Early Morning Open Thread: Memorial Day

Sebastian Junger, in the Washington Post:

The growing cultural gap between American society and our military is dangerous and unhealthy. The sense that war belongs exclusively to the soldiers and generals may be one of the most destructive expressions of this gap. Both sides are to blame. I know many soldiers who don’t want to be called heroes — a grotesquely misused word — or told that they did their duty; some don’t want to be thanked. Soldiers know all too well how much killing — mostly of civilians — goes on in war. Congratulations make them feel that people back home have no idea what happens when a human body encounters the machinery of war.

I am no pacifist. I’m glad the police in my home town of New York carry guns, and every war I have ever covered as a journalist has been ended by armed Western intervention. I approved of all of it, including our entry into Afghanistan… But the obscenity of war is not diminished when that conflict is righteous or necessary or noble. And when soldiers come home spiritually polluted by the killing that they committed, or even just witnessed, many hope that their country will share the moral responsibility of such a grave event.

Their country doesn’t…

Our enormously complex society can’t just start performing tribal rituals designed to diminish combat trauma, but there may be things we can do. The therapeutic power of storytelling, for example, could give combat veterans an emotional outlet and allow civilians to demonstrate their personal involvement. On Memorial Day or Veterans Day, in addition to traditional parades, communities could make their city or town hall available for vets to tell their stories. Each could get, say, 10 minutes to tell his or her experience at war.

Attendance could not be mandatory, but on that day “I support the troops” would mean spending hours listening to our vets. We would hear a lot of anger and pain. We would also hear a lot of pride. Some of what would be said would make you uncomfortable, whether you are liberal or conservative, military or nonmilitary, young or old. But there is no point in having a conversation about war that is not completely honest….

Seriously: Read the whole thing — it’s not long!

114 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Our library had a grant to do a “Boomers in Athens Project” and part of it are interviews with local Vietnam Vets. I was interviewed and talked mainly about my Korea tour because the Blue House Raid and Pueblo incident are relatively unknown.

  2. 2
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Good morning. Nice to have a day off.

    I propose a toast this morning:

    To Marvin, my brother, who died in the Korean war.

    To Duane, a lover, who went to Vietnam and came back a complete stranger.

    To Leonard, a nephew, who came back from Vietnam with nightmares and an addiction. [He recovered, fortunately.]

    To the young man who lost his humanity in Abu Ghraib and is totally, completely messed up and probably will be forever.

    To the families of soldiers who suffered traumatic brain injuries.

    And to the children who just don’t understand what has happened to the adults around them.

    [Having decades of memories is not always a good thing.]

  3. 3
    raven says:

    @Linda Featheringill: I always been fascinated by the idea that “he was so different when he came home”. Uh, if someone went to that kind of shit and wasn’t changed that would be astounding.

  4. 4
    raven says:

    I really think Biden was on to something here, I hope so anyway:

    “There will come a day, I promise you, and your parents, as well, when the thought of your son or daughter or your husband or wife (or friend) brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye”

  5. 5
    NotMax says:

    Shorter version:

    Several weeks of basic (mostly effective) training going in, we have.

    Several weeks of basic (mostly effective) untraining going out, we lack.

  6. 6
    raven says:

    @NotMax: We were soul mates in an asylum. . .

  7. 7
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I wouldn’t mind a tv special where vets talk about experiences, but if you think I’m going to relive high school with a mandatory rally you’ve got another thing coming.

  8. 8
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @NotMax: Yeah, too fucking right. Not just for military service but a lot of things in life. Exit counseling. A helping hand.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if we took care of our own the way that 60’s movie The Manchurian Candidate wants us to have?

  9. 9
    NotMax says:


    Might put it a little differently. Say, cogs in a soulless machine.

    Either way though, neither the asylum nor the machine ought be worshiped. Acknowledged, yes. Accepted, yes. Possibly even respected, yes. But not worshiped.

    (Not saying you are expressing worship, just noting how that has come to be the unquestioning standard among too many political sectors. Also not denigrating, collectively, the cogs or soul mates.)

  10. 10
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I wonder if the Korean war is what made my gentle grandad an alcoholic for many years.

    I wonder if being the child of an alcoholic is why my dad married an abuser like my mom (his siblings didn’t do much better).

    That side of the family doesn’t have a lot of deep dark secrets, but all that’s ever been said about Korea is that it’s where Grampa lost his hearing.

  11. 11
    eric nny says:

    On my way to the Legion to be part of the color guard for cemetery wreath laying and march in the parade. It’s one of the only things I do all year to honor vets which leaves me feeling a bit guilty in these days.

    Also, Face if you read this comment, we did get frost so know that I’m hating on you.

  12. 12
    lamh36 says:

    Good Morning.

    Saw Fast & Furious last night. It was good, but and I I can’t believe I’m saying this, but there was too much lovey dovey feelings & such (and not to spoil, but…

    The one lovey dovey I was invested in did not go as I’d hope.

    Anyway short review, great action sequences & funny dialogue. I was thoroughly entertained.

  13. 13

    I remember Memorial Day as a kid as fund and crepe paper, but I also remember one where I followed the parade to the end.

  14. 14
    nancydarling says:

    My oldest brother served in the Korean War. He was a forward observer for the artillery—not a good job and a lonely one. He talked of guys he saw who drew the artillery fire down on their own bunker when they were being over run by North Koreans and didn’t have time to get out.

    Uncle Sam got him from the USA to Korea in 30 hours. It took 30 days to get him home on a ship with a short stopover in Hawaii, through the Canal to NYC and then a plane to Wichita. He was still like a cat on a hot tin roof for weeks and months after he got home. Thinking about him, I believe that restlessness never left him totally.

