Nothing old, nothing new, nothing borrowed

It’s interesting, throughout some of my post this far I have been praising the ability of soldier to blog on the internet. The evidence I have given includes some of the following: it is a faster mode of communication between soldiers and their loved ones back home and it is preferable to the old form of communication of letters which took weeks and weeks to arrive at their destination.  Also that it is a potential mode of moral boosting when strangers read about the soldiers experiences and praise them for their courage. However there are some soldiers who are not as enamored with this technological advancement.

“Blogging is no longer worth the trouble. Everything is fine as long as the stories are happy and positive. The military wants happy stories, not honest stories. Everything must be 100% in concert with the Army spin. If it’s not, you’re considered an “embarrassment” to the Army, the installation, and/or the NCO Corps. Integrity is no longer an accepted method of leadership. If I can’t be honest and open, I won’t write at all. I refuse to allow my private blog’s message to be dictated with threats and intimidation. It’s been a fun six years!
-CJ”

CJ is a soldier who orginally posted his thoughts on A Soldier’s Perspective website and then was reposted to the Milblogging site. It appears with his experiences of trying to post the truth through his blogs have been thwarted by military officials. He refuses to do what they demand of him. He refuses to be bright and shiny about his time in the army. The same situation occurred years ago during World War II just in reverse.

As documented in the book “Since you Went Away” the main theme throughout all the letters was a positive attitude. Do not talk about the war when writing to the loved ones who are off fighting. Keep their minds thinking about everyday mundane aspects of life. And vice versa (do not tell those at home about all the atrocitous of war). This way of thinking should have gone away when the military became slightly more open minded about the mental health of their soldiers. However it was a theory proven wrong. CJ proved that soliders now are just as limited in the content they are allowed to illuminate on as they were sixty years ago even with communication advances.

“Since You Went Away: World War II Letters From American Women on the Home Front” edited by Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith.

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–> <!– –>Long-Standing Military Blog “A Soldier’s Perspective” Shuts DownMonday, November 9, 2009,

 

 

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Published in: on November 20, 2009 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Cost of War

War can sometimes be glamorized and presented to the general public as a noble thing to do. They have no reason to assume that what their loved ones are off doing is wrong in anyway. They of course know the danger involved but the rewards, they believe, tremendously out weigh the risk. That is however until those who have a loved one off in the war receive that terrifying telegram or heart wrenching knock at the door.

This may be backtracking in our class readings a bit but, in Vera Brittain’s memior recounting her experiences during the first World War we see a prime example of this. Before Roland was killed in action Vera supported the war and even became a nurse to help heal those soldiers who had become wounded. She remained this way until she recieved the devastaing news that her fiancee, Roland, was killed. After that she became pessamisitc. His death made her question every single aspect of life of which she previously loved. Eventually Vera became anti-war which was a direct cause from the war and Roland’s death.

This same mentality can be seen in the civilians during today’s world as evident in the online opinion section of the Los Angeles Times

“I thought I knew the cost of combat. I recommended plans to spend billions of dollars in Afghanistan from my desk at the White House Office of Management and Budget. But it was not until last month, as I stood on the tarmac at Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport in Connecticut watching my friend’s flag-draped coffin come home, that I truly understood the price of war…Watching my former roommate unloaded from a plane in a silver container brought an indescribable pain.”

The system is always the same, even for those people who are intracitly connected to the war, such as the man above who worked in the White House. They all assume they understand what war will cost them but never truly will until someone they care for deeply comes home in a coffin, dying for a cause that might never be realized.

Vera Brittain: Testament of Youth

David S. Abraham: On Veterans Day Feeling the Cost of War: Afghanistan was Abstract, Until my Friends Flaged-Draped coffin Came Home, The Los Angeles Times, Opinion, Novemeber 11, 2009


Published in: on November 11, 2009 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Letter Writing Versus Internet

Earlier in class we had a discussion about whether writing letters was a more more personal form of communication between soldiers fighting in World War II and their families back in the states. During this discussion we focused mainly on communication between soldiers and their loved ones back home and how the letters affected the realtionship between those two parties.

