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Thursday, August 5, 2010


summer flora

Found some cheap video of WW2 film footage, Victory At Sea. It was on tv every day when I was a kid. There was also You Are There. If I remember correctly, it was more land forces than naval forces. I liked to watch both. It told me what the war my daddy was in looked like. This Victory At Sea I watch one or two at a time every once in awhile. Today I watched 4 episodes. They continue to be visually interesting and this time a bit comical. The music is 50s movie music, martial as it can be and still be music. The narration is where the comedy is. The story is told with much affected passion. A lot of words get emphasis, like Japanese and American, the Japanese spoken with a sneer in the voice of disdain for the enemy, American with pumped up pride, our side.

I like about it that it has film footage from the other side too, evidently captured during the war or after. I especially liked that part of it as a kid too, middle 50s, I suppose. It seemed like the young Japanese guys were the same as ours. Their political system they had no say over was just like ours in that way. We got drafted, hoodwinked by propaganda, pumped up to fight a war. When the narrator says the word fight, in any context, it is given full emphasis. I watch bombs fall out of planes over tropical islands obliterating the tropical life everywhere they hit. I've never been able to help but wonder about the animals, fish and birds, monkeys. Collateral damage you're not a man if you think about with any compassion. The word battle gets a great deal of emphasis too. It would be much better without the music.

I see guys just out of high school carried on stretchers in pain that has them in agony. Big V. We won. It's a great 50s package of feel good about ourselves drama. We jump back and forth between the Pacific of the Japanese War and the Atlantic of the German War. More explosions and guns going off than a John Woo Hong Kong men with guns movie. It's orchestras such as this one that give jobs to trombonists. When I look at our boys and their boys, I see guys who would rather be anyplace else. At the same time, when I was incarcerated involuntarily on the wine dark sea, I was surprised to see how gung-ho everybody else was. I couldn't get gung-ho about my life attached to a killing machine against my will. I never wanted to kill somebody who was as much a victim of the political system he lives under as I am, whose system, the same as mine, gives no recourse. They make out like it's a privilege, but it's slavery. I don't have anything against a guy in the same shape I'm in. My grief is with the commanding officers out of harms way orchestrating for medals and advancement, and with the politicians who settle disputes with killing off the younger male population. Thinning it out. Don't have enough jobs for all that many people.

I do have to say WW2, in its way was a righteous war, in that everyone involved believed they had a higher purpose, which they did, shutting down the German war machine and the Japanese war machine, both at the same time. It was a time of national unity behind a potentially overwhelming enemy. Our wars since then have had nothing to do with necessity like in WW2. These wars are about the economy, keeping the economy linked to the war machine going, what Ike called the Military, Industrial, Congressional Complex. Wars keep the economy going. Everybody knows this. It's why it's against the rules to protest any of these pseudo wars. It's good for the economy. Bottom line. Jobs for the many. Billions for the few. It makes me wonder what it will take to make America less a threat to the rest of the world and keep the economy going too.

These are some of the thoughts that run through my head watching film made on battle fields. It's dear to me as an American male, taught from the cradle that nation comes before everything, war is honorable, to die in war glorious. The war experience makes you a man. I doubt, however, that stands very well according to the Afghan War statistics, more soldiers kill themselves than are killed in battle. That doesn't sound very glorious to me. That's every other guy. And what about the other half that has what it takes to bypass suicide and turn into monsters within to survive? They go home and unleash their madness on wives and kids. They bring the war home. Their families become war casualties unnoticed. Men returned from the Civil War with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They came home and rebuilt their farms or moved on. General Sherman was the atomic bomb of the Civil War. Sherman makes a good case for abortion. After the War he went West and annihilated what was left of the Indians. Making the world safe for suburban sprawl, Walmart and self-worth measured by assets.

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