    The 30 day trip at least gave him a chance to unwind that tightly coiled man he had become. We take these kids out of the “meat grinder” and drop them back into “normal” and expect them to pick up where they left off. It can’t be done.

    He never talked about the war unless prompted. I once asked him what was the most profound thing he learned in the war. He said for the first time, he understood the meaning of total chaos.

    He died in 1998 at age 68 from pancreatic cancer.

    I still miss you, Sammy.

  15. 15
    NotMax says:

    Obligatory Memorial Day video link #1.

    Obligatory Memorial Day video link #2.

  16. 16
    Judge Crater says:

    Hey, we’re a “Warrior Nation” now – all this crap comes with the territory. Militarism is the road we’ve chosen. Talking about the costs will solve little.

  17. 17
    HeartlandLiberal says:

    I opposed the move from the draft to the “professional” volunteer army. I have always supported the idea that ALL young Americans should server at least two years, either in military training, or social service. Men and women. And receive credit towards equivalent years of college for each year served. I believe this nation should implement that now.

    Right now we have not a professional army, but a press gang army, in which those who volunteered have been forced illegally and destructively through repeated tours of duty, destroying them mentally, destroying their lives, their families.

    We have become the nation of imperialism and the eternal war machine, and soldiers are fodder for the madmen at the top waging undeclared and unconstitutional wars. We are no longer the nation that raised an army of citizens to defend itself.

  18. 18
  19. 19

    Meanwhile, Ron Paul’s war with the United Nations didn’t go well

    What a fucking crackpot.

  20. 20
    debbie says:


    Uh, if someone went to that kind of shit and wasn’t changed that would be astounding.

    By the time I got myself to return to college, a number of Viet Nam vets were there on the GI Bill. Since I was closer in age to them than to the freshmen, I gravitated toward them because we had more in common. A great group of guys, but there wasn’t a single one of them that wasn’t damaged.

    War is the ultimate failure of civilization. That will never change.

  21. 21
    raven says:

    @nancydarling: After the horrific battle of Okinawa and the end of WWII they sent the 1st Marine Division to China for occupation duty for six months, probably a really good idea. I left Vietnam Sept 3, 69 and started at Illinois the 13th but my thing was nothing like those dudes.

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @debbie: We had our own little posse in Champiagn-Urbana but lots of flower kids and radicals were with us.

  23. 23
    raven says:

    @HeartlandLiberal: Yea, no longer for the last 50 years.

  24. 24
    geg6 says:

    I am not a fan of the all-volunteer armed services. I believe the change to all-volunteer has been bad for the country in many ways, but especially in widening the class gap in this country (but we can never discuss class in this country, right?). I support the idea of everyone having a year or two of military/civil defense service post-high school or college.

    Having said that, I am a very eager supporter of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. It does what the original GI Bill did for the WWII generation providing the means for a first-class college education without student loan debt and a living allowance to pursue it. And it actually provides one mechanism for shrinking that class gap and, as a bonus, also gives the veterans opportunities to tell their stories to their more economically fortunate peers. I have found them to, for the most part, fit in well socially, to be leaders in the classroom and to model an excellent work ethic for the other students. It’s just a shame that not all veterans between WWII and Post-9/11 got the same opportunities.

  25. 25
    tt crews says:

    “I’m no pacifist…” Like living a non-violent life is a bad thing.

    Why does he think it is necessary to say this in his essay? An essay which has nothing to do with pacficism?

  26. 26
    debbie says:


    Yes. I was very much against the war, to the point of going to an SDS meeting at the local university (I lasted 10 minutes, too scary). Hanging with those guys was probably the first time I saw that there are no absolutes in life.

  27. 27
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    My outfit flew out of the Delta to Saigon. We then flew home. I went to the 32nd street Naval Station. Someone asked me if I wanted to ship over. Someone else played a record of the national anthem.That was it. I weighed 185 when I left. I weighed 144 when I got back.

  28. 28
  29. 29
    raven says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: We got steak and ice cream in Oakland but they were all fucked up because that was the beginning of the stand-down we sat on a concrete floor for three goddamn days to process out.

    Then my buddy from the city came and got me, we dropped and went to see Santana at the Fillmore!

  30. 30
    raven says:

    Off to Lowes for that 10% vets discount!

  31. 31
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    One of my closest childhood friends joined the Marines to pay for college in June 2001. He ended up in Fallujah during the worst of the street to Street fighting. He came back home physically with barely a scratch on him, he also came back a totally different person. I miss the guy he was a lot.

  32. 32
    mike with a mic says:

    @tt crews:

    Not all pacifism is good. Violence is at times needed. I served, and I certainly didn’t agree with Iraq, but I’d never want to be tarred as a pacifist. In life I accept that there are people and situations in which violence is sometimes the only answer. Pacifism is a first world luxury for the well off and naïve. And even then it’s a first world luxury if you’re the type of person that is blessed with a quality police force and of the socioeconomic level you don’t have to live in fear of them.

    I’ve never seen a pacifist that either didn’t live a privalidged life and was utterly ignorant of how the rest of the world is, or wasn’t such a coward they wouldn’t physically try and stop a rape and just trying to hide behind some false sense of morality.

    Not that violence isn’t abhorrent, and I certainly don’t seek out trouble, but I’m well aware that as a middle class white guy that’s a luxury most don’t have. Though I’m the first to throw a punch or interject into a situation if I feel it’s needed, because in some cases I can help. And because I do want to help I am not a pacifist.