“Dear Douglas:…Dad could not start the car this morning…so after two busses passed us…we managed to get to work. My shop is so cold that I have to put on a furlined overcoat…I do hope your Christmas box reached you by Christmas Day…As yet we have bought no tree but hope to get a smaller one…Love from Mother” (“Since You Went Away” pg. 184)

The two can communicate with each other and be cheerful, talk about things that have nothing to do with the war and to provide a form of escapism. The war effort wanted those civilans at home to be happy and positive for their loved ones, they must try not to show depression. However that cannot always occur.

“Dear Bob: Your two letters reached me to day and I can’t tell how glad I was to hear from you. I was terribly worried and have had another sick fit…How many days were you at sea?…I will write again on Sunday. I only hope and trust you are a good boy…Be sure and write often, Love, Mother.” (“Since You Went Away” pg. 21)

This mother was terrified when no word came from her son over quite some time. She appeared to have no one to speak to about this other than her son and her family members at home who might not have to same emotions concerning the situation. This is where the technological advances of the present day, including the invention of the internet, can help these people find others in the same situation. They can help each other through difficult times, gain support for their soldier loved ones and just have someone who they can talk to about a situation they know everything about.

The United States Marine Corps have such a website for Marine Corps Moms.

“Welcome to our USMC family website, We support our Marines, their families, and those who love them by linking sources of support and information with collaboration with other public, private, and military groups, and individuals.”

Here moms (and other family members) can locate one another easily and from across the country, support one another, gain support for their family members through awarness and be there for one another in times of need.

Though the art of letter writing may be more romantic and in truth writing soldiers today may still be effective (though personally I believe email is much more practical), the use of the internet is extermely benefical for those who have to remain at home and deal with whatever comes their way.

“Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front”

Marine Corps Mom

Published in: on November 4, 2009 at 4:17 am  Comments (2)  

Overcompensation? Trying to Right Past Wrongs.

The United States officially sends soldiers into situations only when they are needed and remain in the country for as long as their help is needed and no more. However there have been times when there are not enough soldiers or too many or they are in countries where they are not wanted. That is how the role of the soldiers operate in reality. The question is why? Are we trying to compensate for a past wrong we help (unknowingly) commit?

During World War II the greatest atrocity against human kind was committed.  Millions of people were senselessly murdered because Hitler rose to power virtually uncontested. The United States, during the 1940s, was trying to remain isolationist in their practice of world powers. Therefore when a war ensued against this cruel leader the United States did not want to assist the Allies in the actual fighting of the war. Though we eventually did enter in the war and helped win it, there was still a situation we did not foresee or stop, the Holocaust. The ramifications of the neglect (not only of the U.S. but also other countries) are evident in Alfred Hitchcock’s documentary on concentration camp liberation. The mountains of bodies and nameless faces will haunt the soldiers, world leaders and civilians for the rest of time because it was our worlds biggest mistake.

The United States neglected to enter and fight for those who needed their help once, they did not want to do that again. The persistent appearance of our soldiers over in countries such as Afghanistan is unwelcome though our leaders do not want to leave until they know the people are safe. It appears to be an overcompensation. However some civilians involved are feeling they are no longer needed and take a stand.

“Matthew Hoh…after seeing how the war has played out, he turned in a letter of resignation from his position…what really caused him to resign is “why and to what end” the U.S. continues its war effort in Afghanistan.

Since the new administration has taken over the White House, the number of troops in Afghanistan has increased. Hoh observes that many of the insurgents are fighting against U.S. presence in Afghanistan, and the continued troop presence only furthers this problem. He calls the problem in Afghanistan essentially a distant civil war that the U.S. needs not interfere with….He went on to say that from the point of view of local peoples, insurgency against the occupying NATO and U.S. forces is justified. Afghanistan should be left to figure out its own future.”

This one time Captain with involvement in the Pentagon and State Department knows the U.S. once had a purpose to be in Afghanistan but are no longer needed. They are only irritating the people and causing more problems then solving.

