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I appreciated Kathy Dye's article, "3 Vets' Views on War," appearing in Sunday's paper. The personal accounts of Juneau war veterans Mr. Anderson, Mr. Wahto and Mr. Armstrong were engaging and I deeply respect their collective heroism, brotherhood and the "stark raving terror" they survived. My grandfather enlisted in the Canadian infantry in 1914 and fought in almost every major battle between 1914-17. He was wounded trying to shove two men down a hole, blown from the trench to the parapet and left to die. He suffered 38 wounds to his body; and is a decorated and much-remembered war hero in Canadian history.
However, war remains to be a masculine reflex, a ritual of "non-creative" bloodshed which only enables successive generations of "numbed" fathers and grandfathers, husbands, brothers and sons. Relationships are broken. The world and the body suffer enormous damage and destruction. Freedoms are surrendered or taken - never to be returned. Ultimately, we dupe families into profound and unsalvageable sacrifice. My own family speaks from experience. There is another way.
My issue with Sunday's article is this: I do not accept that "cowards" represent the anti-war movement. This is ridiculous. Bravery is not solely exercised on battlefields; nor is war an exclusive public record of courage and power. The environmental movement, the peace and civil rights movements, the women's movement contain vast histories and examples of bravery, heroism, pure test and triumph of the human spirit and body. Interestingly, underlying each testimony in Dye's article was the accusation that the American public is responsible for failed war efforts in Vietnam, for example or presently. War fails because bloodshed does not heal or bring peace to lands; and because there are great numbers of people who do not support aggression as a means for peace. What kind of leadership is ours when President Bush has rejected every offer from the Taliban to negotiate? Is it not also cowardly to eradicate your enemy without ever knowing or seeing him?
Finally, Mr. Wahto's observation that U.S. ground soldiers are "a different breed" is very true. These "highly trained warriors" also require constant justification and exercise which only postpones peace. Instead of the U.S. pouring billions into guerrilla universities or aviation schools or developing missiles that pass hands like candy, what if the U.S. government paid their outstanding U.N. debt and contributed to establishing schools, good health, free enterprise and equal rights and freedoms for all members of society and our world community? Let's leave the Bush administration behind and save our planet and country from ultimate ruin and sacrifice.