  33. 33
    TS says:

    Every vet I have known wants to talk about anything except his service. “War is hell” & “I was scared, 24X7” was the major part of any discussion. There may be a way to share the horrors of war with civilians (living in a war zone is probably the best way to learn such things) but I don’t think the story telling suggestion is viable.

    I don’t think parades & similar are viable either – to me they celebrate something that should NEVER be celebrated. Looking after those who served, providing adequate funding for their health care, pensions, education, civilian employment and any other veteran issues – that is what is needed to truly thank those who served.

  34. 34
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    I came home and mustered out in civilian clothes. I was a member of an outfit that didn’t exist so the service was more than able to maintain our nonexistence.One fun part was that I had a shitload of money on the books because there was nowhere to spend it. I blew at least a hundred bucks at the first 7-11 I could find.

  35. 35
    Eric U. says:

    the thing that always bothered me about parades was that they have the Generals speak. Don’t wan’t to hear what most of those guys want to say, to be perfectly honest.

  36. 36
    mike with a mic says:

    @Eric U.:

    Trust me, nobody in the service but the brass wants to hear what they have to say either.

  37. 37

    I am not American, I find this article a bit strange.
    First, there are no real “cultural” reasons here. It has long been understood that America goes to war not with the consent of most Americans. In most wars that you have been engaged in in the last 50 years, your elite took you into it. The US Army, like most democratic countries is asked to go to war not because the men and women believe in the “cause” – at least I hope they don’t. They are asked to go to war because a narrow set of people who control media, and huge corporate interests call the shots.
    Given that, it is perfectly natural for most people to be happy with “tribal rituals”. I don’t understand this article’s “Both sides do it” statement. Neither side is “doing it”.
    Fix the Military and the Governing Elite’s “cultural” incentives to go on a perpetual war first – may be then you can focus on the cultural problems of civilians.

  38. 38
    Keith says:

    At the risk of sounding insensitive, I started getting “Support Our Troops” fatigue by around 2006-2007. The wars have obviously been used as a political wedge issue for so many years, and supporting war has been a surrogate of sorts for supporting troops and as a measure of one’s patriotism, that Memorial Day has lost most of its meaning for me. There was a time during the Bush Administration where I’d have even said, “EVERY day is Memorial Day”, and could have backed it up by flipping to FoxNews or CNN to show you the flags all over the screen and the war/troops special that would likely currently be playing. It’s really unfortunate.

  39. 39

    But there is no point in having a conversation about war that is not completely honest….

    But we don’t want an honest conversation about war. We want the fiction of heroes, zero civilian deaths, and casts us always as good people who support our troops for putting a yellow ribbon on our cars and continuing to shop.

  40. 40
    cathyx says:

    This is what you get with an all volunteer army, and a war that has no real definition. It only affects those who join the military.

  41. 41
    big ole hound says:

    On Memorial Day, those of you commenting on how people changed when coming back from combat duty should just stfu. I was in Nam and it changed me. For every person who came back with problems there are a hundred who just grew up and got on with their lives. This day is for the dead, not the damaged.

  42. 42
    aimai says:

    I met Sebastian Junger over the summer at a party. He’s a very, very, cool person and a very thoughtful one. But this essay strikes me as bizarre. The reason the TV show host thought that “soldiers” “talk about the war” is because to the mass media and the right wing the fact that there are soldiers, or people willing to take the king’s shilling and fight and die, is seen as proof of the nobility of war–and the necessity of war (“I’m not a pacifist”) is seen as proof of the nobility of being a soldier. Naturally soldiers are thought to represent (and speak about) their holy calling even though they are actually treated as holy fools who simply mindlessly and obediently perform their duty and are dragged out and saluted/worshipped/admired ritually but not in reality.

    I really hate the mindless “liberals say the soldiers are not their problem because they didn’t support the war.” Uh. No. I’ve never heard any liberal say that. Perhaps liberals are people who think that government money and government action should be used to help the soldiers reintegrate into society rather than the push to have “private charity” make this happen? Because we consider the cost of the soldier’s life and death to be something that we should all bear upfront, that must be counted in the cost to the country of the war, that can’t be shoved off on a supplemental or privatized?

    I also think that he is nuts if he thinks that imaginary tribal rituals of men talking about battle was done to exorcize their demons and strip them from pollution. Death pollution, sex pollution, birth pollution–these are all real things in pre-modern societies but war and its slaughter were not considered at all problematic to the killers and there’s no reason to think that men suffered the moral qualms that they do today or needed to excorcise them, or that the retellings around the campfire were anything more than bragging rights. (Also: the idea of storytelling as ur talk therapy is weird. The whole point of early forms of pollution is that they are materialist–your volution or your intentions don’t really affect whether you were considered polluted and until christianity and confession didn’t affect how you cleansed yourself from your sins. Cleansing was a ritual with steps that everyone could complete. No confession and no talking was necessary.)

  43. 43
    Joey Maloney says:

    @mike with a mic: Pacifism is a first world luxury for the well off and naïve.

    And that’s why Gandhi was such a good bare-knuckle brawler.

  44. 44
    Eadwacer says:

    I am of two minds on it, but there’s something to be said for bringing back the draft. If everybody had to do a hitch in the military, they’d have a lot better understanding of what it means to promote the use of force overseas, and a lot less respect for the generals.

  45. 45
    Cacti says:

    I am no pacifist

    Sad that he needs to use this phrase to establish his American bona fides.

