Maiello: Defeat the Press
Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
In the early days of my 725-day army career, I spent some time at Ft. Hood, Texas. Luck of the draw, I guess. I had been sent there out of AIT along with about a billion other bald-headed idiots to be fodder in the new Americal Division that was being formed. We were about to surge, and we hadn't even heard the term, but look out, Charlie, here we come. Yeeee ha! Somehow, though, they filled it before they got to me. That was my luckiest number draw to that point, the lottery not yet being in place. And, since everybody has to be somewhere, someone decided to assign troop number U.S. 5 444 ---8 to a short timers unit.
Here is how two years played out at that time. Guys who had been drafted and ended up as infantry riflemen spent 16 weeks in training, maybe two to four weeks on leave and then twelve months in Vietnam. Then they came home with as many as 30 weeks left to serve, and they had to be someplace too. They were offered encouragement, money, and often promotions, to re-up, and the great majority who said 'screw that' were placed in 'short-timers units'. Their job was done. Their pointless service had been served, but the Army was too stupid to release them and let them go home. You might understand that there was a fair amount of bad attitude in the neighborhood. I hadn't yet done anything tougher than run around in the heat of Louisiana until I got to the next random spot where saving America required me to do a few more push-ups. My bad attitude had no good reason, but it was already there, so my sensitivities weren't shocked when the army's recruitment slogan, "Fun Travel, and Adventure" which had become "FTA' for short and now meant "Fuck the Army", became part of a phrase heard over and over. "FTA, all the way".
We had nothing do do worth doing, but someone figured out that we could be used to make big impressive formations and parade in front of the grandstands and salute smartly, then stand in the sun while while the higher ranking officers got up from their shaded chairs to give each other medals. I did it ten or twelve times, once for the President. I recall standing in one parade in sweltering heat for several hours. (Ironically, such parade formations were just about the only place where that war had a front line.)
After an hour or so of standing at parade rest random people start passing out and collapsing, sometimes just falling asleep and halfway catching themselves before they hit the ground, and sometimes going completely unconscious and not making any action to ease there fall. Sometimes, if they were on the front line, a person, I mean a soldier, could be hurt quite badly, maybe a broken nose, busted teeth, or a concussion, but if one or more ranks back you would fall into another person and probably not be hurt. It would, though, cause somewhat of a chain reaction. I firmly believe that it was the experience of so many of our politicians and senior officers having had only that experience of seeing soldiers fall in the line of duty that inspired them to create the Domino Theory. (Take your inspiration where ever you get it.) On this particular day we had the honor of seeing a General give a Colonel a Bronze Star for exemplary accomplishment in the efficient operation of some brigade's mess halls. He must have been so proud.
Well, I could go on, or, I could highlight this whole thing and hit delete. It is just a stupid ramble, but since I have written it out and so far haven't done the honorable thing and saved wasting the time of any poor sucker who is still reading, I might as well say what got this waste of time, 45 years later, started in my memory-ed mind.
President Obama is about to award 13 people the Medal of Freedom. That, as you no doubt know, is the highest award our government can bestow on a citizen. Sometimes medals are fitting symbols of the honor due the recipient. Sometimes their awarding is a farcical miscarriage. There are two names on the list which have brought out a bit of attitude from other bloggers. One is very critical of Madeleine Albright, and I share the feelings expressed. Another has an idea but little hope for Bob Dylan's reaction, and I just don't know what to think. Do you, Mr. Jones? I, like so many, have been not just a fan of Dylan but have been strongly affected by his music but I have a lot of empathy for the ideas put forth by Linh Dinh. I wonder if there is any chance.
Links below. Cheers.
First, Iraq's Grim Reaper.
Next, Make Love Then War.