Wolf Country Review — Every soldier part of my family, every grave yard ours…

7500 Boots Representing the Fallen if the Global War on Terrorism, or almost 18 years of slaughter-- Source: Task and Purpose, Fayetteville Observer. US Army PAO

Task and Purpose, another Veterans site from a more millennial but equally cynical, angry and sad point of view picked this up from the Fayetteville Observer, where reporter Rachel Riley caught a simple, emotionally stunning testament to what trying to turn the world to Jeffersonian Freedom and more opportunities for oil exploration and exploitation by International Oil has done to the United States.  

More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg this month served as a temporary memorial to service members from all branches who have died since 9/11. The boots — which had the service members’ photos and dates of death — were on display for Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s annual Run, Honor and Remember 5k on May 18 and for the 82nd Airborne Division’s run that kicked off All American Week. “It shows the families the service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten,” said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg’s Survivor Outreach Services…

This was the fourth year that Beth Grimshaw volunteered to help set up the display. One of the boots represented Dr. Mark Taylor, a lieutenant colonel who Grimshaw worked with at Womack Army Medical Center. He was a surgeon assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division Forward Surgical Team. Taylor was killed during a rocket attack on March 20, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq. “I’ve got some friends’ husbands who are out here,” said Grimshaw, who paused to reflect on May 17. “I’d like to see this out so they’re not forgotten.”

Heading into Memorial Day, Watson said the boots were on display to serve as a reflection of the sacrifices that all military branches have made.

“The true meaning of Memorial Day is not picnics and barbecues, though those are great things, the meaning is paying tribute,” she said.

Graves of the Unknowns at Gettysburg, 1942


Eric Bogle wrote of another disastrous if shorter waste of life, treasure and hope, Gallipoli.

“And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory
And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all”

Trump wants a parade, neither knowing nor caring that we do this most meaningfully not in recognition or glorification of an individual but in honor of our lost fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, who served, suffered and in many cases, died. The best reason to impeach Trump is to deny him to get his desired military funeral, procession, parade and display in the White House.

But, this is not the place to do than remind us of what could lie ahead. Rather, lets examine the realities. We have a fine accounting of the dead, the wounded, the disabled and some of those driven to the edge of sanity in the pursuit of something that ceased to make sense when the war spread to Iraq, and still makes no sense tonight. We don’t have a good count at all of the collateral damage in Iraq or Afghanistan; nor, for that matter, do we have any count of the families, the children, the parents, and the friends in this country whose lives were ruined or severely.

We can tabulate the veterans who find that they cannot stand to live any longer but we all know that is an approximation, at best. We can calculate the incidents of domestic violence and drug overdose and child abuse and sexual trauma caused by nightmares, but we have to admit there’s a lot of estimate in there. What we cannot calculate or measure with any accuracy at all is the loss of courage, wisdom, talent and generosity of spirit represented in not only those boots on the grass at Fort Bragg, but in those victims that we can only SWAG which, in NCO statistics means Silly Wild Ass Guess.

There are a wide variety of Eric Bogles this song. The Pogues, the Dubliners, the songwriter himself, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem…But 31 years ago a newly elected Senator, a disabled veteran, a Navy Seal who was a Medal of Honor recipient sang it at his victory rally. Bob Kerry might have been President, and served as both Democratic Governor of Nebraska, and Senior Senator before retiring from the Senate where he headed the New School of Social Research from 2000 to 2011.

I think Kerry was trying to echo something of Lincoln’s thought and approach a very simple but ultimately utterly complex issue…Why do we serve? Why should we serve? Making reference to the honored dead of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln attempted description of an answer, in a speech that most American school children memorized in middle school for decades until patriotism seemed to be jingoistic and they stopped. 
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Kerrey,  seems a realist with a strong sense of idealism and a devotion to duty, even when it is unpopular. I think that if Lincoln were to ask us again tonight, the best answer we have today would be, “Still working on it, Sir.” The only thing that will stop that work is if we decide that this nation isn’t worth the effort, or even more sadly, decide that we’ve achieved so much perfection that it doesn’t matter if the work of preservation ceases.

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