    I’m glad the police in my home town of New York carry guns

    Otherwise, all of the brown folks they stop and frisk might not feel sufficiently menaced.

    and every war I have ever covered as a journalist has been ended by armed Western intervention

    And I’d dare say a fair number of them had their roots in Western political meddling and economic exploitation.

  46. 46
    kerFuFFler says:

    My dad served in WWII and has only just recently told us about some of the things he experienced. During one such conversation he choked up and could not speak for a bit and it struck me in that moment that my son is the same age my father was (23) when he was stationed in the Pacific! And (DUH!) tons of soldiers are younger than that. I just could not imagine my son handling those experiences, and yet I know so many American families have sent their young men and women off to war.

    My dad is 90 and felt he finally had to talk about his experiences. I like the idea of providing vets an opportunity to share their experiences when they are ready. I think it could do them and us a world of good.

  47. 47
    liberal says:

    Excellent points.

  48. 48
    raven says:

    @big ole hound: The day is whatever someone wants it to be. Most people don’t give a fuck one way or the other. If people here want to discuss the ramifications of war then they should. I’m glad you came home and just “got on with your life”.

  49. 49
    raven says:

    @kerFuFFler: My dad experienced what is called “late onset PTSD” from his 4 years in the Pacific. He came home, got on with his life and stuffed it for 50 years.

  50. 50
    Cacti says:

    @mike with a mic:

    I’ve never seen a pacifist that either didn’t live a privalidged life and was utterly ignorant of how the rest of the world is, or wasn’t such a coward they wouldn’t physically try and stop a rape and just trying to hide behind some false sense of morality.

    And I’ve never seen a brute who wasn’t convinced that their thuggery was for the greater good of something something.

    I’d also say that the commitment to non-violence of Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi, and those who stood with them, accomplished a much greater and more lasting good than you and your righteous fist could ever hope to.

  51. 51
    liberal says:


    I have always supported the idea that ALL young Americans should server at least two years, either in military training, or social service. Men and women. And receive credit towards equivalent years of college for each year served. I believe this nation should implement that now.

    Nah. If you really, really want to ensure that the nation only goes to war in its own defense, get rid of the bullshit age limit. If we randomly pulled everyone from age 18 to 55, believe me, there’d be no wars except those absolutely necessary for our national survival.

  52. 52
    raven says:

    @Cacti: Can you translate that into German please?

  53. 53
    gnomedad says:

    I was initially impressed with the article; your thoughtful pushback has made me reconsider. “Basic untraining” still sounds like a good idea; what do vets here think of this?

  54. 54
    Cacti says:


    Nah. If you really, really want to ensure that the nation only goes to war in its own defense, get rid of the bullshit age limit. If we randomly pulled everyone from age 18 to 55, believe me, there’d be no wars except those absolutely necessary for our national survival.

    And make conscription laws gender neutral.

  55. 55
    raven says:

    @gnomedad: Apparently at least one of us doesn’t think we should be talking about it.

  56. 56
    Cacti says:


    Can you translate that into German please?

    Right, because the end of Nazism made the world free and safe for everyone…

    Except for the eastern Europeans living under the jackboot of Stalin.

    Or all of the imperial possessions of the Brits.

    Or people of color in the United States.

  57. 57
    jrg says:

    Attendance could not be mandatory, but on that day “I support the troops” would mean spending hours listening to our vets.

    I’ve spent quite a lot of time listening to vets, and come to the conclusion that war is a piss-poor idea in many cases. I doubt that would change if I spent more time listening.

    What is the point, here? That telling war stories will bring some sort of cathartic cleansing to vets? There may be a growing cultural divide, but there’s nothing actionable in this article to address it… And “liberals say the soldiers are not their problem because they didn’t support the war”? What the fuck? Am I the only person who remembers the stories coming out of Walter Reed during the reign of C+ Augustus?

  58. 58
    Cacti says:


    And “liberals say the soldiers are not their problem because they didn’t support the war”? What the fuck? Am I the only person who remembers the stories coming out of Walter Reed during the reign of C+ Augustus?

    Gotta get the obligatory “both sides do it” villager wisdom in there.

  59. 59
    Eric U. says:

    @mike with a mic: I’m a vet and an officer in the inactive reserve. I have always felt this way about Generals talking at memorial day rememberances. Some of them might have actually had combat experience. Lieutenants have fairly high mortality rate in combat. But it seems that, uniformly, Generals give pep talks, heroes, blah blah blah.

    Only a few vets really want to talk about their fallen buddies or even the things they saw that would give people pause in starting wars.

  60. 60
    Amanda in the South Bay says:


    I relied on the Post 9/11 Gi Bill an awful lot myself, and my impression near the end of school for me (I graduated in June 2012) was that there were some changes made in it that really hurt some vets-like not paying vets for breaks between quarters, when they were paid that way to start off with (something that a lot of people complained about online, since a lot of vets didn’t get a part time job for exactly that reason), and prorating benefits based on the exact course load, instead of just going to school for more than part time (it can be hard to get in classes, and since you can only be paid for classes that are required for your degree, you might find yourself in a situation where the number of required credits for your degree you are taking is less than full time).

  61. 61
    scuffletuffle says:

    Just checked my email to find a cheery greeting of “Happy Memorial Day” accompanying coupons to entice me to shop! Comprehension fail somewhere.

  62. 62
    mike with a mic says:


    Neither MLK or Ghandi were actually against violence. The threat of violence was a huge part of Ghandi’s actions and MLK was armed. Their pacifism is something people tried to write over it after the fact, they weren’t actually that. But this sort of washing over history is common. Sort of how people pretend the fight for labor rights wasn’t violent on both sides, it’s one of the reasons it’s not worth fighting for them now that the left is unilateraly disarmed (which I think is actually intention on the part of the upper class).

