From Vietnam Veterans Against the War,

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By Harold Pettus

One thing members of VVAW know is that it isn't easy being in the vanguard. Thousands of years of war have firmly established a tradition of accepting military assignment as proof in itself that the battle is righteous and warranted. We don't kid ourselves that convincing our citizenry that we have entered an era where this assumption is no longer appropriate can be easy.

I won't reiterate the familiar list of conflicts that have tainted our recent history. The wars against people who posed us no threat, fought in ways that defied victory, mostly destroyed the lives of innocents, and accomplished nothing. You know them.

By their measure we can know that we must not do this again. Nothing on the table in Iran, Syria, etc. is new or different. Nor can new wars here accomplish anything new or different. Just another heinous body count. But here is the thing that makes it so not easy.

Our brothers in arms, active and retired, have been accepting their lives of cannon fodder as an act of heroism for so very long that it is beyond possible for many of them to accept that it was all wrong and all for nothing. That they were maimed, their minds pushed beyond endurance, and their comrades ripped apart in horrible deaths to serve only a prideful donation to the military/industrial complex is a blasphemy some simply cannot bear or even acknowledge. We understand this.

The burden of the VVAW is to mourn this mortal wound and proceed with the business of healing the future. The massive killing of peasants for the glory of the royal court has gone on long enough. It is the twenty-first century and high time we grew beyond medieval concept of honor and glory as measured by suffering, carnage, and death.

It's all settled. The armies of the world have absolutely proved that we can slay millions of people and fix nothing. Hell, we can depopulate the planet and fix even less. Enough. Now that our technology has brought us to a place where so very much of what we do is of such great consequence, we can no longer ignore the reality that we are, in so very many vital ways, one world. In this time of extinction scenarios, it is time to find another way to solve our differences.

We were not heroes nor were we villains. We own neither pride nor shame. We were duped and our honor is best redeemed by never allowing that to happen again. It is the twenty-first century and time to end international relations through slaughter. The human brain has housed a mind capable of accomplishing all of our needs without killing each other for at least a quarter of a million years by the most conservative estimates. It's about time we stopped imitating the savage beasts that preceded us and got around to using it.

Harold Pettus served in the Navy Hospital Corps from 1960 to 1964 and completed his service as an E-4.

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