Wednesday, November 11, 2009

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. -King Henry V. Act iv. Sc. 3.

Today we celebrate Veteran’s Day here in the US.

I have very mixed feelings about that. My father was a veteran of WWII, serving in the Pacific. In the thick of it. He contracted malaria and suffered a brain hemorrhage, but his time in the military was one of his best memories. My eldest brother was a conscientious objector to the war in Viet Nam, he felt war was wrong. He got a very low draft lottery number and refused induction in 1970. In the thick of it. You can imagine the tension at our house….

And, hopefully, you can understand my mixed emotions. I was proud of what my father did, but understood and empathized with my brother’s point of view. WWII was a necessary action—Hitler and Japan had to be stopped. A fact that became even more apparent when the horrors of the concentration camps were discovered. And it was a formal, declared war. Viet Nam was the complete opposite of that. There was no clear reason why we were there, no exit strategy and lives were being brutally and uselessly lost or destroyed. Only to have it end pretty much the way it started…. [just like Korea before it]

Now, my brother wasn’t a coward. He proved that by NOT running off to Canada. No, he stayed here and was put on trial in Federal court. He was convicted of a felony for not wanting to kill people and was sentenced to 3.5 years of alternate service at Haverford State Mental Hospital . This was followed by 7 years of probation. During this period, he was unable to get any kind of meaningful employment because he was a convicted felon. And when interviewers heard what he was convicted for, they treated him like scum. Sadly, he started drinking and was dead of cirrhosis at the age of 33. Not all of the names of those lost in the Viet Nam war are on the wall in Washington.

While I greatly appreciate the many young men and women who voluntarily enlist, I still don’t understand why countries choose war as a means to settle differences. As a mother and a grandmother, I don't want to send my loved ones that I invested so much time and love into off to be slaughtered or maimed. I hate that other mothers have had to bury their offspring. I know many people will accuse me of being unpatriotic, but I have questions, doubts. I’m in the thick of them……



  1. Hi Ellen! Greetings from Casa Hice!

    Thank you so much for popping over for a visit and for subscribing to follow my humble blog. What an honor! It always blows my mind when someone new tags along. So I'm here to return the favor!

    I look forward to getting better acquainted and invite you back to Casa Hice anytime. I'll leave the door unlocked for you!

  2. Ellen,
    1st thank you for becoming one of my new tiny heads. And your! Honestly at first I was a little turned off seeing as my dad was in vietnam but then I read it all and was like wow! So thank you for letting me see this war through other's eyes, it definately opened me up to something different. I'll be back!

  3. Great post, Ellen. Nothing is simple.

  4. It's funny, not ha ha funny but funny like "oh, that's funny" funny.
    Because this is so in line with my thinking that I was proud of you for saying what you said and I am proud of your brother for sticking to his guns and I'm so sorry about his fate because I feel like it was the fate of so many who had to deal with the war that I didn't even consider that this might be controversial until I started reading other people's Veteran's Day blogs.

    One of the things that I like about America is that we have this perception of freedom. We aren't, truly, of course. Look at what happened to your brother. Look at what happens to people every day. But we can go about our little lives and feel free. Mostly.

    Anyway. I didn't comment on this post when I read it two weeks ago, I'm the world's best reader and worst commenter because I'm always reading off my Blackberry in the middle of the night and the keys are so clicky that I don't want to disturb my (usually snoring- wth!!) husband. But I really loved this post. And the followup.

    Also, thank you for stopping by my nutso post! I feel like we all have stuff rattling around our heads that other people might not like, so why not dump my own thoughts out from time to time? The worst that can happen is someone leave me a nasty comment or drop my feed!