    But again, typical first world issues of the upper class. Pacifism so wreaks with upper class fuckery it belongs straight with the Reasonoids, Pauls, and McMegan. It’s their domain as well. I’m glad you’re well off enough to stand on that soap box though, it’s nice.

  63. 63
    aimai says:

    @gnomedad: I’m not at all opposed to “Basic Untraining” or some kind of long period of fully paid up re-adjustment to civilian life–they work hard to create a soldier and you have to work hard to unmake him, too. I just dislike the romanticization of “the warrior” ethos–a modern soldier is not “a warrior” and “a warrior” is not a soldier–the Romans had soldiers. Soldiers exist in an army context. They are not free lance fighters fighting for glory or their leaders. The exit strategies (such as they are) that work for one kind of fighter will not work for another.

  64. 64
    jrg says:

    @scuffletuffle: Not really, the best thing you can do for your country is to go shopping. /sarcasm.

  65. 65
    scuffletuffle says:

    @jrg: If I had the income of the 1%, I would be more than happy to.


  66. 66
    Cacti says:

    @mike with a mic:

    Neither MLK or Ghandi were actually against violence

    You really should jump in the wayback machine and straighten out MLK about how he wasn’t actually against violence.

    As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.

  67. 67
    mike with a mic says:

    @Eric U.:

    I left as an E-5. I spent time in both the blue Navy and on the green side with the USMC. My time on the blue side was largely spent around the brass, the green the opposite. And while many of them did see actual combat and could offer some views I considered valid, far too many of them were just happy they had a chance at their war and were mostly paper pushers in their past life.

    I rapidly learned not to trust officers over a certain rank and felt most of them had not skin in the game and a very romantic idea of just what the fuck was going on around them. The ones that weren’t deluded weren’t prone to giving speeches. The most uncomfortable moments are always from NCO’s, the type you didn’t think felt fear. And there is an odd couple of moments of fumbling around and sort of mumbling through things, not being able to actual get the words out.

    Either way I learned I didn’t want to be around for that sort of thing because it was either too painful to stomach or I just wanted to slug someone.

    None the less I don’t regret joining and I should probably use the GI Bill. But as good as it is now, it’s hard to working full time with a job I can’t afford to lose. Pays great and has great health benefits. If I can transition to something I could do it from I would. But my most recent job application is to a University so they’d pay for it anyways!

  68. 68
    lojasmo says:


    Pacifism is a first world luxury for the well off and naïve.

    Mahatma Gandhi would like a word with you.


    Happily, all those signs disappeared when the Kenyan Usurper took office. What a crock of shit.

  69. 69
    Cacti says:


    Mahatma Gandhi would like a word with you.

    Haven’t you heard, the threat of violence was a huge part of Gandhi’s actions.

    And you must have wanted the Germans to win!

  70. 70
    Soonergrunt says:

    @raven: You can get that every day, now.

  71. 71

    @mike with a mic:
    “The threat of violence was a huge part of Ghandi’s actions”
    Ummm..what threat of violence? I am Indian, and fairly read on our history. I have no idea what you are talking about. My grandfather and grandmother lived during Gandhi’s time, and it was not some whitewashing of history that produced his “image” as a pacifist.
    But I think we are talking a not so important point here. Abstractly, we can accept that civil disobedience and non-violent struggle is a tool, one among many tools (although Gandhi never saw it that way).
    But what has that got to with the way “pacifism” is used in the above article? It is clear that pacifism is used in the same way as “isolationism” – both raising a strawman extreme.
    I would also point out that the way you have given examples of pacifism have more to do with personal, moral issues; they make sense when you imagine that the US is going about “defending” herself or acting on “humanitarian” grounds. Yet, these do come into conflict with the concept of national sovereignty. THAT is the basic issue here – what you are doing is treating the community of nations as if it is a few individuals in a Wild West society. The mistake you make is similar to treating your federal government as similar to a family.

  72. 72
    mike with a mic says:


    Ghandi used the threat of violence all the time. So did MLK, MLK even walked around armed.

    You can be against violence, and feel specific uses of it are wrong, and still realize it is some times needed. Most people who’s problems aren’t entirely first world realize this. Raw pacifism is purely glibertarian nonsense.

  73. 73
    Cassidy says:

    @raven: Hooah, brother.

    I think there are a couple of things that are being said that can be really hard to explain to civilians. For instance, the “warrior” thing; everything about training is mental conditioning. It’s why grunts (Infantry) are so damn cocky and arrogant: they’ve been conditioned to believe they are the best and it’s a required mindset going into combat. The “warrior” thing isn’t for society or culture…it’s for the troops, specifically, Support Troops. The “warrior ethos” thing really got prominent in the Army to solve the deep divide between Combat Arms and Support.

    Secondly, vets don’t like to talk about being in combat. It sucks. It brings up bad memories. It makes people who consider themselves pretty stout and tough, cry. All the cliches apply: it’s hell, it changes you, you’re never the same, etc. The big thing, though, that most vets don’t want to talk about or admit, though, is that a part of you always misses it. Combat is the single most exhilarating, scary, chaotic, adrenaline rush thing you’ll ever do. Nothing matches it. Sex, mountain climbing, high speeds, the birth of your kids…nothing. Some people spend their whole lives trying to re-capture that feeling. And there is more to it than that, the camaraderie, the shared intimacy of your unit, but the combat…you never forget it.

