Sunday, April 20, 2003

Talking With a "Pro-War" Veteran

Dear Editor,

I met a Vietnam vet in February whom I will call “Mike”. He came to my place of business with a bullhorn to yell that I “don’t support the troops”. This was his reaction to an article about a peace demonstration I was organizing because of a lack of media attention paid to the local anti-war movement which was (and is) huge. Instead of calling the cops, I went out to talk with “Mike” and I am so glad that I did.

I learned in the course of a 45 minute conversation that we have many things in common, foremost, a deep and sincere concern for other human beings and a deep distrust in most of the liars who govern us. As portrayed by our media, “Mike” (the “soldier”) and Matt (the “protestor”) are supposed to be diametrically opposed, right? Well, what a surprise that our attitudes really aren’t all that far removed!

“Mike” and I are both disillusioned by the lack of voice people have in our democracy. I am a Green for that reason exactly. He was disgusted by the lack of media attention given to veterans prior to our occupation of Iraq. I, myself, couldn’t believe that our own “hometown” newspaper had all but ignored the existence of 60-85 local protestors in full force every Saturday for three months before the bombing began (12 of whom were veterans). Having been to war, these Americans seem to recognize, perhaps better than most, why war is never to be entered into except as a last resort. Their voices certainly should have been heard before our lying (p)resident caused a single American soldier or Iraqi worker to die. The media failed, miserably. (As a side note, I saw Rex Smith speak several weeks ago and he referred to the Times Union as an “independent paper”. God help us all! A Hearst paper, independent?!)

I think that “Mike” came to understand that I am no enemy of the troops, I just believe in supporting veterans after the war, too, not only when its “on”. I believe that we have to impeach and imprison officials who would use the military as a tool for their personal enrichment. I learned that “Mike” is not a simple minion of a corrupt administration but a human being who has been through much in his life and who is, as , or more frustrated by, current events than even I am.

We both believe in supporting the troops in peace time and in using them only as a last resort. To me and to Mike, this was clearly not a last resort. It was this corporate administration’s imperialist plan all along. To Mike, the war’s on now and the merit of it can no longer be an issue. In the final analysis, that is where we disagree. “Mike” feels that we have to support the war once the machine is in motion, regardless of its rationale. I don’t. I say get all of our people out, now. Our troops AND KBR and Halliburton, too!

“Mike”, I just want to say that it was truly a pleasure to meet you. Lets both keep banging our heads against our respective walls in our two different ways. As the old hipster said, “If the people lead, The leaders will follow”.

Matt Funiciello

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