This past weekend the world trembled and spoke out in anger. Thousands of people gathered for more than 80 anti-war protests across the nation and the world.
I think of our young men and women who will soon be in harm’s way because of the reckless action of our dangerous, disastrous president.
The first image of the young being deployed to the Middle East haunts me. It breaks my heart.
It called to mind the brave young soldiers about to be slaughtered on the ships about to land in Normandy. That, however, was a necessary evil with a noble purpose.
The potential loss of todays young people is unforgivable.
My eye immediately went to this vintage advertisement that hangs prominently in my home. It is the centerpiece of a large anti-war collage I did several years ago as we were about to enter Iraq. Its message has never seemed more prescient as we move closer to war deploying our precious sons and daughters to the Middle East.
The ad from a group called World Peaceways, in NYC is from 1939 before America entered WWII is remarkable in the fact that it ran as a full-page advertisement in an issue of “Woman’s Home Companion,” a mainstream woman’s magazine. It appeared alongside recipes for the 1930’s housewife for husband pleasin’ meals and advise on hanging dainty curtains. The contrasts between the usual vintage advertising to women and a daring war protest ad was startling.
With its powerful image of a loving mother holding her tiny son, she asks the question of whether she would be raising her on only to send him off to war. Confronted with war preparations of unparalleled scale and the casual talk of another inevitable war, the ad was an urgent call to women and mothers to unite against war.
The text is haunting:
“He’s going to grow up to go to war?”
“No-He’s never going to grow up at all. If another war comes, he and his mother and thousands upon thousands like them are going to die in action.”
“’ Impossible!’ you say. “They’re non-combatants” Don’t be silly- there’ll be no such thing as non-combatants in the next war.”
“Wide cruising submarines and bombing planes will laugh at front lines. Gas= gas so powerful that one drop on your skin will kill you- will not be particular whose skin it touches. There will be no haven, no sanctuary no safety. Everyone will suffer.”
“And for what? Glory– where was it in the last war?
“Victory- where was it in the last peace?”
With that cruel lesson still fresh in mind, is another war to be forced upon us- a war infinitely more horrible more futile and more lasting in its harm than the last?
That is for you to decide!
What to do about it
Today with talk of coming war heard everywhere, Americans must stand firm in their determination that the folly of 1914-18 shall not occur again.
World Peaceways a non-profit organization for public enlightenment on international affairs, feels that intelligent effort can and must be made towards a secure peace.”
It is unfortunate that today’s military is all volunteer. When the draft was the law, people were more likely to resist playing the war game. We were citizens first, soldiers second. While I won’t replay the Vietnam War, causes and consequences, I note that there was a song a bus load of us sang while being taken from SeaTac Airport to Ft. Lewis, WA in December 1969:
I was with boys to be trained for service in Vietnam, but had signed up for three years on the delayed entry program. That guaranteed I’d be a combat motion picture photographer on successful completion of the training at Ft. Monmouth, NJ after boot camp. Fortunately, the war was winding down and I ended up for the rest of my time after training in Germany. It was possible to avoid war by means more honorable than what the current commander in chief did. Draft dodging without consequences (prison) wasn’t one of them.
I think of those who lost lives, health, or, at least, innocence in Vietnam while Donald Trump preyed on girls for sex and lived to brag about it on Howard Stern’s program! I feel sorry for anyone in the all volunteer military now who will lose life, health, or innocence in any fights Trump stupidly blunders the country into! They, unlike the large part of those who’ve fought wars since the Civil War, volunteered to risk life, health, and innocence, and that would be particularly pathetic since they largely aren’t 17-20 year olds, the best (most compliant) ages for cannon fodder.
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I remember that Country Joe song all too well. but funny I associate it with hippies singing it more at Woodstock. Conscription may become necessary, and there is an equity in it. It feels as though WWII was the last war where all classes and ethnicities fought side by side.( though of course it was still segregated then) I think that was an extraordinary experience, and it opened up many men to other Americans they would normally not socialize with yet bonded with. American mothers no matter their class, all worried about their sons.
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That was my experience. I definitely met people from places and classes I wouldn’t have met here in nearly lily white Western Nebraska had I not experienced the military. Of course, none of the people I met had rich fathers or were children of members of Congress.
WWII was genuinely an existential situation. It was very possible till well into the war that the country could fall to Germany and Japan. That tended to bring out the best effort to work together to save our way of life.
The threat in Vietnam (the domino effect if Vietnam fell to the Viet Cong) was over sold by Washington. I don’t recall feeling they were that big a threat to American freedom! Now that they do, in fact, run the country, we have good relations and lots of trade with them., What?!