Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

The Blood-stained Banner

Posted: June 24, 2015 in Writing
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So…let’s talk about that rebel flag I got hanging on my wall. Let’s discuss why its flying on state property in some states and whether I am a HUGE racist for honoring men who died for an imperfect cause.

One of the first things we need to address is the whole bit about whether the war was about slavery or state’s rights. I’m tired of this one. Absolutely it was about state’s rights…but, in particular…the right of a state to allow slavery. In every state that seceeded, slave owners were a minority. But in every state that seceeded, the legislation passed for secession addressed the fact that slavery WAS the cause they were leaving over.

But do any of you think all them northern white boys were abolitionists? They risked their lives glad for a chance to rid the world of evil? If so, why was slavery allowed to continue throughout the war in Kentucky (Dec 18, 1865), Maryland (Nov 1, 1864)and Delaware (Dec 18, 1865) even AFTER the Great Emancipator did his proclamation bit (Jan 1st, 1863)? In fact, slavery was still legal in Kentucky and Delaware eight months AFTER the war ended with a Northern victory.

If slavery was why the South seceeded, these facts show it was certainly not the cause over which a Republican North invaded.

Could this war…like most wars…have been about much simpler economics from the aggressor’s point of view?

Republicans like to trot out the fact that their party was the one that freed the slaves. But that party was as corrupt then as it is now and one aspect of history that has not changed is Republican willingness to exchange blood for gold.

One of the dirty little secrets to the war’s origins is just how little the average northerner cared about secession and how willing many were to let the Confederacy go its own way. The nation’s first draft would be held during this war because not enough poor people showed up to fight for the Union without the gentle prodding of bayonets.

It wasn’t until March 30, 1861 (two weeks before Sumter), that the NEW YORK TIMES called for measures to be taken to bring the south back under control, specifically calling for the enforcement of “revenue laws.”

The reasoning was simple, every industrial power supports tariffs to protect the profits of those selling goods manufactured within their borders. Agricultural powers, on the other hand, do not want tariffs since it is necessary to import most manufactured goods and tariffs serve only to drive up those prices.

The NYT recognized, and made the public aware, that New York’s position as a port city and its economic influence on the world was jeopardized. If the US had tariffs and the CS did not, why would any exporter go to New York and lose money when he could dock at New Orleans and keep his profits intact?

This was the motivation of Republicans in 1861 as they invaded the South.

Then…the war to preserve the Union ended. Those states that had left the Union and were now occupied by the US military sent their congressmen and senators back to Washington.

After all, had not the purpose of the war been to preserve the Union? After being brought back into the fold at the point of a bayonet, the seceeding states were now all kicked out of the union and told they had to petition again for admittance.

Here is where the flags come in:

When those state legislatures met, they crafted new mottoes, nominated new state insects, and designed new state flags. Only one state, my home, MISSISSIPPI, included the Confederate Flag as part of its heraldry. That state refused to repent of the virtues of the warriors who fought for their state, even as they admitted the cause of slavery was unjust.

Alabama adopted the battle flag of a specific state cavalry regiment as its state flag. Also honoring its warriors, though it could no longer support their cause.

BUT Georgia added the Confederate flag to its state flag in 1956 as a protest against integration. There can be no argument that THIS usage of the flag was profane and intended as racist. That sacred banner was defiled as it was brought out to honor the causes of racism and not the deeds of the honorable men who had fought under it.

Like the Mississippi State legislature in 1894, I hang a Confederate flag in the corner of my room to honor the men whose patriotism and love of a sacred homeland led them to sacrifice and heroism. That their cause was imperfect, that their love of home could be cast as a sanction to racial slavery, does not lessen those men in my eyes anymore than recognition of the Union support of slavery in non-seceeding slave states taints the heroism of men who fought with honor against the Confederacy.

No matter what flag you fly over a state capital, that flag is stained with racial slavery.That terrible error is no reason to decry the United States and no reason to condemn the Confederacy. Let us not be the hypocrites who would curse one set of heroes in order to falsely increase the nobility of another.

I salute the Confederate Flag with affection, reverence and undying remembrance.

The Wars of Our Fathers

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Writing
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I grew up surrounded by Veterans. Our grandfathers and neighbors had fought in WW2 and our fathers and uncles had served in Vietnam and Korea. Some where in the fishing and deer hunting, these men taught us that life is sacred and to be cherished. That Duty is part of that. That sometimes Duty requires you to violate the sacred and kill other men. But that is the nature of Duty and Life is always sacred.

These men came home from their wars and built the world around us. I had never heard of PTSD but my Grandmother’s brother never talked about his war. I was cautioned not to ask. I was told he “saw some things.” He worked and raised his family and hunted and fished and did his Duty and knew life was sacred.

I am still surrounded by Veterans.