The United State appears to be overcompensating for past failures, but what our leaders need to realize is they cannot right past wrongs but learn from them and ensure nothing of that nature occurs again.

U.S. Official Turns in Resignation Over War in Afghanistan

October 27th, Utah County Libertarian Examiner, Devin Rees.

Alfred Hitchcock Holocaust Documentary

Published in: on October 28, 2009 at 1:23 am  Comments (4)  

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Published in: on October 27, 2009 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Leaving a Legacy

One of the most important aspects of war is that when it is all done, when the fighting is over, later generations will know what excatly occurred during the time of conflict. It is critical that the children of civilians of war who were directly affected by the war, such as the survivors of the Holocaust, or the children of soldiers or even just other people know excatly what happened to these people. Most of those who write down their experiences do it so that if they do not survive their families can know what happened to them. Other times it is just so that later generations can know the precise conditions of the time.

Through Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel “Maus I: My Father Bleeds History” we are shown the story of Art’s father Vladek expereince with World War II. We know excatly what happened to him because his son wrote it all down.

“I still want to draw that book about you…the one I used to talk about…about your life in Poland and the war.” “It would take many books, my life and no one wants anyway to hear such stories.”

Vladek then goes on to talk about what he had to go through from the beginning of the war all the way through is deportation to Auschweitz.  Anyone who reads this story knows excatly the lengths he went to when he and his wife were being relocated time after time, how he risked his life to get some food, how they hid in barns and in bunkers in coal bins or attics just to avoid the Gestapo as much as possible. People would never know the lengths people have to go through had this story not been written.

“Carlene says her son believed in what he was doing. He was “always reaching out to the people and the children,” of Afghanistan. She says he constantly volunteered for any humanitarian missions, and he would often try to connect with the children during his time overseas.”

One soldier who fought in Afghanistan wrote many journals during his time fighting. His mother kept them and then sent some to media stations such as  CBS so his story and experience could be known.

“Coming into Afghanistan again after just finishing a year long tour 6 months ago isn’t the best feeling in the world. But this is the life I expected when I re-enlisted active duty. BAF is still the same every branch of the military there getting the exact same hazard duty and hostile fire pay as the soldiers out in the s— getting shot at daily, somehow thinking there in danger. Over the years I’ve come to accept everyone has there job, but I can’t help but have animosity towards any American fighting age male in shape that doesn’t have the balls to do a job that doesn’t involve working in a building sleeping in a warm bed their whole tour. So I’m not going to the Korengal valley witch is somewhat dissapointing but at the same time a relief.”

Soldiers and survivors need their stories to be heard and understood so people will know what has occurred in the past and maybe avoid such instances in the future.

Maus I: My Father Bleeds History.

http://www.milblogging.com/index.php?entry=entry091005-193035

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–> <!– –>CBS News Publishes Cpl. Jason Bogar’s Journal Entries, Last Letter to His Family Before Being Killed in Afghanistan in July 2008

Milblogging.com

Published in: on October 15, 2009 at 1:04 am  Comments (3)  

War Changes

War changes people. Depending on the brutality and violence of the battles those changes could be extremely drastic for the soldier who had to fight. Those changes could be in personality or opinion and they could be extremely dramatic. These can be seen in all wars over time, every war has the same effect on the soldiers who had to fight: change.

As evident in Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth Roland’s personality changed based on his experience fighting one of Europe’s most brutal and bloody wars. When he first went of to battle he was romantic in his letters to his love, Vera. He was writing beautiful words to her at one point and being almost optimist about his surroundings. However, once he had been a soldier and fighting for some time, it is observed not only in his way of dressing and presentation but also his mannerisms that he has changed. He had seen and experienced so much out in the battle field that it changed most of his personality aspects. It was also his lost of innocence and naivety through those experiences he changed. This changing could also be witnessed in present day wars.

Through a military blog entitled “AWAC” or “Afghanistan Without a Clue,” we can see a change of opinion in a soldier. In this soldier’s first blog posted August 15th, 2006 he stated:

“1.  My training would be one month instead of two.

