Too many have died in protecting my pride
For me to go second class
We've survived a hard blow and I want you to know
That you must face us at last
And I know you will give consideration
Shall we perish unjust or live equal as a nation
This is my country
-- Curtis Mayfield
I almost broke down in front of a class today, dragging out memories of “My ol Man,” how he was my hero even though we didn’t get along so well at the end of his life. He was finally trying to reach out; I was a cold and foolish man. I miss him.
My ol man flew 36 combat missions over Germany had his face smashed in combat, breathed through his smashed face all the days I remember him and wouldn’t take any muck about being a “wounded war hero.”
I used to tease him about being a “wounded war hero,” and the last year of his life he snapped at me, “The real heroes never made it off Omaha beach.” He never took credit, never wore his uniform again, wouldn’t apply for GI benefits (I could have gotten a free education, but nooooo) and when I asked him about it, he just snapped, “Hey, I saw guys bleed to death on the airplane.” That was it. End of discussion.
So today some are still rah-rah yellow-ribbon and (as the Germans say) “Hurrahpatriotismus und Flaggehochhalten” about a dirty little fireworks display for the Great Unwashed where we are using nuclear weapons (Depleted Uranium—check it out) against a defenseless and suffering population in the name of some kind of “war” on an abstract noun so fat politicians can keep their well-paid seats.
I do have experience with fireworks displays for the Great Unwashed so fat politicians can keep their seats. Every “American” male my age had to deal with “Vietnam” (which is a country—not a war) one way or another. I won’t bore you with my own personal experience, but please let me say it left scars on me that will never heal, not as severe or visible as the ol Man’s smashed face, but permanent nonetheless.
Today those scars hurt. No, this isn’t about wah-wah poor me at all. This is about millions of us of all ages and colors who are sick as hell of this goddam masquerade and are not going to take it any more. If you will allow a bit of personalization and over-simplification, it takes the form of a fat bully in my face and sneering, “Why do you hate America?” Well, first of all, Sparky, we’re not “America.”
“America” is a continent. We are “Norte Americanos,” which unfortunately puts our Canadian Brothers and Sisters into the same bucket as US. Oh gee, what do we call ourselves now, “US Citizens? We grabbed the name of a Continent. Now, I am neither “proud” nor “ashamed” to be a US Citizen, that’s just what I am by an accident of birth. But there is such a thing as “My Country,” and here it is.
I have turned my back on “my country” many times and gone somewhere else, and here’s what I learned from that experience is the dry old cliché, “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” My Country is blues and jazz music, the sunrise/sunset over the Great Lakes, the cornfields of Indiana, my home. It is the heart of my German immigrant ancestors, who came here seeking peace.
My old Man was not a “warrior,” he was a soldier because he had to be, because he took up that burden when he thought it was necessary, laid it down for the rest of his life because he understood war and passed this understanding on to his little boy. His little boy now takes up that terrible burden, to be a “soldier of Truth,” that war is wrong, ignoble, and incomprehensible. I approach it as labor, like my ancestors did.
When we must fight, we shall. When we can avoid it, we will. Call us cowards, we do not care a fig. If you stir up the fight, if you must have conflict, if, since the Dark Times, this is the only way you can define virtue, we laborers will decide the conflict. Our problem is we return to our homes and farms, some of us extol our imagined warrior virtues, some forget, and the cycle repeats itself. Let us not forget this time.
You wannabe warriors who play video games and glorify conflict you cannot understand. When you come up against soldiers, you will loose. Because to the soldier it is not about losing or winning, it is about survival. You cannot possibly understand that until you are engaged. So you engage the soldiers of the Jihad at your peril, dragging the rest of us to your ultimate defeat. I will not participate.
This is My Country.