Monday, July 5, 2010

My Brother's Courage: DAN CLARK: FOURTH OF JULY

Yesterday it occurred to me that I may be "in your face" too much with my rants against the so-called conservative and ultra-right movement in this country and that I should slow down or stop completely writing my blog. But, there seems to be something in the news that compels me to shout to Holy Heaven about nonsense I hear or read everyday. In fact, I'm obsessed about it because the fact is, and this is said to all who arrogantly inflate their chest and declare "I'm a conservative" or "I'm a Christian" while pounding the drums of war, you are so wrong. In fact, you are foolishly wrong and, by all the logical study of the facts of history and the teachings of faith, you can only sustain your beliefs by denying those facts and your own faith. In other words, your a fraud and a hypocrite.

My brother Dan had courage bringing this story to our attention, DAN CLARK: FOURTH OF JULY, about a young man who returned from Iraq without arms and legs, a quadriplegic by a roadside bomb. The story affected him and compelled him to write about it. It affects me too, and it brings tears to my eyes. I agree with Dan that it is a sad, sad story; and it should be a sadness to the depth of our collective soul. I disagree, however, that it has a happy ending or that it ever will have a happy ending. How, in God's name, did this happen? The final answer to that makes me angry. After all the layers of the onion are peeled away, the layers of lies, deception, fears, excuses and illogical reasoning, it all comes down to the foolishness and arrogance of a few men and one last thing: America, you and I, didn't keep our promise. Those "few foolish and arrogant men" are, of course, those who chose to go to invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Do I need to tell you who they were? I shouldn't have to. The promise, on the other hand, is the promise the American people make whenever a single person joins our military, and now days that includes the National Guard - which, by the way, for the first time in our history is now going to war in foreign countries, driven there by those same foolish and arrogant men. But, that new recruit takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and uphold the Geneva Convention, something, by the way, America failed to do because of those same foolish and arrogant men. At the instant that person took that oath, America promised, by long tradition and in a loud voice, NOT to send him or her in harms way for no good reason, which is, by the way, another thing America failed to do. The moment we (you and I) saw these promises broken, we should have shouted to Holy Heaven that we would have none of it. We should have marched in the streets, sent letters and made phone calls and DECLARED that we would have none of it or by God in Heaven we will remove those responsible from office, by impeachment if necessary, and hold them responsible for their criminal negligence. But, we didn't. We went shopping instead. We cut taxes instead. We paid nothing and we sacrificed nothing for the arms and legs this young man lost. We failed again.

And, today? The day after the Fourth of July? The day after we fly flags of Glory and shoot fireworks into the sky, he is forgotten. He goes back to his bed at Walter Reed Hospital and the parallel bars in physical therapy and his grueling routine to somehow make something out of his ruined life. How could his story ever have a happy ending? I saw Brendan Marrocco, the young Iraqi veteran in the story, and a few other veterans on television yesterday with Tiger Woods and a few other Golf stars, and I heard the most hated words I ever care to hear, "Thank you for your sacrifice." Bullshit. What we really should be saying is, "I apologize for my failure to keep my promise to you. I sent you in harms way for foolish reasons because I was afraid. I forgot that faith and courage will see us through and I didn't keep my head or my word. I was impulsive and I lost all sense of right and wrong and I forgot the lessons of history. And, I apologize that tomorrow my country will forget you, again. It will not keep you or help you because people like me don't want to pay for it. Only today, Independence Day, will we remember you and I'm sorry. Instead of depending on your country, you will be at the mercy of God and charity. God Bless you."

My thoughts are much too passionate to allow myself to say to those who support both Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and to those who somehow through some twisted logic believe that Brendan sacrificed for our freedom to say what I really want to say to you. It would be obscene, to be sure. Both ideas are wrong. There is overwhelming evidence that the majority in Iraq and Afghanistan don't want us there. There is also overwhelming lessons in history that any intrusion into secular or civil political contests is an exercise in futility and only won when and if we colonize the country. But, our own history says that too is futile, in the end. As for freedom, you gained no freedom you didn't already have when Brendan lost his arms and legs. He will know that someday, as will his brother and parents, if they don't already know, while you may never unless you experience a personal loss to war. Saying that his sacrifice somehow preserved your freedom is just another excuse to excuse your own behavior or lack of action. What freedom would you have lost if he had not gone to war? What freedom would you have lost if Saddam Hussein stayed in power? None, to both questions. Yet, we sacrifice our sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers for imaginary freedoms. Stop bullshitting yourselves. It is a needless loss.

If there ever are two sides to an argument or a question, nonsense can never be one of them. We either do or we don't keep our promises.



Dan said...

Well said Dave. Poor choice of words on my part. A better statement would have been...well...I don't know...but NOT 'happy ending'. I admire his grit...but he has, for now, accepted a fate no one should be asked to accept.

Dave Clark said...

I'd say you chose the words out of hope that somehow it will all be worth it. Yes, he has grit and I hope to heaven he sees it through to achieve a greater good than he would have with two arms and legs. he certainly has more courage than I could ever muster.