- I have in my possession an honorable discharge from the
armed forces of the United States. This document, form DD214, makes me
a veteran. It is, in its most respected implications, the proof that I
have served my country. I have given a few years of my life, as the enlistment
oath states, in defending the Constitution of the United States as a member
of the U.S. military. I am proud to be a veteran.
- On more than one occasion, however, while expressing
the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, I have been verbally
abused by self-proclaimed patriots, who have made the accusation, "You
-- you are not a veteran!"
- How dare you! How dare you define for me the value of
my service to my country? How dare you question my right as a citizen in
a free society to express my patriotism through dissent, that which is
- How dare you, many of you who are not veterans, dictate
the terms that I, as a free human being, must adhere to in order to meet
your standards for being a veteran?
- How dare you yell at me and tell me to "Move to
Germany! Move to France!" just because I do not see things your way,
nor think the way that you do?
- How dare you accuse me of being a traitor while you support
a selected commander-in-chief who was absent without leave during the last
year of his military service?
- How dare you question my commitment to freedom as I silently
witness at peace vigils each weekend drawing attention to the ongoing lies
of my government and its ever-increasing elimination of the liberties which
I as a sailor swore to protect?
- How dare you indict my service to my nation because I
do not accept violence as a method of conflict resolution?
- How dare you suggest that I do not support our young
men and women now being put in harm's way? It is, after all, the ruling
petroleum cartel who is sending them unnecessarily into battle to spill
their blood and the blood of others, soldiers and civilians, for oil?
- How dare you demand that I tone down my challenge of
any empire hell-bent on global domination?
- I reject, that in order to support our troops, I must
accept war. Henry Fosdick, (1878 - 1969) Unitarian Universalist clergyman,
author and teacher, wrote, "The tragedy of war is that it uses man's
best to do man's worst." I reject that we must use our best creative
minds to make the best high tech horrible war.
- I am a veteran. I am for peace. I am a member of Veterans
For Peace. Believing that war in all its shapes and incarnations is a crime
against humanity, I strive to do my small part, as someone who once was
a part of the apparatus of destruction, to work for the elimination of
the causes of war.
- As a peace activist and Veteran For Peace, S. Brian Willson,
who has sacrificed much for peace, puts it, "We are not worth more,
They are not worth less." Yet, we are asked by the super patriots
who would force upon us their definition of what it means to be a veteran,
to accept the mass bombing of Iraqi civilians, the collateral damage, as
a consequence of launching hundreds of cruise missiles. War is as an unacceptable
method of carrying out foreign policy.
- After September 11, 2001, we rightly left no piece of
rubble unturned in our attempt at bringing closure to the families who
lost loved ones. Ten years prior, as Iraqi forces were retreating in the
rout known as the Gulf War, we killed tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers
as they retreated in a video game "war." Afterwards, as historian
and professor Howard Zinn put it, U.S. military machinery (tanks with plows)
buried the bodies en masse. Where was the closure for the next of kin as
the tanks made a second sweep through the desert covering over the protruding
legs and arms of the dead? As the peace demonstrators are apt to chant,
"The whole world is watching." It is. And then, we wonder why
growing numbers of the world's people "don't like us?"
- Those of us, Veterans For Peace who are opposed to war
as being an instrument of foreign policy are no less patriotic than those
who wave the flag and support war anytime and anyplace that their self-righteous
leaders call for it. I'm going to suggest that those veterans who oppose
this war are heroes in the greatest of American traditions and values.
They are the ones who recognize that as signatories of the U.N. charter
any U.S. pre-emptive military strike against another nation is illegal.
It is a dangerous precedent-setting development for which there will be
enormous blowback consequences.
- After September 11, Mr. George W. Bush claimed that the
U.S. had been transformed, having entered into a relentless war, perhaps
a war that will not end in our lifetime. I believe it is the duty of every
citizen, and especially every veteran, to question Mr. Bush at this time
of perpetual war.
- David Krieger, in a piece entitled, "Opposing the
President's Call for 'Relentless War' ", writes,
- If it was transformed in this way, it is because this
is the direction in which Bush and his advisors transformed it. Becoming
a country at war meant to the Bush administration an opportunity to expand
US military forces while constricting civil liberties for ordinary Americans.
Starting with his candidacy, Bush has pressed for increasing funding for
the military. The September 11 attacks, along with a frightened and compliant
Congress and American public, provided the opportunity to do so.
- As a veteran, and a Veteran For Peace, I oppose perpetual
war. Kreiger further writes,
- This will be a long war, Mr. Bush tells the American
people, and unprecedented challenges await us. It will be a long war because
we are failing to take necessary steps to achieve peace. It will be a long
war because we are led by an administration that has no vision of peace
or of a better world for others. It has no vision and few resources for
alleviating poverty, or for building schools instead of tanks. It has no
vision of preserving the environment and natural resources for future generations
because it is intently focused on goals that merely serve corporate interests.
It has no vision of halting arms sales, an area where the US remains indisputably
number one in the world. Nor does it have a vision of bringing nuclear
and other weapons of mass destruction under control. We are an empire and
empires require double standards. Thus, this will be a long war.
- I, as a veteran, and a Veteran For Peace, see it a duty
of citizenship to call attention to this administration's erosion and circumvention
of the rights and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution through its
perpetual war quest for oil. And, I refuse to allow others to define for
me my veteran status. I am a veteran! How dare you! Wage Peace!
- © 2003 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD
- From Alfred Lehmberg
- Well said, Good Doctor! Bravo Prima! I'm a veteran
of Viet Nam, the last Gulf war, and a -very- highly decorated retired military
aviator who stands -proudly- WITH you... even as we disagree on a few points!
I, too, look askance at an *appointed* commander-in-chief who likely abused
dangerous drugs, arrogantly dodged a urinalysis test that would have confirmed
same, and did so while showing patent CONTEMPT for a collection of armed
services, from which, he now (ironically!) demands -so- much!
- ...As to why they would "DARE"?
- They DARE because they are greedy sociopaths who won't
be called upon to do any of the fighting! They DARE because they are without
enlightened sentience, common sensibility, or -any- sensitivity! They
DARE because their drive for unrealistic and unethical profit has obscured
an awareness for the future consequences of their selfish actions (to the
masses), even as -they- believe they are insulated from them! They DARE
because they -understand- (only too well) that they track a short-sighted
course to cultural perdition, social disparity, and society suicide! They
DARE because they are the *front-line* ENEMY of our right to free expression
and lawful dissent! They DARE because they know their time is running
out and so are furious in their doomed attempt to maintain their questionable
positions of (purloined!) power and authority! They DARE because they
have no other choice but certain failure, crippling censure, and justifiable
impeachment... they DARE because they wish to preclude their eventual
extinction as a class! They DARE because they -think- they can get away
with it! They have another *think* coming, don't they, Doctor!
- I'm proud, Dr. Boniakowski, to stand, with you, stolidly
(and even stridently!) in their (non-creative and authoritarian) way, if
it will help ensure that the hapless America I thought -I- was defending
in combat re-emerges from the webs of tyranny threatening to corrupt it
since before the day Kennedy was assassinated! Thanks for speaking up,
sir! I join -my- small voice with yours!
- Lehmberg@snowhill.com www.alienview.net