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September 25, 2009

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Sonnet for the Vietnam Dead

They were but boys, whose lives you threw away.

They went because the country asked them to,

And served a cause their leaders would betray—

Thank Christ they never saw that bitter day.

They lived in holes, and slept in soaking rain,

Grew thin, and sick, and weary through and through.

They knew each day the taste of fear and pain,

And never thought that sacrifice was vain.

And when the touch of death had come around,

To valiant lives forever shaming you,

For love of comrades and by honor bound,

They poured their blood like water on the ground.

And we who loved them, we cannot forget—

And won’t forgive—while breath is in us yet.

Robert A. Hall

Former SSgt, USMC

Thank you for your submission Robert! We appreciate your service.

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14 Comments
  1. Swemson permalink
    September 25, 2009 11:35 am

    Bravo SSgt Hall

    Oooh Rahhh !

    Swemson…
    Not as lean, not as mean, but still (and always) a Marine !

  2. LanceThruster permalink
    September 25, 2009 12:46 pm

    “O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle-be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it-for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

    Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer”

  3. pbrauer permalink
    September 25, 2009 3:53 pm

    We should all honor our war dead, as they are true patriots. I wonder, David, if you would have been willing to sacrifice your life for such as fight as Vietnam. I am a veteran of the Vietnam era, although I never served there.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      September 25, 2009 4:03 pm

      I became draft age in ’75; just as we got out. I considered enlisting but took the committment seriously and did not feel confident that I could trust my government not to order me to kill people that did not deserve to be killed.

      The image if the little Vietnamese girl horribly burned in the napalm strike stuck in my head. War unleashes so much death, destruction, and misery that it should not be engaged in lightly. I think far too many times it is used as an option of first resort rather than one of last resort. Too often, going to war is a sign of failure rather than a mark of strength and success.

    • LanceThruster permalink
      September 25, 2009 4:13 pm

      BTW, Cheney said about his rationale for his multiple deferments, “I had other priorities in the 60’s than military service”

      Jim Carroll – Barricades

      We should have left at once
      We should have never stayed
      Now they have drawn the line
      Now there is a barricade
      Now there’s a barricade
      A barricade
      Who makes promises?
      Who makes promises through a thick lead door?
      Through an intercom on the 23rd floor?
      Who makes promises and then promises more?
      Who makes promises for el salvador?

      Bobby’s getting called. Billy’s getting called
      Juan’s getting called, John’s getting called . . .
      They get a letter in the mail, they get a telephone call

      It says, “come on, come on . . .”
      It says, “come on . . .”

      All the american boys
      Asleep beneath American shade
      Awake on foreign soil
      They awake inside the barricades
      Inside the barricades

      The sun curves over the jungle
      And trees grow from the dead nun’s lungs
      But when the ship is in the harbor
      Then the cyanide pill’s on their tongue
      Inside the barricade, inside the barricade

      Girls, no more going out dancing
      And boys, there’s no more getting laid
      You’re gonna parachute to the holy land
      And you will drop into the barricades
      Inside the barricades, inside the barricades

      Who makes promises for the neutron bomb?
      It will singe your lungs to death
      And leave the corporate walls unharmed . . .
      Who makes promises with such insidious charm?
      But it would have made things cleaner
      In old Vietnam . . .

      That’s when Kevin got called up
      Ritchie got called . . .
      And Kevin never came back
      Ritchie never came home

      Their folks got a letter in the mail
      They got a letter in the mail . . .

      I ain’t gonna die for Standard Oil
      IBM. . . . I wouldn’t die for them!
      G.E.? not me!

      “come on” they say, “come on”
      They say, “come on”
      And you say,”ahh”. . .
      You just say, “later!”

  4. pbrauer permalink
    September 25, 2009 4:34 pm

    Hey Lance, do your remember that Richard Nixon promised to end the war BEFORE he was elected, but 20,000+ troop died there while he was President?

