Veterans Day, Any Year
By Hal V. J. Muskat
And, right now, I’m thinking That Wall; I’m recalling also trips to the Armory with my dad, an officer in the National Guard. I’m thinking of my uncle, a WWII and Korean vet who just celebrated his 94th birthday. I’m thinking of those two hundred names and faces I can’t remember, eighteen and nineteen year old kids from my Basic Training company, KIA long before their 20th birthdays. I’ve seen their names on that wall while looking for my own.
Every time I hear, “Thank-you for serving!” I want to reply, “Fuck You!” But, I usually ask, “For What are you thanking me? Shooting old people and children or NOT shooting them?”
a) learning how to do field abortions on “pregnant gook girls”;
b) Being part of a military that is responsible for millions of deaths in Vietnam;
c) Refusing orders to Vietnam;
d) Participating in the GI Movement;
e) Thinking for myself;
f) Not thinking for myself;
g) Following or not following orders?
As a member of the United States Army from 1965 – 1970, I was NOT defending America, our allies, your ancestors, families friends or the so-called “un-born”. America was NOT being attacked by the Vietnamese, much in the same way that America is NOT being attacked by Iraq or Afghanistan.
I for one, do NOT thank current soldiers for their service in Iraq or Afghanistan! I thank and honor those who repudiate this nation’s militarism. I thank Iraq Veterans Against the War for their thought, action and lives. I thank those veterans who organized and testified at the IVAW Winter Soldier Hearings and who continue to give witness to atrocity and mayhem.
I especially thank those veterans who are activists against militarism, occupation and madness.
On Veteran’s Day, I salute, in addition to IVAW, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace, The National Liberation Front of Vietnam, WWII Allied Forces led by General Dwight Eisenhower; Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and all “premature anti-fascists”‘ Resistance fighters against the Nazi’s throughout Europe; Resistance movements from South Africa to South Harlem, from Philadelphia to Nicaragua where my government spent millions attempting to overthrow a democratic government who’s president had the nerve to be critical of the United States.
I do salute those who choose to defend America. Go get the bad guy, McCain will tell you right where he is, but why thank anyone for killing tens of thousands of civilians cause you can’t find the right cave and invaded the wrong nation? Should I thank today’s soldiers for being lied to and believing in that lie? Perhaps their “good intentions” deserve a salute?
On this Veteran’s Day, I again salute those veterans, from the armed forces of all nations who use their training, intelligence and compassion to seek ways in which our governments can find peace without increased militarization of the globe and our ways of life.
You may thank me, and I’d be honored, for my resistance to imperial war, for my support of the National Liberation Front of Vietnam, for my continued activism that nourishes my soul and gives me reason to live and create.
Just don’t blindly thank me for anything you don’t know about.
Perhaps that’s why I can’t seem to find my name on that Wall in a waking state.
Hal V. J. Muskat currently lives in the Bay area.
Editor Note: This post was updated to correct the spelling of the author’s first name.