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I have been asked:

"... Are you really so proud of your military service?...".

 

I was in the US Air Force during the time of the VietNam War,which war I opposed. It was a time when many people had complicatedmixed feelings about war and military service, and I was no exceptionin that regard. At that time, many citizens were drafted into the USmilitary, and thus put involuntarily at risk of being killed by theadversary. If I am in the Air Force, what do I do?

I carried out my duties.

I had no dramatic or heroic duties, just routine duties, but everyduty contributes to the war effort.

My military role-model-hero is GeneralWilliam TecumsehSherman, of the US Army in theCivil War. He did not like war any more than I, saying that "War IsHell".

(War Is Hell, painting by Mort Kunstler, 2001,BoothWesten Art Museum)

He carried out his duties methodically, using superior militarystrength to win battles and to destroy his adversary's ability tocontinue the war, thus ending it. He freed the slaves on the coast ofGeorgia, and as military ruler, he ordered that the slaves should begiven ownership of the plantations on which they worked. His orderswere reversed by USA politicians, who gave the plantations back totheir former owners.

His dislike of the political system was such that, when he wasasked to run for president of the USA, he said "If nominated I willnot run, if elected I will not serve.".

The terrible mess of VietNam was in large part due to the heavyinvolvement of USA politicians. (For example, the USAcould have just recognized the revolutionary government of VietNamafter the defeat of the French, and there would have been no USAVietNam war.) No web page is long enough to detail all thepolitical mistakes made by USA politicians with respect to theVietNam war.

As you may be able to see from the above, my feelings about suchthings are complicated, and hard to express.

I don't like war. War is Hell.

However, I don't like the idea of my fellow citizens being killedby adversaries, or defeated in battle.

Therefore, if I am put in the position of being at war, I will tryto conduct my part in the war in the same way that Gen. Shermanconducted his part in the USA Civil War.

 

As to my feelings about my military adversaries, I do not hatethem. On the contrary, I have sympathy and respect for them.

Again, Gen. Sherman of the US Civil War provides a good example.When Gen. W. T. Sherman's Union army camethrough my home town on the way toAtlanta, the opposing Confederate army was commanded by Gen.Joseph Johnston. Each had great respect for the other. When Gen.Sherman died in the winter of 1891, his funeral was held in coldwinter weather. Even though Gen. Johnston was in ill health, he wasdetermined to show his respect by attending the funeral of Gen.Sherman in person. The cold weather aggravated Gen. Johnston'sillness, and he also died.

As to my opinion about men going to war, I will paraphrase whatGen. Sherman told one his daughters after the war:

"the war demonstrated that men are blind and crazy".

Words are imperfect carriers of information, and I am not verygood with them, so I will end my efforts to discuss that subject(which is personally somewhat painful for me).

 

 


 

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