Friday, May 10, 2013

I have been frustrated by those who oppose abortion but seem to downgrade or ignore other life issues in their moral and political stances. The short piece below is a response to such thinking. 

Abortion and War
It is important to understand the historical context of the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in order to formulate and effective strategy opposing abortion.  The legalization of abortion did not occur in a historical, psychological, and social vacuum. It came at the end of the war in Viet Nam in which this country’s strategy was primarily and broadly killing. The overall effects of this war very well could have inured the U.S. population to unnatural death. This war stretched to near the three-quarter mark of a century that witnessed the greatest slaughter of human life in history. Is it any wonder that a country as intimately connected with dealing massive amounts of death would be ready to accept killing the unborn? I propose this question and refer to this history not only to point out the consequences of war, but to help us understand that the broad strategy of addressing all life issues needs to be the focus of people opposed to abortion. If it is possible that massive bloody conflict set the stage for legalized abortion then it is necessary to work against all factors in our national psyche that are based on our habit of killing as a means of solving problems. Historically, the United States mentality considering such issues as international relations, the death penalty, euthanasia, and abortion is that if something is threatening, uncomfortable, or inconvenient kill it. We must change this attitude on all life issues if we want to change our policy on any of them.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Moment in Glorious Combat--Revised

I haven't entered anything on my blog for some time. Recently, I began working in a writers group at the VA. This is my first story since I have worked with the group.

I'm in one of the mortar platoon's sand bag bunkers that Viet Cong armor piercing rocket propelled grenades have partially collapsed. The VC had hit us with a company size attack around 2:00 AM. They've breached our defensive perimeter and, since the beginning of their attack, they've hit us and the Vietnamese village we secure with mortar and RPG rounds. We continue to take small arms fire. Since a few minutes after the attack, I've been going to positions on the perimeter helping wounded and sending them back to "dust offs," medevac helicopters.

In the bunker, one light bulb hangs from a horizontal metal ceiling support. The bulb is connected to a thin wire. The light it sheds gives the inside of the bunker a dim glow. Dust hangs in the air giving that glow a reddish, eerie hue. At the RPG rounds explosion, parts of the walls and ceiling have fallen and cascaded down partially burying one man in a pile of sand filled bags. The pile is to the left of and near the bunker door. Wounded are moaning.

The upper torso of this young man protrudes, dusted with sand, from the pile of sandbags. His stomach, chest, and head face up. His face is boyish with lips gently together and eyes closed. His body lay back on the sandbags with two bags slightly propping his right side turning his body slightly toward the door. It looks as though the pile of sandbags is birthing him. There's no movement, no sign of breathing. We cannot tell if he is dead or alive.

Three other troops gather over him kneeling on fallen sandbags. One presses his fingers on the right side of this fallen soldier's neck attempting to find a pulse. The faces of all three are tense. I sense their longing to know that blood pumps through the young soldier's artery.

His left arm, slightly bent at the elbow, rests near his body. I take and clasp this young soldier's wrist pressing the tips of my fingers into the flesh near his hand and along the outside of his tendons that travel down the middle of his forearm. I'm feeling for the artery there, feeling for some slight surge of blood that might pulse through his body. Is it there? Do I feel it? Is that a pulse or my imagination?

After a few minutes, I drop his hand. I think, "fuck it" and move out of the bunker. As I do, the men around him extract this soldier from the sandy and heavy pressing womb at he the moment that may be the birth of his death.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I visited Joe

Two days ago I visited San Luis Obispo and Joe Martin's grave. I spent some time with Joe. It was a peaceful time sitting in my chair telling Joe hello from his friends from Company B and remembering the day that he died. The peaceful time there visiting and praying was a healing contrast to the day he died. 19 June 67 was a day that part each man in the 4/47th died.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still on the road

