tears at your heart… like the #1 country western song in 2013 about a dad who drives around his son’s old truck, tearing around in it. People remember their fathers and uncles through their “service”– the photos of them when they were young and vibrant with life. It’s just about impossible not to be exploited by the Love for the individual who has gone on… to sort it emotionally and mindfully from the cold reasons for that war fought for Manifest Destiny, for oil or resources or for regional control. (Almost never for defense.) That young person is a drop in the bucket, expendable yet so very dear and special in hindsight…. multiply that by thousands, by millions… who were they all? What complex reasons did they have for fighting? They bought the recruiters’ rhetoric or their number was called or about to be called in the draft (like Michael,) but their individual stories are complex– to make dad proud, to prove manhood to the girlfriend, to escape from a narrow, constrained life with little promise.. a little of a mix of things?
This woman who didn’t like my music choices said to me, when I said my husband had died from military related Agent Orange cancer, “He did it (served in the military) for you.” (In other words, he’d gone to Vietnam to save America.) Nope. I can’t speak for Michael but my take based on the circumstances he told me about are that it wasn’t working that well between him and the girl he liked who he’d followed to the University of Wisconsin, he hadn’t made it as big as he had hoped in football and he was going to be drafted if he didn’t enlist. It was carefully thought through… He was a survivor and already had a good idea that this war in Vietnam was not going to be a cakewalk. He wanted to impress the folks back home and he wanted to have some control and do some of the things, macho things, he wanted to do (rather than be drafted,) and to not buckle down in college. I doubt if saving southeast Asia from Communism (the Domino Effect so touted by cold warriors,) figured in, even one percent.
Now we have endless and permanent war, a surveillance state, trade agreements which trump unions, sovereignty and the environment… complete corporate control, not to mention a “voluntary” poverty draft. Who and how do we fight? Sign me up for the non-violence corps and give me my husband’s Veterans for Peace button and I’ll be on with it.