2.  I wasn’t going to Iraq.

3.  The weather would be cooler in Kabul than Iraq.

4-100. I wasn’t going to Iraq.

There, 100 reasons why I am a very lucky guy.”

Yes the soldier was not extremely excited about going to Afghanistan but he did volunteer for this and he knew that going to Afghanistan was better than fighting in Iraq. If he did have any strong opinions on the war he did not express them in his first blog.

In his latest blog posted September 21st, 2009 however there is a very different attitude towards the ongoing war.

“Unless we are willing to spend the next fifty years there truly rebuilding the country, we might as well leave now.  We have failed miserably in our attempts to rebuild the infrastructure of the country…If I were called back on active duty and sent there, I would not be pleased.  I no longer believe in this war.”

He now has an extreme opinion against the war after all he had seen and gone through.

As evident through this present day soldier and Vera Brittain’s novel, war changes a person in various and drastic ways.

Vera Brittain Testament of Youth

AWAC

Afghanistan Without a Clue

http://traversa.typepad.com/afghanistan_without_a_clu/

Published in: on October 7, 2009 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

War. Does it Matter at the End?

During war there is an extreme amount of death, carnage, psychological struggles and other various hardships which the soldiers must endure. Every person knows this even if they are a civilian. The question soldiers always ask themselves and which civilans should as well is does it matter in the end? Who will remember about the soldiers? People won’t. All they will remember are the titles of major battles and their dates. In the play “The Ghosts May Laugh” the character Jones voices this thought.

“…I meant remember the battle, what the men at Waterloo did for Europe. I doubt it, and it will be the same for us in a hundred years. No one will remember us, no one will care about what we did. Sure they remember Wellington, the date of the battle, and the like, but who remembers the junior officers, or the men? Who will care about all the men we have lost, gone, forever? No one. No one will care. It makes me angry to think of it.”

The men are surronded by such atrocitious they do not understand why they do what they are doing. Some of them believe it is duty, as Jenkins (another character) mentions earlier, but what does duty mean to the soldiers when they are dead, the war over and no one ever thinks of the individual people who fought the war?

I realize that this does not come from any article but I have had personal experience with a soldier who has this thought and find it important to  his belief. I have a friend I went to high school with who is now part the army. He has been to Iraq twice and we have had many discussions about why he does what he does. I never understood why he took his life into his hands and went to fight. He (I asked about using his name but he wished to remain anonymous) was so fervent in is belief that he was doing what was right. He has always been extremely patriotic and believed that since he was able to he should do what he can to defend the USA.  I remember the last time we talked after he came home from Iraq he was telling me about one of his experiences where he was in extreme danger. I yelled at him and asked him why this whole army thing was so important to him and why was he so intent on doing his “duty.” He simply said he wanted to make this world better for his son and his daughter.

He did not care that in thirty years no one would remember his name or that he would never be famous, he wanted his kids to be safe and proud of him. He was doing this for his family.

Jones was so upset that he was hurting his wife by going of to a fatal war and leaving his family. That is why he was angry no one would remember his name. My friend goes to war for his family, he does not care if he is not remembered by anyone else other than his family.

The reasons for fighting in war vary completely from person to person therefore if you believe in the reasons that drove you to war then yes. War  does matter even if no one remember you.

Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 12:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Technology and war, keeping families together.

When soldiers are overseas constantly fighting a battle in which they may very well die in, they always want to be in contact with their family members and loved ones back home. Not only to reassure them  they are safe and well at the time the communication was documented but also to give the soldiers a way to release their personal thoughts and experiences on the war. The soldiers need an outlet to vent or describe a particular important event they witnessed or simply an activity that may help them escape from thinking about their current predicament.

