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A War Profiteer

Added: Wednesday, April 9th 2008 at 12:28pm by robertflynn


One of my father’s souvenirs from his days in the trenches of World War One was a paragraph clipped from some publication. “Probably the heaviest casualties of any unit of the 360th Infantry was that of Company A. Twenty-six men of this outfit survived the half-hour’s fighting on the Meuse-Argonne sector November 2, the second day of the big push started by the 90th Division. Two hundred and ten men entered the fight.” That was my father’s company and he survived the fighting that continued until evening, and then the next day and the next until the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.


All my male cousins served during World War Two. One cousin’s husband received a posthumous Silver Star for heroism in Italy. I was too young to serve in World War Two but like other children I collected scrap metal and bought stamps that could become a War Bond. The country scorned hoarders, slackers, war-profiteers but I despised war-profiteers the most, the vultures that fattened on the dead and wounded. 


Although I had a deferment, I dropped out of college during the Korean War to enlist in the Marines but I didn’t go to Korea. With my low MOS, basic rifleman, I was too old to serve in Vietnam but I went for a short time as a civilian reporter.


On 9/11 my wife yelled at me to turn on the TV. When I did I saw a a tower of the WTC burning. I didn't believe “it must have been a horrible accident” or “There’s one terrible pilot"  as George Bush did. Had I known, as he did, that in 1998 US intelligence learned of a terrorist plan to attack the World Trade Center with hijacked airplanes and that in 1999 US intelligence learned of a terrorist plan to attack the Pentagon and other g overnment buildings in Washington, D.C. with hijacked airplanes I would have known we were under attack. When I saw the second airplane take aim at the WTC and hit it my first thought was I have to reenlist. My second thought was, the Marines don’t need a seventy-year-old corporal. If I had been 18, I'm as certain as one can be about such things that I would have enlisted.


The war on Iraq is our war, one we started and one for which only a few are paying. I refuse to let the Bush administration hide it from me. As much as they permit, and as much as I can discover from foreign sources, I watch other soldiers bleed and other families, both ours and theirs, wracked with worry, separation and grief over lives lost and lives changed forever. I watch torture authorized by my government.


The financial cost of the war is being passed to my children and grandchildren. The cost in blood is being paid by other soldiers and other families. In Arthur Miller’s play, “All My Sons,” a government contractor is charged with making defective airplane parts responsible for the deaths of almost two dozen US pilots. Near the end of the play, the contractor discovers that one of the pilots was his son. At the end he confesses, “They were all my sons.”


In this war the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have been orphaned by their country, abandoned by their government that sent them. Thanks to George Bush, along with Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater and others, I have become what I most detest. A war-profiteer.





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