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This is the first line of the title track to Neil Young's "Living with war" album of the same name. It describes in five words the unfortunate circumstance I and many of my fellow veterans find ourselves in. Having "seen the elephant" and realized the terrible consequences of war, for the last ten years we have seen the obscenity of violence grip this nation and send it into "the patriotic fever" that blinded us to the costs of war.

Added and abetted by the media whores who wish to be bathed in its reflected glow, the nation ignored those who took to the streets in opposition. Ignored the lessons of history. Ignored the lies perpetrated by the Bush administration. Ignored the international community. Ignored the truth. It was glorious!

It was glorious to see the tanks, helicopters, attack airplanes and loaded for bear soldiers and Marines overwhelming our "enemies". Shock and awe baby!

It was glorious when Jessica Lynch fought off those Iraqis single handed. It was glorious when she was rescued. It was glorious when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled. We were told it was glorious and the nation cheered on.

"There's many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell."
General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1880

And it is all hell living with war. The sights, sounds and smells return. The dreams that had been suppressed resurface in their technicolor madness. You know exactly how the concussion of the bomb feels like. You hear "ma deuce" firing and the brass it ejects strike the ground. You smell the gunpowder. You smell death, again.

And now they say its over. It is not. It will always be there for those who were touched by this criminal act whether they be military or civilian. I think Hugh C. Thompson, the hero of My Lai said it best;

"I wish I was a big enough man to say I
 forgive them, but I swear to God, I can't."

I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart every day
I'm living with war right now

I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart every day
I'm living with war right now

And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man
And on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again
And when the night falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)

I join the multitudes
I raise my hand in peace
I never bow to the laws of the thought police
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again

I'm living with war in my heart
I'm living with war in my heart in my mind
I'm living with war right now

Don't take no tidal wave
Don't take no mass grave
Don't take no smokin' gun
To show how the west was won
But when the curtain falls, I pray for peace
Try to remember peace (visualize)

In the crowded streets
In the big hotels
In the mosques and the doors of the old museum
I take a holy vow
To never kill again
Try to remember peace

The rocket's red glare
Bombs bursting in air
Give proof through the night,
That our flag is still there

I'm living with war everyday
I'm living with war in my heart every day
I'm living with war right now

Repentant ex member of Murder Inc.
Southeast Asia Division

Originally posted to Bend Over Here It Comes Again on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:16 AM PST.

Also republished by Protest Music, DKos Military Veterans, Military Community Members of Daily Kos, and DKOMA.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Love Steve Earle (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hazey, mookins, BOHICA, Mnemosyne

      I was lucky to see him play in DC.  Joan Baez sang one of his songs, too.  He's also a big advocate against the goverment assisted murder against the poor and insane aka the death penalty.

      I read somewhere this week, (paraphrase)

      Great armies bring
      Great armies of grief
      great armies of mourning
      great armies of theft and greed

      "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

      by Damnit Janet on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:37:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The "Last Vehicle Out of Iraq" (16+ / 0-)

    In diary down thread from yours.

    Not the exclamation point photo of ours, but it may be one that speaks for these younger brothers and sisters of one of the quagmires of today and into the ranks of 'military war veterans' which once again most will be ignored by the population!

    CCR:"If you're a torturer, be careful in your travel plans. It's a slow process for accountability, but we keep going."

    by jimstaro on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:35:11 AM PST

  •  We may leave the war (13+ / 0-)

    But the war never leaves us.

    A multi-media project featuring poems from my manuscript "So I Was a Flag". We may leave the war, but the war never leaves us.

    All music composed and recorded by Gerardo Mena
    All footage recorded by Gerardo Mena
    All poems written by Gerardo Mena

    Gerardo Mena

    "Nonviolent in the face of police brutality." Scott Olsen's email signature

    by BOHICA on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 06:35:29 AM PST

  •  I am so sorry for all the families left grieving (10+ / 0-)

    and all those left healing.  And, I do so hope they do heal, but I'm not niave.  Who could ever be the same as they would have been had they lived their lives in another way over? Tragically, some will not be able to live with how their lives were affected by this Bush' Abomination.

    I still can't believe we went in.  I thought all of us in the streets yelling NO! might work.  But, the last decade laid bare that all our voices screaming to high heaven don't matter one whit against the low voices of the plutocrats in the back offices and hallways of power.