  74. 74
    Crop Dusted says:

    Hey Sebastian, you know how you can really ameliorate the horrors of war? Stop “approving” every one of them.

  75. 75
    Sophia says:

    In an honest conversation about war, we’d hear a lot of boredom, dick jokes and “everybody realizes that burn pit is slowly killing us, right?”

  76. 76
    Chris says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    But what has that got to with the way “pacifism” is used in the above article? It is clear that pacifism is used in the same way as “isolationism” – both raising a strawman extreme.


    “Pacifism” and “isolationism” are like “socialism” – something that doesn’t exist and isn’t seriously considered at any level of American politics, but is still ubiquitous in these politics as a bogeyman that anyone can be accused of and that people must constantly work to disassociate themselves from. (“Appeasement” is another good one).

    Not that I’m objecting to the discussion about pacifism. Just pointing out that it’s a complete hypothetical in our political context. Pigs will fly before pacifism gets any foothold in our international relations.

  77. 77
  78. 78
    raven says:

    @Soonergrunt: Nope:

    o qualify for the Everyday 10% Military Discount, you must:

    Be currently serving in, or retired from, a qualifying branch of the Armed Services, or be the immediate family member of someone who is and have a valid military ID Card.


    Be a veteran who receives VA benefits and have a valid Veteran Identification Card (VIC).

    We honor all Veterans on three specific holidays: Memorial Day, 4th of July and Veterans Day. During these three holiday weekends, we extend the discount to all veterans who served honorably and who present a valid Form DD214 or other proof of service. The Lowe’s Military Discount is extended to the Veteran community on these three holidays only.

  79. 79
    Cacti says:

    Anyway, back to my original impressions…

    I thought the strangest part of this article was the gratuitous reference to the NYPD, and how the author is grateful that they carry guns.

    I’d venture that if you did a poll between white and non-white NYers, you’d get some very different results about their level of gratitude for the guns of the NYPD.

  80. 80
    mike with a mic says:


    I’ve noticed a fair amount of the vets I know prefer the company of each other. You’re not given crap about how much you drink, why riding a bike sans helmet is stupid, or the myriad of other coping mechanisms you might pick up. It’s just left alone. Plus the amount of stupid questions you get goes down. Nobody wants or needs you to explain anything, they realize it’s pointless.

    We have a rugby group around here. Which is more of a drinking and rugby group. Boxing and MMA are popular as well.

  81. 81
    gbear says:

    The Zombies’ ‘A Butcher’s Tale‘ from their Odessey and Oracle album (the album that ends with ‘Time Of The Season’).

    A song about a soldier in the midst of battle in WW1. Fits the topic at hand very well.

  82. 82
    geg6 says:

    @Amanda in the South Bay:

    It has not been my experience that any changes have disadvantaged anyone at a public university. The only change that has hurt anyone is the cap on tuition at private colleges. Very few of my vets (I’m the VA Certifying Official at my campus, along with being the student aid officer) ever used the break pay (which wasn’t the great deal it was made out to be; it could affect future bennies) and most went to school part-time during summer and so still got a pro-rated BAH. It now provides the BAH for students studying online. It’s a fantastic program and I can’t say how much I appreciate how well, in general, it is run. And the vets we get couldn’t have afforded out tuition and many wouldn’t have ever contemplated going to college without it. It’s the only good thing I can see that ever came out of the fiasco created by the C+ Augustus and Darth Cheney. The one, unabashed good.

  83. 83
    Nerdlinger says:

    @mike with a mic: Examples, please. And MLK never “walked around armed” given that he was denied a carry permit.

  84. 84
    raven says:

    @geg6: Agreed. When I came home I got the same dollar amount as my dad got in 1949. No tuition allowance and a shit monthly. It got better in the early 70’s after a ton of hell raising by “the troops”.

  85. 85
    Cassidy says:

    @geg6: I’ve been using it. It paid for my Firefighter course. It’s going to pay for my Paramedic as well.

    @mike with a mic: Sometimes you need friends to tell you to slow down or wear a helmet.

  86. 86
    Mandalay says:

    @mike with a mic:

    Ghandi used the threat of violence all the time.

    Ghandi was not a complete pacifist, but was very specific on scenarios where violence was legitimate (e.g. Resistance when you or your family was being attacked.)

    That hardly matches your assertion that he “used the threat of violence all the time”. Have you a credible link to support that claim?

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @raven: The Montgomery GI Bill was true crap by comparison to either the WWII or the post-9/11 versions.

    @Cassidy: mwim is just going to see that as liberal elite coddling of manly soldier men who don’t need it.

  88. 88
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Once an NCO, always an NCO. lol I yam what I yam.

    I’ve coddled many a “manly Soldier” when they needed a smart leader to fix their problems.

  89. 89
    geg6 says:


    The old Chapter 30 monthly benefit is still around and still sucks. It’s like $1200 a month, not nearly enough to cover anything without taking out loans. Same for the Chapter 35 (military widows, orphans, and kids of 100% disabled vets) benefits, currently about $900 a month. The Post-9/11 covers tuition (including out of state differences at schools participating in Yellow Ribbon), $1000 for books and a monthly living stipend adjusted to the cost of living in the area of the college’s campus. It is pro-rated two ways: the percentage of benefit the vet has earned and the rate if attendance. To get the BAH at all, you must be attending at least at a half-time rate and reservists who complete further active duty can increase their benefit percentage. Even better, vets can transfer the benefit to children or a spouse. I love Chapter 33 (the Post-9/11 GI Bill)!