What has greatly helped communication between continents has been the technological advances, especially the development of the internet. While reading Vera Brittain’s memoir we see the only communication with her beloved Roland is through postal mail. This took days to get from the sender to the recipient. We are constantly reminded of how anxious Vera would get when she was waiting to hear from him. This anxiousness sprang from the need of wanting to simply know he was alive and well enough to write.  As we witnessed in the emotional scene where Vera learns of Roland’s death, it took the army 4 days to reach his family to let them know. All that time it was assumed Roland was well and on his way home, this false hope  made an already incredibly painful experience even more unbearable.

Fortunately in the present day we have the internet and the ability for soldiers to blog.  The site milblogging.com creates the opportunity for soldier in Afghanistan to post their thoughts and experience about the war they are fighting. It is also a way for there to be instant communication between soldiers and their family members. The family members are being updated frequently about their soldiers feelings and experiences.

“Believe it or not, military blogs really do help troops communicate with family, friends, and supporters.  When I first started blogging from Afghanistan in 2004, I immediately connected with dozens of supporters who are still friends to this day.  When you blog, you make amazing connections with readers.  Blogging also leads into support from new friends, like letters and care packages.  Really awesome stuff.”

One more important aspect of blogging to note, as shown in the above quote, is the moral being uplifted when strangers to the soldiers know encourage and thank them for what they are doing. It keeps the soldiers believing in the cause they are fighting for when their home country supports them. This is something not occurring in Vera’s time. The only support those soldiers received were from family members (which was incredible) and fellow soldiers. While this type of support is very good and could keep soldiers fighting, extra from strangers, seem to give a little push.

Technological advances in war time keep families strongly united and soldiers aware of the effect their duty is having on their home country.


Wisconsin Troops: A World Away, But Maybe A Little Bit Closer Than You Think with the Power of a Military Blog
Wednesday, September 9, 2009,
07:40 PM –
Afghanistan Military Bloggers

http://www.milblogging.com/index.php?entry=entry090909-194006

Published in: on September 23, 2009 at 1:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Family and War

People who do not have loved ones fighting in a war do not understand the toll it takes on those who are fearing for a family members life every single day. It is one aspect of war that is rarely ever discussed except in those instances when something happens to that military family member making it imperative to talk to their family.

“After three tours in a combat zone, Smith has seen it all. “I’m numb now,” he said. That’s exactly what his family worries so much about. “He’s on his third tour,” said his father Elijah Smith, 76. “I want him to get his ass out of there.”

This article found on NYDailyNews.com describes the feelings and fears of a family in Brooklyn, New York concerning their son Emeka Smith who is currently serving his third tour in Afghanistan. They are terrified of his life, not only physically but mentally as well. He has seen it all through his tours, he has been in the thick of the fighting and now he is use to all the chaos, pain and confusion that he no longer notices anything. That is not healthy for someone who is fighting a war. They need to be aware of what is happening and have some sort of human reaction to the situation occuirng in front of them. His father, quoted above, is terrified and even though it was noted that he is indeed anti-war, he still feels as if his son has done his patrotic duty to his country. The stress of worrying whether or not they are going to get a call or visit in the middle of the night telling them of their sons death is just as emotionally draining on his parents, though in a different way, as fighting on the front line.

“Ten minutes after reading it, I was dressed and staggering dizzily but frantically around the room for it (the letter) told me that he (Roland) had successfully negotiated a transfer to the 7th Worcestershire Regiment and was of to the front in ten days time.”

The same sort of panic that is occurring now with Emeka Smith’s family as well as others who have loved ones fighting a war, occurred back during the first world war as demonstrated by the above quote from Vera Brittain’s memoir. Before her beloved even went to the war, the news was so devastating for her to learn she was thrown of balance.  She went on to describe she was worried that she may never see him again and she did not know what to do.

The stress on families knowing their loved ones are off fighting a fatal war or even just hearing the news that their better halves are off to risk their lives is just one of the many effects of war on soldier’s families.

NYDailyNews.com, Anti-war Dad says it’s Time for Soldier Son to Leave Afghanistan, by Stephanie Gaskell

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2009/09/16/2009-09-16_family_loves_the_warrior_but_hates_the_war.html

Vera Brittain Testament of Youth, pg 128

Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 6:28 pm  Leave a Comment