    I really can't imagine how many soldiers now feel if they went in really believing they were somehow "defending our freedoms," and have come to the realization that it was all either grotesque ignorance or and/ or an act of evil based on greed.

    Best wishes to you on this bitter sweet event.  


    Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

    by bkamr on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 07:02:33 AM PST

  •  Take heed for I am weary, ancient (7+ / 0-)

    "Nonviolent in the face of police brutality." Scott Olsen's email signature

    by BOHICA on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:02:46 AM PST

  •  Time to practice my religion (a dog's smile) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, Damnit Janet, jm214, Mnemosyne

    And walk the dog

    "Nonviolent in the face of police brutality." Scott Olsen's email signature

    by BOHICA on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 08:31:43 AM PST

  •  I don't think war ever really ends (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    porchdog1961, BOHICA, ybruti, Margd, Mnemosyne

    for starters, it never accomplishes anything.  If war truly solved problems, we wouldn't have so many wars.

    The tools and goals of war are just far too profitable to every really end.  The 1% make a living off of killing.  War makes the 99% easier to control through lies and fear.  

    And for thouse who fought the wars, we all know it never ends for them.   My dad went to Viet Nam but he never really came back.  Through you I read about the horrors he saw on the flight deck.  The men screaming for their moms as they were hauled off to the safety of the carriers.  

    I finally had to let him go after 30 odd years of reaching out to him.  I survived his abuse but could not allow him to verbally abuse my children.  I had to end the chain.  I saw him again at my mom's funeral.  I tried to reunite with him.  Showed him the photos of my children protesting.  You and I outside of Wyden's office.  Our live here in Oregon.  He even moved nearby, but eventually the war takes him back.  He never really came back and I don't think he ever will.  

    I don't know if it's the memories, the PTSD, the hearing loss  he suffered, the horrible back and neck problems which have resulted in numerous botched surgeries, the even more numerous drugs that he takes to kill the war in his soul.  

    It makes me a bit perturbed when people say, "you march for me, I'm right there with you in spirit."  No.  I only march for myself and children.  But I've found that no matter where I go or am doing that I tend to be gravitated to Veterans for Peace, or I run into a veteran.  I think that is because although my father again ran away, I march for him as well.  

    Last night we went to see Mannheim Steamroller as Wayne won tickets at work this week.  It was odd not protesting outside the Schnitzer for once.  I was attending not infiltrating.  During one of the songs, they played a film behind the orhcestra. It was of a bride and soldier.  Running through the woods, laughing and starting their life together.  Her wedding gift to him was a pair of drumsticks.  She's in bed having a baby, he's off at war, trying to light a cigarette with shaking hands.  Explosions.  A baby.  Then a wagon bringing home only a drum.  Later the young son is given the drum as a christmas gift. ... big cheers...

    This nation not only glorifies war, it romanticizes it.  Each generation gets to go to war.  What did you learn in school today?  Seeger song.  

    Our kids are learning that this country would rather have them killed in a war or beaten and pepper sprayed by the riot"cops" than teach them a proper education, than feed them nutritious food, shelter them in warm, affordable housing where they can grow up with their dreams intact.  In a land where their parents can work and earn a sustainable income and be able to afford things like braces, good clothing and save for the future.

    I had a man come through my line at work a few months back and he was angry.  I asked him what was wrong and he said, "I come back from Iraq to find my kid's school was closed down."  

    Our country is sick.  Sick from the disease called war.  War doesn't just scar the soldiers, it changes our children as well.  It steals from them.  But our children are the lucky ones.  The children of Iraq and Afghanistan... they should haunt us all forever.  "What did you do once you knew?"

    This war is not over.  Like all wars, it should never have began.  


    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

    by Damnit Janet on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:06:29 AM PST

  •  Thoughts of all the John Doe and Jane Doe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    troops and their families are with me every day. When we would receive calls from charities or salespeople, my reply was always "right now we only donate to veterans' causes because our country is at war. Please take us off of your list." Mostly received momentary silence, because they didn't have a come-back for that in their scripts.

    (Technically, in addition to veterans/troops organizations, we donate to food banks, but I am sure they help feed veterans and their families.)