I'm in New Mexico headed for Santa Fe and Taos. Rich told me to correct my last post. I appologize to who follow my blog. I implied that Rich was to only one. I'm on my way to Santa Fe, Taos, and Angel Fire. At Angel Fire I will visit the Victor Westphall Vietnam Veteran Memorial. This is the first US memorial for those who died in Vietnam. I have spent time at the Wall and visiting this memorial will follow one of the themes of my trip. The last memorial that I plan to go to will be Joe Martin's grave in San Luis Obispo, CA. The aniversary of Joe's death is tomorrow. He died in a battle near Long An Province, south of Saigon in 1967. That day was a tragic one for all of us in the 4/47th.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

To Rick

This is to my good friend Rick who faithfully checks this blog; almost the only one who checks my blog. I'm in Nashville where I went to see a great bluegrass group last night. I'll see some blues performers tonight. I'm feeling good, although I pushed myself too hard while traveling and got the old burning, stinging anxiety feeling in my chest. Ptsd stuff and it almost cripples me. I've had to slow down for about a month, but I will stay on the road till mid June. Hope that you and Marcia are doing well.

Monday, February 9, 2009


It's been a while since I posted anything here. Traveling has been keeping me busy. I began my travels on December 20 with the idea that I would visit a friend in Wyoming whom I served with in Vietnam. On the way there, I realized that I had nothing pressing that necessitated returning home. So I kept going, first to Denver and Kansas City to visit cousins then to Madison, Wisconsin to visit a young woman whom I trained as a boxer. I enjoyed visiting Kerstin and her husband Kevin and bonded with her toddler, Meriam. After that I visited two more friend with whom I served in Vietnam. My plan was to go south and visit another vet friend in Texas; however, my plan changed and as I went south I turned east through Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia and eventually to Washington, DC. What kept pulling me was the Vietnan Veterans Memorial. I had never visited the Wall. In DC, I went there once alone and then a second time with three young people. Standing a distance from the Wall I told them stories of experiences that I had in war. It was good for them to hear these stories as the stories gave more meaning to the name on the wall. I'm sure telling those stories there helped me. I'm not sure how; however, I have a feeling that as I process that experience I will learn more.

I did not remain in the saddness that the Wall represents. I stayed in DC luxuriating in art going to the National Art Gallery and the National Portrait and American Art Gallery. I spent three days there soaking in as much great art as I could. I experienced art from the late middle ages to the modernists. Vemeer and Pollack still remain some of my favorites. However, on my last day in DC I wanted to visit something especially meaningful and prayed for that gift. In the National Portrait Gallery I went to a certain gallery looking for one particular work in one photograph section. There I happened on the pictures of four individual womem--three younger women and a woman just a little older. They were pictures of women who had served in Iraq and all had post-traumatic stress disorder. I could feel the depression, anxiety that the pictures expressed. I could also relate to their feelings because I have two pictures that of myself that captured the same feelings. While I stood there in the small gallery I wanted to yell and direct people to look at those pictures. I wanted to say, "experience what these pictures say. This is important." I suppose that that is one of the goals of my life--to educate people about what war does to people.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Poem From My Friend Rick

I have been visiting my friend Rick for the past few days. We both served in the same company while in Vietnam during 1967. This evening Rick brought out his "Vietnam Box," a box with a few memento's of his year in war. This poem was in the box, which he had not opened for more than ten years. He wrote it sometime before June 19, 1967, the day of our battalion's most disastrous battle. He knows that he wrote this poem before that day because after the battle he could not write and remembers little of the rest of his year at war.

For Love of God and Nation?

Why me? What did I do?
I gave no one cause to
even feel blue.

Yet now I must go,
thru the muck and the mire
and lord help my soul,
if I ever should tire
for this is a war
such as never before
where no man can rest
lest the enemy come out best
for tho they're farmers by day
come night they're away
to bring havoc on men
that could be my kin

Why me? What did I say?
Why did my neighbors give me away?
To sweat and to toil
on the enemy soil
To fight for my life
For the love of my wife.

They say for the love of God and my nation
I must go through hell and damnation
And try tho I may
I can't get away

Why Me?