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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

I Have Created Life But Never Taken It – PART 2

Golden Gate National Cemetary

“Hey, douchebag. There was a lot happening between Vietnam and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom. Plenty of chances to get your war on. Too bad you didn’t have the balls to join.”  ~~    US Soldier’s note to me.

Apparently, a number of  individuals who fought in our recent wars wanted to kick my ass after a reader shared last week’s post, I Have Created Life But Never Taken It, on a popular website for military personnel.

I am grateful for these candid reactions. They definitely woke me up. Here is a further sampling of the soldiers’ unfiltered and heartfelt thoughts:

  1. As he says he “never went to war. Never killed a man. Never got shot at. Never watched a friend die mid-sentence” so he has no clue wtf he’s talking about, he’s just another self righteous never-been civvie talking about concepts he can’t conceivably understand because he chose not to serve.

  2. “I am not particularly sensible, just happened to be born in the pocket between senseless death in the Far East (Vietnam) and senseless death in the Middle East (Iraq & Afghanistan).” So he believes the deaths of these men was senseless? The author can go fuck himself.

  3. It was a good read, but that “senseless death” comment pissed me off.

  4. Senseless death? The men I went to basic with or served with in real units who aren’t here now didn’t die senselessly, they died defending this country, seeking vengeance for the 3000 people who died on 9-11 no different than the ww2 vets who went to war to avenge the 2500 who were killed at Pearl Harbor.

  5. One thing he’s right about though, I’m not a hero, no matter how many times random civvies say I am, I only did what was expected of me. We got attacked, I enlisted, that’s just doing what you are supposed to do. What he refuses to recognize is that is the same sense of duty that led the WW2 guys to enlist after Pearl Harbor.

My response is this:

I cannot overstate my gratitude for the sacrifice made by the soldiers who fought in Vietnam and since. They are people of distinct honor and incredible courage.

The issue I have is not with the soldiers but with the leaders who were MISLEADING both the nation and the fighters they sent to harm’s way.

The critical issue here appears to be my use of the word “SENSELESS.” Let me define terms. My use of “senseless” is based not on the idea that the soldiers’ actions were senseless, quite the contrary. These men and women answered a call and did what they believed to be right for a country most worthy of their sacrifice. 

Senseless has nothing to do with the soldiers themselves. The senselessness stems from the false pretenses that underlied those conflicts. And from the deceit of US leaders in prosecuting these wars. Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, said it himself about Vietnam, “We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who participated in the decisions on Vietnam acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of this nation. We made our decisions in light of those values. Yet we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why. I truly believe that we made an error not of values and intentions, but of judgment and capabilities.”

One could argue Iraq is worse, given that we now know that war was predicated on bald-faced lies orchestrated to lead us all to believe the fight was with Saddam. When draft-dodgers have the ruthless audacity to instigate wars that kill honor-bound volunteers, society has a serious problem. THAT is senseless. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that cold-blooded piece of garbage, Saddam, is dead. But he had nothing to do with 9-11 nor Al Queda at that time.

Thus, it is an immoral travesty that any of our soldiers died in his country … and in wars which, in retrospect, we know were misguided. 

Fortune and Courage, mixed media on paper, 19"x15" 2005, Stuart Sheldon

Fortune and Courage, mixed media on paper, 19″x15″ 2005, Stuart Sheldon

That does not detract at all from these soldiers’ noble sacrifices. Anyone who enlisted post 9-11 to serve the honor of America is righteous. Period! 

My dad served in the 50s in the Army. As did my uncle. I did not enlist because I did not have to nor feel the need to do so. I wanted to pursue my education and career. But, make no mistake, I recognize how lucky and pampered my life is for not having had to serve. I respect the soldiers’ opinions above. And want these men to know that I deeply appreciate their service, no matter what they think of me.

As I said last week, it all comes down to gratitude. Thank you Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan vets. You did your difficult jobs with your heads high. My small words do not begin to do your enormous sacrifice justice.

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