My time in-country, as they say, with the First Cav, embraced the Tet offensive in 1968 and a year's worth of immersion in a patently worthless, fruitless, feckless, foolish bit of wealth-transferring adventurism. And two years stateside, playing soldier. From what I hear and read, the uniforms have changed (many times, as the procurement machinery grinds away) but not the underlying day-to-day reality.
I enlisted in 1966, in part believing a lot of the crap that people still believe about the Grand Military Machine as a "bulwark against the enemy" (a category that morphs day-to-day as "doctrines" and corporate interests change), growing up as I did as a Cub and Boy Scout in the '50s and early '60s with the "Commies" always a milimicron away from sneaking under our beds and into our institutions and polluting our precious bodily fluids.
Far as I can see, from my aging perspective on my own and subsequent young males' (and now females, proving that stupidity and subjugation to certain base impulses is not limited to the Y-chromosome), the only honest voices who have weighed in over time, to try to dispel the testosterone-miasma "fog of war" are people like Smedley Butler and Joseph Heller and even Noam Chomsky, who see and try to describe the reality behind the morality play that the vast majority suspend their minuscule bit of disbelief to take in, day after year after decade: "War is a racket."
And the ongoing shitstorm in Iraq and Notagainistan, and at and around all the hundreds of "bases" our Networked Battlespace Commanders have erected across the planet, serves no interests, except those of the MIC and certain post-national corporations and their political puppets.
A few wise heads, generally with small voices unfortunately, argue that it is time, PAST time, to pull in our horns, redirect our energies, put our residual wealth and tiny pretexts of moral superiority to some better use -- by "getting out of [wherever] NOW.
This Vietnam vet seconds the motion.
The US military is a Godzilla gone to fat, a huge bloated grasping careerist-driven doctrinaire appendage of a broken political system and industrial monstrosity that is driving the nation and the world ever deeper into a giant black hole, a coruscation of Grand Strategies and ever-more-lethal technologies that have no meaning and no end except satisfaction of the greeds and ambitions and random thrashings of a very few self-selected humans. Want to educate yourself on how it really works? You might start with The War Department's own "Dictionary of Military and Related Terms," http://www.dtic.mil/... and pay attention to the provenance of this one among millions of War Department "initiatives," which has its own budgetary constituency of "commands" and hundreds of millions of dollars in real-wealth-converted-to-military-doctrinarianism. It's a cancer, and feeding it should be the last thing any of us not "serving their countries by killing Others and converting real wealth and true security into scrap metal, splattered corpses and dead-end games" should be wanting to do.
The joke, of course, is that the Machine has so much momentum and inertia that there's not a snowball's chance of halting it or even changing the course a little. "We kill some of their people so they kill some of our people so we kill some of their people so they kill some of our people...." in a wonderful irrational-number series. All while cramming billions of unaudited invisible dollars into the backs of SUVs and private jets, and "gaining support" for hugely wasteful and expensive "procurements" as, get this, "jobs programs." Bunch of BS. An enormous, Augean-stable-sized, daily-growing-as-a-geometric-rate pile of bullshit.
And this Memorial Day, be clear what you are actually doing when you "thank us for our service." Makes you all weepy just thinking about the phrase, right? You mostly have no tiny idea of the reality of the self-serving, self-indulgent, I would even say "traitorous" nature of the military leadership (go read Jon Krakauer's "Where Men Win Glory," the life and death of Pat Tillman, and Gary Schroen's "First In: How the CIA Spearheaded The War On Terror In Afghanistan" (sic) and all the other exposes out there about how the War Machine really works, before you lecture me on insufficient blind stupid gaping patriotism and disrepect for all those who have "served" the war machine god) or the huge amount of wasted motion and wealth, featherbedding, goofing off, bureaucratalifornication, play-acting and other assorted idiocies that you believe, you BELIEVE at least, constitute that institution that you have been suckered into "supporting" on the totally specious notion that it "protects your way of life." Your "way of life" is, in increasing measure, in fact dictated and warped by the military overlords, who every once in a while thanks to languid incompetence or whistleblower conscience let us get a glimpse of what they are really up to -- like using psyops staff to sucker and delude Congressmen, and "buying the loyalty" of "insurgents" with Viagra and flat monetary bribes to not shoot up those long-supply-line-over-the-Kyhber-Pass convoys before the weapons and $400-a-gallon-delivered-to-the-active-face-of-the-Networked-Battlespace gasoline and diesel. And waving a whisk and saying "piffle" to contractors electrocuting GIs in the showers, and the "unaccounted disappearance" of weapons and billions in cash. And forgetabout all the "wogs," from my war the "gooks, slants, slopes, dinks" and from this imperial adventure the "hajjis and sand n---ers and towelheads, etc." killed "by accident" or because "we" invade their homeland and destroy their "homeland security." All for the seriously reported, "regrettable-necessity" "best of reasons." That on dispassionate examination turnout to be pure, unadulterated, total, complete Bull. fucking. SHIT.
And when you've digest and gotten all dyspeptic about that bit of contrarian failure-to-swim-along-with-the-tsunami-wave-of-Current-Narrative, go take a look at this little page from the Walmart catalog, and ask yourselves "What the F_CK have we come to when our great Free Land Culture provides such nice packaging for the flags our Military so cynically hands over to the beloveds of GIs killed "serving their country:" http://www.walmart.com/... . Or, if you want to price-shop for your memento-holder, http://www.nextag.com/... By the way, I still have the now a little moth -eaten 48-star flag that draped the coffin of my uncle, a WW II "server." And my father skippered a 108-foot sub chaser in the South Pacific from 1943-45.
We've done gone and been suckered into engaging with Tar-Baby, and are in it, the Generals and Admirals, both self-aggrandizing would-be Emperors and the armchair versions, all hope, with both fists and both feet and apparently with a brain-addled head butt too.
It's been said so many times that apparently nobody believes it any more: "War is a racket." Per Maj. Gen. and 2-time Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Smedley Butler.
Oh, and when you are next in Walmart, check out the shirts and slacks, good stuff too, "Made in Vietnam." Tell me, all you yellow-ribbon "patriots," what THAT was all about again? Other than a trillion-dollar transfer of real wealth to the war toy makers? And some kind of sick, perverse, fraudulent "jobs program?"