They speak constantly of their PTSD and our numbers among the homeless and outcast are greater than for any other segment of society. They kill themselves. My unit has lost more soldiers to suicide than we did to enemy action.

And when not complaining about PTSD, I hear people counseling further violence and calling for the death of people who really just need a good talking to or maybe an ass beating.

My Grandmother’s brother saw the truth of rounding people up and exterminating them because of the danger they represented. And I don’t think he ever found a way to explain any of what he saw.  Two generations later, it is easy to refuse the call of Duty and easy to suggest that hate is an answer.

There is one sword, one shield, and seven basic blows.

Then, there is the pell.

Every day I carry out the sixty pound base and set it up outside my apartment. Sometimes, the kids come by to watch. They ask if they can hit it. I usually drag out my six-year-old’s boffer gear and let them attack it while I’m resting. Sometimes the six-year-old, Kalev Bonecruncher the Berserk, will announce to the kids he has to train, too.

Earl Syr Knarlic Wulfersson, whose squire I am, has me throwing the blows again and again and again. I have power, some small speed, but he wants the recovery to become muscle memory. Throw the blow, let gravity bring the blade down, pull it back up into the ready position. Again and again and again. Again and again and again. Again and again and again.

Duke Conrad has instructed me some on my shield use. It’s a strapped round shield, and very unpopular. I am told again and again that I should get rid of it, but, for now, Earl Knarlic allows me to use it. Its used much differently from other shields and its only advantages are found in a certain offensive manner. My round shield is useless at mid range. I have to close distance quickly and then use the edge of the shield to push my opponent’s shield or sword away for an instant just long enough to strike.

Start out of range but close the distance quickly and scrape the edge of the pell with the rim of the shield, throw the blow, recover. Again and again and again. Again and again and again. .

Sir Osric is a reactionary fighter. He likes to stay back and launch his attack when an opponent makes a mistake. The round shield’s disadvantages all work in his favor. I step in to close the distance and my helmet rings. I can’t find an angle of approach that defeats this tactic.

He explains that I have to keep his sword busy as I close distance. It takes me a few tries to understand. he explains it again. I don’t have to hit him, I don’t have to move his weapon, I simply have to make it unwise to use the weapon as I move in. I start using an offside blow to the head (number four of the seven basic blows) hopefully requiring my opponent to block with his sword as I close that distance.

And then I stand before the pell again.

Start out of range and throw a distracting blow as I step in to close range, scrape the pell with my shield as I recover my sword and launch another blow without pause and recover. Again and again and again. Again and again and again.

It isn’t the sword I need to master. It isn’t this impossible round shield. I’m not exactly sure what I am trying to Master.

Hopefully, I recognize it when I get there, though.

This was written in response to the Daily Word prompt found here.

Posted: January 8, 2015 in Writing

As children, we bore wooden swords and plastic rifles

and our armies moved across the meadows

until the sun went down and the street lights came on.

Then we went home and put our toys away

and a pistol to our temple

to bid the day farewell.

HOMECOMING

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Writing
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When I volunteered to extend my tour in Afghanistan, my sister asked me why I didn’t want to go home. I tried to explain and failed. Then I sat down at my laptop and wrote this.

 

She asks why I don’t want to go home.

The boundaries of enlightenment are confusion and panic.

You are walking down a goat trail, using your black rifle to keep your balance while gravel slides, when everything that is not intrinsic to who you are gets stripped away by the sound of an RPK opening up behind you.

Even wearing full kit and armor, you drop to your belly. A rock no larger than your head becomes a fortress hiding you from the sharp killing whine above your head. Every sense you possess focuses on the origin of that noise. Eyes seek movement…ears seek the barking…part of you just FEELS for the thing trying to kill you.

And who you really are emerges to seek and kill. You no longer have a degree from a third rate engineering school. You are no longer a father, a son, a brother, a friend. You have never heard music, smelled grass, tasted caramel, kissed a girl, danced at a wedding, played with a child.

You become a primal beast on which society has overlaid it’s designs. You act without thought because beasts do not think. You violate the ultimate taboo…focusing everything you are on killing another beast that might once have been a man. Every muscle strains to close distance…you move so you can shoot…shoot so you can move…

Then it is over. That moment of satori, that moment of crystal clarity fathomable only to mystics and animals, ends. An RPG from an ANA soldier finds the machine gun. A round from a black rifle finds the heart or brain or maybe only the guts of the image of God that found his destiny in your reticle.

And slowly those layers of lies and half-truths and trivia envelope you again.

You become something you were not meant to be. Your son’s father, your mother’s son, citizen, Deist. That student who graduated cum laude with a meaningless degree in philosophy. The target of advertising campaigns designed to sell sex and beer. The inheritor of promises made by prophets long dead.

The first time you vomit. The second time you shake. The third time you laugh.

But you never get to go home again.

 

This is my offering for a writing challenge suggested by The Daily Post