  5. theblanque permalink
    September 25, 2009 8:41 pm

    Hey, Lance, pbrauer–did you remember when the Democrats voted to not re-supply the ARVNs, thereby condemning South Veitnam to rape and slaughter in 1975?

  6. shane permalink
    September 26, 2009 5:09 am

    I remember when LBJ –let’s see,wasn’t he a democrat?? got us into the bloody mess.(big time,I mean) I remember when Walter Cronkite(liar) said we lost the TET offensive. I remember when NV General Giap stated the American media won them the war-in his book he states how quick they were to collapse. I don’t know if VN was justified or not, but the poem by the sargeant is dead on-we shat on the vets,and continue to do so.

  7. September 26, 2009 10:01 am

    God bless them ALL!!!!

    What the American public did to those fearless warriors upon their return was beyond contemptable. It was one of the ONLY times I was ashamed of the people of this country. AND NOW….those same idiots are running the country.

    God Bless all our warriors and God help us!

  8. Kate Powell permalink
    September 27, 2009 2:34 pm

    It is easy to slag soldiers when you have never been in a war zone.
    Why have you never been in a war zone?
    Soldiers have kept you out of war zones.

    God Bless all our warriors and God help us!

    • LanceThruster permalink
      September 27, 2009 9:24 pm

      Don’t know who you think is slagging on soldiers (and Marines) but making sure their lives are not squandered is the duty of every American.

      My friend’s son was with Marines 1/5 for the fall of Baghdad. He was written about (though not by name) in “A Table in the Presence: The Dramatic Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experienced God’s Presence Amidst the Chaos of the War in Iraq” by LT. Carey H. Cash. He was awarded a commendation for saving the life of a fellow Marine who had half his face blown off from an RPG round that hit the Bradley they were patrolling in. He returned fire through the hole in the BFV while tending to the wounded Marine.

      At his welcome home celebration, I asked him what his experience over in Iraq was like.

      He said, “We killed people for no reason.” His father explained to me that his checkpoint was regularly called upon to open fire on fast approaching vehicles. One time it was full of women and children fleeing who knows what. He had to help render aid to wounded kids crying in pain and anguish and fright next to their dead mothers. He said he saw enough to know it was important to “support the troops, but not the war.”

      I won’t even get into trying to refight Vietnam here with those wanting to hang the defeat around the necks of DFH’s. Watch the doc “Hearts and Minds” and the Bill Paxton movie “A Bright Shining Lie”.

      As far as God goes, I’m an unbeliever. I find it odd that the call for “blessings” are so selective. Unless there’s a shortage on grace, bless the world. Let everyone get in on some beneficence as it could help make the bad turn good and the good be better, no?

  9. LanceThruster permalink
    September 28, 2009 1:35 pm

    Also, regarding the disdain for Halliburton’s chicanery. Here’s a decorated Marine commenting on the profiterring of the WWI era. He was also approached by giants of the corporate world to help instigate a coup against the US. Rather than be tried for treason, it was pretty much swept under the carpet.

    from:

    War is a Racket: Full Text by Smedley Butler

    Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, USMC,
    1881 – 1940
    Two-time recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor

    “I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force–the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected I was part of a racket all the time. Now I am sure of it.” S. D. Butler

    Thank goodness for truth-tellers from the warrior class!

  10. Swemson permalink
    September 28, 2009 1:50 pm

    Oh.. so generals can’t be jerks too ?

  11. LanceThruster permalink
    September 28, 2009 2:49 pm

    This, from the same side that claimed that to reject or critque Gen. David Petraeus’ report on the Iraq war was the same thing as hating the troops.

    What have you done Swemsom that in any fashion comes close to the sacrifices Smedley Butler made for his country? It must be pretty goddam impressive for you to determine outright he was a “jerk” though you conveniently fail to provide the least bit of justification for that assessment. He actually saved the republic by helping to foil a coup attempt by industrialists (who got away scott free btw).

    I guess considering your scary qualifications to pontificate, your pronouncement is more than enough.

    (hint – pull your head out – it restricts your ability to breathe and cuts off oxygen to your brain)

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