  90. 90
    mike with a mic says:


    While I’m aware of that I do think at times it’s not needed. I get why someone may want to drink themselves into a bottle for a bit and I get why someone may need to periodically engage in activities that could kill them. I also know that moralizing to them or pushing them about it might not be the best thing at that moment. People deal with things in different ways.

    Sadly we don’t deal with people when they come back. I came back intact and turned my service into a DOD contracting job and then moved out in the civilian sector. I know others for whom it wasn’t that simple and are now an utter mess. Permanent veterans disability and unemployable. I don’t really think badgering people for their release valves is helpful. I’d rather we have a greater commitment to every vet having a job and the care they need, but as we aren’t willing to do that I’m not going to shit on people for sky diving or refusing to wear a bike helmet.

  91. 91
    Cassidy says:

    @mike with a mic: Well, let’s add a little nuance here. Skydiving is a fairly controlled activity with a lot of safety measures built in. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is dumb. The only similarity in the behaviors is the thrill seeking.

    So for me, it comes down to: would I have allowed my friend, my fellow vet, one of my Soldiers to go outside the wire without their kevlar? Not only no, but hell no. Would I let the same person drive drunk? No. So yes, we have a responsibility to one another, especially now that we’re civilians.

  92. 92
    Crouchback says:

    @Ramiah Ariya: I think the article is best read with another letter in the New York Times. In theory, a draft would limit military action because the American people as a whole would be involved. In practice, the same elites who are most enthusiastic about waging wars would now be able to wage war at much lower financial cost to themselves. As for their children, they’d evade service or come up with safe duties just like in previous wars. Middle class kids who couldn’t avoid military service would choose the safest options and the combat arms would be filled by the same kids who fill them now. The difference is they’d be paid less and be a lot more disposable. In some ways, a volunteer army does more to make elites pay – they won’t personally serve either way but with a volunteer system they have to pay more in taxes. The New York Times previously ran a piece by Tom Ricks which explicitly argued a draft would make the military cheaper and provide cheap labor for public services – effectively shifting costs of government services from the affluent to the young. If fighting wars costs elites less, do you think we’ll have more or fewer wars?

    As for arguments that elites did serve in World War II – true but irrelevant. Elites served because they were culturally obliged to serve. JFK pulled strings to get into combat. Bush the Elder was a fighter pilot, Bush the Younger served in a “Champagne Unit” of the Texas National Guard. The difference was elites felt no shame about avoiding Vietnam. They felt no shame about avoiding Iraq and will feel no shame about avoiding future wars.

  93. 93
    mike with a mic says:


    I’d stop someone from driving drunk. But not wearing a helmet, yeah I’m not going to say anything about it. I consider behavior that endangers others to be different from stupid thrill seeking. And I’ve ridden a bike sans helmet once or twice and it is much more enjoyable, even without the “hehe I might die thus I feel more alive” aspect it’s the entire “vroom, vroom, wind in hair” physical aspect of it. I get it!

    I’m sure we both agree that veterans services could be a lot better and should be, and that crap like drunk driving is something that should be stopped. But I have a feeling we differ on the amount of personal risk taking and thrill seeking that should be tolerable. I draw the line where you put others at risk that aren’t willing to be a part of said risk. And I really understand why the occasional crossing that line and the rush is needed and cathartic, if dumb.

  94. 94
    Ruckus says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:
    When I was released you had to go to each department head above you and check out, getting their signature. When I made it to the XO he gave me the re-enlistment speech. “You’ll be back, your type always does.” Told him the following – “I have a friend whose dad owns a large dairy with hundreds of cows. They need people to stand in the cowshit and shovel it. I’ll do that before I’d ever come back here and have to work for assholes again.”

    He was not pleased.

  95. 95
    Mandalay says:


    Skydiving is a fairly controlled activity with a lot of safety measures built in. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is dumb.

    Also, the taxpayer is unlikely to be picking up any tab for medical expenses if there is a skydiving accident. Not so much for a selfish motorcycle rider without a helmet who feels entitled to feel the wind in their hair, and the road on their skull.

  96. 96
    mike with a mic says:


    I grew up in a 1% Harvard grad family. I enlisted in the Navy but made an effort to get over to the green side with the Marines. And if you know anything about that side of the Navy it’s the same sort of crap. Jim Webb’s kid enlisted in the Marines, so did McCains. I know other people of that social level who enlisted as well.

    I’d agree that service is currently largely for those of less means, but the elite do often serve. The difference is that in almost every case it’s a family tradition. My grandfather fought in WW1, my father is a holocaust survivor who fought in Korea with the US Army. It’s very much a tradition that giving at least some time and putting your ass on the line is required. In a way it is a warrior and cultural tradition. It’s doing what right and it’s part of earning your stripes into the warrior caste and understanding what your family went to, it’s also about sacrifice… with a tad bit of living up the family name.

    I think that ethos is sort of gone with the Wall Street and Silicone Valley overlords right now, where that sort of service is outright mocked and derided as for the brutes of the South and quaint old traditions. But that’s a societal issue with those communities, not all of us that came from the 1% share or agree with that viewpoint. For many of us they haven’t earned their position in society and are toxic assholes. I’ll take your most crazed redneck I served with over any of the Wall Street royalty I’ve dealt with.

  97. 97
    mike with a mic says:


    BS you plow into the ground and the state is picking it up. The state will also cover your ass fuck scuba diving gone wrong or bungee jumping.

    However this is more an argument for UHC rather than condemning fun if silly acitivities.

  98. 98
    Crouchback says:

    @Crouchback: My apologies – for some reason I thought this was linking to the NY Times piece today supporting the return of the draft – I hadn’t had my coffee yet. Please delete my post.

