Another input on the reality of war (a la Kerrey) but better said with a historical perspective. Perhaps if enough of these pieces show up from those who have been there, the media might finally get the message that war has and will always have brutal consequences and all of the hypocritical smoke created by those who haven't been or won't go will not change what happens -- a charitable assessment. The more likely one is that the Kerrey piece was developed primarily for political assignation purposes which makes the press even more hypocritical in its coverage of "news". I doubt that any effort would have been mounted about a similar incident where the SEAL Team leader was Lt. John Doe even if he too had been awarded The Congressional Medal of Honor. Regardless, from a public perceptions viewpoint the whole issue underscores the sad truth portrayed in Kipling poem, Tommy, written well over a century ago.
Ordinary men doing extraordinary things Source:
Miami Herald Published: 5/10/01
Author: Kevin Smith
Soldiers do what we ask. We would not have survived without them. The problem with Bob Kerrey's story isn't his story; the problem is us. Kerrey has been out there. He has seen the elephant. Since we began to write things down, not a century has passed without men saying, asking: How could they do such things? What they mean is: How could we do such things? These men don't appear only when we need them; they are with us always. They make us feel uncomfortable. They have one job. They kill people and break things.
We think ourselves better than that. When we call up the devil ``from the vasty deep,'' we want him to disappear after he has done our bidding. The galling hypocrisy of the '60s, those ``which hath no stomach for this fight,'' manifests itself when men such as Kerrey look back and into themselves.
When President Nixon -- yes, it was Nixon -- stopped the draft, most opposition to the Vietnam War stopped. Certainly the students ceased protesting, because they wouldn't be in danger of looking at the elephant. They could keep their ``political viability.'' Later, they insisted that those men who went -- those men who took their places -- weren't as good as those who didn't. Further, occupying a moral high ground made of whole cloth not found in nature, they demanded that those men forgive and praise them for what they didn't do.
When the first wall was built in Summer, somebody stood on it keeping watch so that other men could sleep peacefully in their beds. Greece, a collection of small cities that fought each other most of the time, spent 12 centuries smoothing the edges of what came to be known as civilization. Philip, the father of Alexander, said: ``If you want to know war, come with me into Macedonia.''
Imagine how much differently our past would look if the Persians, the forbears of today's Iranians, hadn't met the Spartans at Thermopylae.
``Go stranger, and tell the Spartans that we lie here, obedient to their laws,'' isn't the stuff of fiction. Two thousand years after Caesar chronicled his Tenth Legion, its members are known for one simple thing: They never lost. Where they went, lex Romanus followed. The iters they built are still used. We still sing of Citellus. We still smile at Juvenile. Marcus Aurelius speaks to all ages. At the front of the column was a centurion, gladius in hand, scarlet tinged.
Charles Martel, known as ``the Hammer,'' no doubt was lacking in sensitivity 1,365 years ago when he threw back the hordes of Islam at Tours. Look at a map. Tell me, please, someone, anyone, how much differently history would have been writ if he had not. The Cathedral at Chartres? The Renaissance? Bach?
Before Shakespeare wrote of Agincourt, before he wrote of Saint Crispin's Day, the King, Henry the Fifth, also known as ``the Scourge of God,'' was at Harfleur. Change that name to My Lai, change it to Ulundi, change it to Antietam, change it to Culloden, change it to 1000 names of unknown places all over the world. When we let slip the dogs of war, we let slip a part of ourselves that we do not like, that we wish were not there. Winston Churchill, who was in four wars before he was 25, sent hundreds of thousands of men to their deaths at Gallipoli. April 25 is a holy day in Australia and New Zealand. Twenty-five years later he led the world to victory against the Hun. Churchill had seen the elephant. He ``knew.'' Where do we get such men? They are all around us. The mists of memory bedim reality. We summon these men from time to time. They do what we ask of them. We are made uneasy by their excesses. We wouldn't have survived without them. We avert their gaze when they remind us of what they did for us.
They are us. They are ordinary men doing things that are extraordinary.
Lt. Kerrey is entitled to his own thoughts on the matter. As a nation, we should either close the book on that night, or ask men such as he to stand down.
Kevin Smith, a retired businessman, lives in Sea Ranch Lakes.
by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
I went into a public-'house to get a pint o' beer, The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here." The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I: O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away"; But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play, The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.
I went into a theater as sober as could be, They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me; They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls, But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls! For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside"; But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide, The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide, O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap; An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit. Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?" But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll, The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll, O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints, Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints; While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind", But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind, There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind, O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all: We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational. Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace. For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot; An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please; An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!