    So now the Iraq war is over. I'll have to come up with a new way to answer requests for donations/product purchases...

    People with hatred in their hearts never live up to their full potential. It's very sad.

    by Nelsons on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:41:03 AM PST

  •  BO, maybe it's time for a new name for "it." "War" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, Mnemosyne

    hides so many sins and so much bullshit and warpage and dead-end, RHIP ridiculosity.

    The village idiots think "war" is what they do when they are pulling their joysticks to the theme from "Call of Duty." Or what they imagine our grim warriors do out there in the "field of honor." When it is really this enormous, wasteful, ultimate-comsumption just-business any more, this Milo Minderbinder Enterprise, "and everybody has a share" except for anyone who's not 0-5 or E-8 and up, or one of our host of politicians or contractors or consultants who populate the REAL post-national gamespace, and are eating a third of all the planet's real wealth because we, the rest of us, are too fucking stupid to realize how our little tribal instincts and fantasies are being played as a way of getting us to give over our wealth, our futures, our children, the very meaning of our lives, to a bunch of motherfucking (meant very precisely) shitwipes who strut and sneak and snigger at the stupidity and docility and even, God help us, the ENTHUSIASM we humans have for a Racket, as ol' Smedley so aptly named it, where the reality is at such enormous odds with the notional, "patriotic" overlay that it's amazing that more of us are not simply paralyzed into catatonia by the sheer distress of that galactic-scale cognitive dissonance.

    You've picked out an acronym that covers a lot of territory -- how about auctioning "naming rights" (a concept that itself is bankrupt) to the Curious Thingie, or awarding the prize to whoever comes up with the most evocative re-name?

    And Now The War In Iraq Is Over, and maybe the last serviceperson has died in immediate hostilities. The MSM is framing it all nice and "closure"-neatly for the dumbshits who troop and fund the fucking racket. And now it's on to the opening of another seal on the Great Book, and the release of whatever fucking bullshit is in the minds of the Networked Battlespace Managers and their buddies in the industries that will profit from WAR ON IRAN! in the next quarter.

    Maybe it's time for the fucking species to work out the destiny the Security Providers have been inching and now shoving us into: the Age of the Terminator, complete with all kinds of Really Neat Autonomous Killing Devices, with one goal of the MICmechs being the creation of ranks of not only autonomous, but self-repairing, and eventually self-replicating, "battle robots." The first actual "combat" deployment of which resulted the "device" shooting up some actual US GI troops. It's not even sensible to ask "WTF" anymore -- the appropriate acronym is "WAF," as in We Are Fucked.

    Unless the leaning-on-it of the Occupy wisdom shuts off what looks to me, having read "Catch-22" too many times, to be the inevitable endpoint.

    Bless you and yours in this season that is supposed to be about love and renewal and instead is about the other part of the consumer culture, the "gifting" of endless loads of mostly plastic, slave-made, useless crap. Interesting: patrolling in Helmand involves, from the video evidence, a lot of "doorbusting." And how many of the Xmas sales come-ons assure the idiot American that (s)he will be successfully "doorbusting" at the Motor Mall? More successful at that than "victorious in battle..."

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 10:01:14 AM PST

  •  all I can do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at this point is send good thoughts and {{{hugs}}}.

    We are, as has been pointed out here, being told that it's All Over, that everything is tickety-boo, almost as if we were now through The War To End All Wars.

    We have Made the World Safe for Democracy.

    Alas, this violent country and its violence-enabling congress will do their best to sweep it all under a giant rug. But it will be dragged out and held up as bright, shining example when the next violent episode comes along. Or when the military-industrial complex ponies up for the next round of favors and preferences, whichever comes first.

    I can't even bear to hear helicopters going by close overhead, and I never got any closer to that time in Southeast Asia than the 6 o'clock news. For you, I cannot imagine . . .

    On top of it all, Vaclav Havel has died.


    The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it is difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine. -- Abraham Lincoln

    by Mnemosyne on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 01:26:14 PM PST

  •  Peace brother (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and love.

    Please join the Protest Music Group where we sing truth to power.

    by hairylarry on Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 07:31:19 PM PST

  •  a very strong and powerful diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Thanks BOHICA.   The pain is so evident in the poem.

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 06:18:00 AM PST

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