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September 9, 2005
Warrior to WarriorBy Greyhawk
Vietnam veteran and author John Harriman returns to Mudville with the latest installment of his series Warrior to Warrior, letters from a Vietnam veteran to our soldiers in Iraq.
The new Encino Man is . . . You
Dear Warrior in Iraq . . .
I began thinking about our soldiers in Iraq -- you -- last weekend, wondering again about the kind of world you'll come back to when you come back to "The World."
I know that you're wired into the Internet and you have access to the national news. Still, I can't help thinking that each of you is going to feel like the Encino Man not long after your feet hit the ground back here in the states.
If you don't remember Encino Man, it's entirely understandable. It was a ditzy, forgettable movie on the Rip van Winkle theme to extreme in which two surfer teens in California dig up a Stone Age teenager preserved in ice. It takes awhile for Encino Man to adjust to the modern world but, eventually he does and . . . I don't remember the rest.
What got me thinking about the Encino Man syndrome was a news program, a newspaper story and a book.
In the news program Geraldo Rivera was raving about the United States Army arriving in New Orleans to help evacuate victims of the hurricane. For a few seconds, it felt gratifying to hear somebody give credit for positive events instead of blame for the chaos in New Orleans. But, as I say, that feeling lasted only for a few seconds.
Geraldo began hopping up and down and shouting and dragging one General after another on camera. It wasn't enough to congratulate them and shake their hands. He wanted to trade high-fives and hugs -- and I swear, for a moment, I thought he was going to kiss one of those generals.
For their part, the generals were fairly subdued, standing there with stony, frightened smiles as if they were about to be slobber-kissed by Aunt Geraldo. None of the three had the nerve to punch him out on national television, but each of the three wanted to. You know the look.
And I thought: this is what passes for good news on television.
When you get home, you, too, will have people fawning all over you, sliming you with their insincerity on the news. It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with proving that they support troops while hating war -- and especially your commander-in-chief.
In the news story, a national reporter was recapping the life of the deceased chief justice of the United States, William Rehnquist. Not once but twice, the reporter wrote, without a hint of irony, that part of the legacy of Rehnquist was to have awarded the presidency to George W. Bush in the 2000 elections. The subject of the endless Florida recounts that established that Mr. Bush was, in fact, elected, is no longer open to debate. He was appointed by the Supreme Court. It is history. It is fact merely by the act of constant repetition. This is what passes for straight news. Get used to it.
Those strange strangers who claim to love you, the soldier, will bleed you with a thousand little nicks. They will tell you your effort was wasted, the chaos remains, that you were a victim of lies and a tool of oil men. Not outright, but in the asides, like that bit about the presidency.
But all is not doom and gloom. There's a book out there you need to read before you come home. Its title is "100 People Who Are Screwing up America (and Al Franken is #37)" by Bernard Goldberg.
What's great about this book is not just that Goldberg takes on wackos from both the right and (mostly) the left.
What's great is that Goldberg uses his sharp wit and the very words of the people he lampoons to prove they should not be taken too-o-o seriously.
Oh, it's not just the extremists like the woman who founded PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who protested to Yassar Arafat that terrorists who blow up Israelis should stop using donkeys to carry the explosives. Heck with the people murdered--she didn't care about them. But that jackass, well, in that segment there were two, but you'll have to read for yourself.
Goldberg takes on many others who carry the mantle of respectability: Dan Rather (there's a history there), Jimmy Carter, Robert Byrd, "Will and Grace," Eminem, Edward Kennedy, Barbara Walters and a whole lot of others, including violent game-makers and news executives. Oh, and celebrities.
If you're a conservative who follows such things, as I admit I do, you have seen much of Goldberg's logic before, in the writings of others. There's something else there, though, something that you . . . Encino Man, needs to bear in mind as you readjust to The World.
It's the sense that the people on Goldberg's list do seem to find an inordinately louder voice in America than the average citizen, say, you . . . Encino Man. But it's all right for you to feel and think for yourself. Just because Dan Rather, for one, says it's true, doesn't mean it is so.
In your gut you know you're right about some things. It's very likely that hundreds of people--100 in particular that Goldberg names--are just dead wrong about America.
And there is a huge group of others with no voice at all who feel just as you do.
Till next week . . .
God bless you and Godspeed.
John is a veteran of two combat tours in Vietnam and a member of the American Legion. His novel, Delta Force #1 : Operation Michael's Sword is a fictional account of the 9/11 attacks and the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom.
And today we're proud to announce the publication of the second of John's Delta books, Prelude to War
Posted by Greyhawk / September 9, 2005 4:57 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com