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The Long Line.

By       Message Lawrence R. Velvel     Permalink

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Summary For Op Ed News


            The problems at Walter Reed are (only) the latest in a long line of misconduct towards American servicemen who have returned from wars.

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March 8, 2007

                                           Re:  The Long Line. 

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel

Walter Reed 

Is a huge misdeed,

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Yet not momentous

Nor portentous.

For it’s only the latest in the line

Of serial crime

That has victimized men

When they’re home again

From the wars.

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After World War I

There was poverty

And then the attack

On the bonus army.

After World War II

The South’s racist crew --

Which meant nearly all Southern whites --

Kept blacks in suppression

With Jim Crow repression

Though they’d helped win the war

(At Iwo Jima, on D-Day, in the air, nearly everywhere).

This had happened before

After the Civil War

And the Spanish war --

Blacks always thought

That if they fought

And proved they were men

They’d be treated as befits a citizen.

But it was never to be

Until, in part to avoid World War III,

That is, in part as foreign policy,

They received rights that belong to the free.

And after Viet Nam,

When victimized men came home again --

Men victimized by Johnson’s stupidity

And his mendacity,

And by Nixon’s political cupidity,

And his mendacity

And his plain evil soul --

Once again men weren’t treated right

Though we’d sent them to Viet Nam to fight.

It should not have mattered

Whether one opposed the war

Or had filled the air with “Patriotic Gore.”

Men who carried the fight

Should have been treated right --

This is just decency --

But again they were not.

Most despicably not

When by superpatriot

Who had urged the war.

But culpably too by almost everyone else,

Especially seekers of political pelf --

The swine.

Will no one rid of us of them, as Shakespeare said?

Though I’m not suggesting that they should be dead

(As he did).

But only that a better class should arise

Even if this would greatly surprise.

So Walter Reed, you see,

Though in memory

Will be remembered for ignominy,

Is but the latest in a long line

Of misdeeds towards the men “Who shall have borne the battle” (as Lincoln  put it).


Kipling had it right:

“‘[I]t’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that,’ an ‘chuck him out, the brute!’”

But it’s not “‘savior of ‘is country’when the guns [no longer] shoot.”

Then it’s the rat infested infirmary,

The holed and dirty room contrary

To everything we’ve learned since Koch.

It’s the careless incompetence of those who botch

The care they provide troops in their care,

And with bullshit excuses fill the air --

They and behind them everyone

Responsible for the atrocity that is Iraq,

For the disaster that’s Bush’s biggest crock

Of all the many he has foisted on us.

Will no one rid us politically

Of this horrid, mishapen monstrosity?*

* This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to comment on the post, on the general topic of the post, or on the comments of others, you can, if you wish, post your comment on my website,  All comments, of course, represent the views of their writers, not the views of Lawrence R. Velvel or of the Massachusetts School of Law.  If you wish your comment to remain private, you can email me at   

VelvelOnNationalAffairs is now available as a podcast.  To subscribe please visit, and click on the link on the top left corner of the page.   The podcasts can also be found on iTunes or at 



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Lawrence R. Velvel is a cofounder and the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, and is the founder of the American College of History and Legal Studies.

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