Thursday, November 19, 2009

The fabric of lies

The Fabric of Lies
As I watch our march deeper and deeper into Afghanistan, I frequently am drawn back to my early days, now over 40 years ago, as a 23 year old draftee in the US Army. The scene: we are in a morning formation in front of company headquarters. We have our weapons. We all dressed in fatigues with a special white patch on our shirts which boldly shows our unit A-2-1. The white patches were part of a program to keep us away from other recruits. It seemed we had a meningitis problem.

Newly married, but drafted none-the-less. I had been a deputy probation officer in Oakland, California. I had a desk job, was fairly chubby and definitely un-athletic. I was not having a good time.

The morning gathering was sometimes like a pep rally. We would shout our company saying: “WETSU!!” This is not a Chinese saying. It means : We Eat This Shit Up!” Depending on what the commanding officer said, we would all shout “WETSU”. Think Bonzai!! And you get the picture.

The commanding officer came out on the steps and announced: “We have just declared war on China. They have come across the border in Vietnam and we are at war.” Of course, he was being dramatic and making the point that this could happen. But for a moment, I totally believed him. It wasn’t hard to imagine that this would happen and that the war would be bigger and worse.

In those days, I heard people regularly say something along the lines of: “I’d rather fight them in Vietnam than the streets of San Francisco.” These were the same people that believed the war was started by the Vietnamese because their patrol boats had attacked our 7th Fleet.

I think I may have been one of those people. When I heard our fleet had been attacked, I was another person. I believed pretty much everything the government said. Does that sound naïve? Well that was me. I believed it, if it came from the government. Suffice it to say, that after only 2 years in the Army, I came out much improved. I now believe only a portion of what our government says.