  99. 99

    How many democratic countries have a draft? How do they all survive this whole “incentive for waging a war” without a draft? What is the missing piece that makes war such a necessary thing that “more wars” and “less wars” are actually terms used in debate? Why is a “no war” situation such an unattainable ideal, given that WWII occured and the result was declaring waging war the ultimate crime against peace and humanity?

  100. 100
    Mandalay says:

    @mike with a mic:

    BS you plow into the ground and the state is picking it up.

    There are no medical expenses in a skydiving accident. But there are for those who feel entitled to ride without a helmet. And there are consequences for their friends and family, as well as the taxpayer, or anyone paying for medical insurance.

    People who ride a bike without a helmet aren’t just massively self-important assholes. They’re selfish parasites who don’t care about anyone else.

    And before you defend your pathetic “right” to feel the wind in your hair, ask yourself this: how would you feel about your 17 year old daughter getting on her motorbike without a helmet?

  101. 101
    mike with a mic says:

    @Ramiah Ariya:

    Because there will always be someone willing to use violence against you, it’s the nature animals and we are animals. All it takes is one crazy jackass to find a few other like minded people. Then they have an army and everyone who lacks and army has already lost. Anybody who won’t fight will be slaughtered and everything taken from them.

    This can take place on a local level where some people feel like killing gay people is OK or that they can rape at will, it’s why we have cops. Get enough people together and it can happen on an international level, which is why any society requires a military or another society will subjugate it to it’s will and exploit it.

    You can’t change human nature and that some of us are flawed and will seek to dominate others of us through violence. For some people it’s only the threat of violence that constrains their actions and makes them reign in their ambitions. I guess we could genetically breed another human race and go down the dark road that leads, but is that any more horrid than war?

    There’s a reason the concept of daily life not being extremely violent is a first world white person issue, that’s not the case without a strong state to constrain people in other parts of the world. But “no more war” is strictly a first world pipe dream.

  102. 102
    TG Chicago says:

    Obviously in order to properly commemorate the holiday, we need to follow the advice of Newsmax:

    On Memorial Day, Support Troops With Official Camo Hat

    Clearly buying phony soldier gear is the way to show your respect.

  103. 103
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Judge Crater:

    The militarism is only superficial, though.

    Many of the militarists have never served, not even in peacetime.

    Their entire concept of war is based on what they’ve seen, mostly on the small screen.

    Combat vets are the least likely to be excited about a war. Contrast this with the utter scum of the Village…most of whom haven’t been within shouting distance of a recruiting office, let alone a battlefield. War correspondents don’t advance in the Village, because they spoil the narrative by injecting truth into it…the narrative needs to be clean to attract eyeballs, to improve ratings, to satisfy the Ferengi who control the infotainment complex.

    Which will be the utter downfall of this society. Letting the Ferengi run things.

  104. 104
    Mandalay says:

    @mike with a mic:

    Then they have an army and everyone who lacks and army has already lost.

    You seem blissfully unaware of recent world history.

    Your ignorance on that matches your ignorance about Ghandi.

  105. 105
    Roy G. says:

    My remembrance for those who served and died is always tinged with sympathy for those who died or were damaged for no good reason in imperialist adventures like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Of course the government and the Pentagon wants us to focus on the soldiers and not on the hubristic power trips and political pipe dreams that sent these poor men and women into the meat grinder on some piece of land halfway around the world that was declared at the moment to have some great strategic importance, which usually turned out to be anything but.

    After honoring the military dead and those who served, the best way to spend Memorial Day is to read some Chomsky or Fisk, and get to the truth behind the lies.

  106. 106
    Death Panel Truck says:

    If you’re going to talk about Gandhi, at least try to spell his name correctly.

    @Mandalay: It’s insane to ride without a helmet. I never have. I had to beg my mother to let me have a dirt bike as a kid, and she finally relented, provided I’d promise never to ride without one. I now have a Suzuki Boulevard M109, and I’ve never broken that promise, even though she’s been dead for 30 years now. I wear a full-face helmet. I’m not eager to find out what it feels like to have a errant pebble slam into my face at 100 miles per hour.

  107. 107
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Death Panel Truck: When I got a motorcycle at 17, I made the same promise to my mother. I have not broken it either.

  108. 108
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I say that if someone wants to feel the wind in their hair, they can stick their head out of the car window, like dogs do. ;)

  109. 109
    pat says:

    @Death Panel Truck:

    I read somewhere recently that the states that have no helmet laws are finding they have significantly more organ donors. So there’s that.

  110. 110
    Chris says:

    @Roy G.:

    My remembrance for those who served and died is always tinged with sympathy for those who died or were damaged for no good reason in imperialist adventures like Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

    If by “those who died and were damaged for no good reason” you include the locals, I’d say that describes a fair amount of my feelings too. People who didn’t volunteer to go to war, were not trained in any way for it, but had war imposed on them anyway, and, if they survive the war, have little hope of sailing back to a first world country but will have to live in the rubble for the rest of their lives.

  111. 111
    Nerdlinger says:

    @Death Panel Truck: OT, but playing hockey without a full face mask is insane. I know that my cage saved me more than a few teeth.

  112. 112
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @Nerdlinger: I’d say that any discussion of hard objects flying into your face at high speeds is pretty much on topic here. ;)

  113. 113
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    This is a bit of an uphill battle in our society, don’t you think, with things like computer games that just blatantly make war seem like fun.

  114. 114
    Ruckus says:

    @Death Panel Truck:
    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I made the same promise to myself 45yrs ago.

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