Monday, 4 June 2007

Friday Mornings at the Pentagon

One day Blair will pay for his illegal wars

Forget the illegality of Blairs war and just consider the way our war wounded are treated on their return to the U.K. and how America treats their wounded servicemen.

No Military Hospitals for our heroes. Labour closed these hospitals of excellence and threw their dedicated trained medical servicemen and women onto the scrap heap.

Now our injured warriors lie with their wounds in dirty, mixed wards where they are more likely to die from MRSA then their combat injurys. Such is the state of the NHS.

Thanks to Dave for pointing me to this article about the way America, for all its faults treats their wounded in action servicemen.

By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY McClatchy Newspapers

It's that time of year again. Memorial Day weekend is the beginning of summer fun for most Americans, and as I've done before in this space, I want to pause to take note of the real reason there is a Memorial Day.

It's meant to honor and pay our respects to those Americans who've given their lives in service to our nation, who stand in an unbroken line from Lexington's rude bridge to Cemetery Ridge to the Argonne Forest to the beaches of Normandy to the frozen Chosin Reservoir to the Ia Drang Valley to the sands of Kuwait to the streets of Baghdad.

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospi tals.

This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman , who recently completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Web site.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all
crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

"This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air
conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

"10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, a nd some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I lau gh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. `My hands hurt.' Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

"They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this
hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this , the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

"These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years." Did you know that? The media hasn't told the story.

(Copyright 2007 by Robert Bateman; reprinted here by permission.)

A British National Party Government would keep Our Country and Our Servicemen out of these foreign wars. They would also treat Our Servicemen with the respect they deserve.

The patriot volunteer, fighting for country and his rights, makes the most reliable soldier on earth.


celtic morning said...

So many young lives lost for a lost cause , a war that should never have been . Its fashionable in Britain to denigrate America but they are , or should be , our natural allies and we have stood together over the years . For how much longer ? That depends on the rate of immigration from Mexico and other S.American , Spanish speaking countries . They face the same problems as we do , becoming swamped and losing their country to alien occupation. We may yet need a strong and "American " America to help us fight the next battle for Britain which must surely one day be fought - on our very own soil .I wish we would treat our veterans with the same respect . Has Blair ever met a grieving family or visited the severely wounded ? Maybe that experience would , at last , wipe the stupid grin from his cretinous face.

Anonymous said...

But this is a tale of how the US forces treat their own. And so they should.

Now although a thousand mad mullahs wanting his severed head on a plate means Prince Harry had to stay home for the good of everyone else out there while his men and his friends went off into Blair's War, I'd bet he'd gladly throw open the gates of Buck House for something similar for our people given the idea and half the chance. And if he really takes after his mum he'd do it whether or not grandma and grandpa like the idea.....

But read the last bit of that story again. "This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years. Did you know that? The media hasn't told the story."

I am just about old enough to remember the documentary footage of the way the US treated its returning Vietnam vets. For those much younger go watch the first of the Rambo films. and try to ignore Stallone's acting and concentrate on how he is treated by the police.

The fact that the media haven't told the story speaks volumes. They're worried, or they already know, the US voters are soon going to want to forget the whole thing ever happened.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Damn I forgot something (again) !

Rambo III was on last week (again). Remember this was released at around the same time as the RUSSIANS were discovering the hard way what the BRITISH had also discovered the hard way a hundred years earlier - that when you go shooting the crap out of the Afghans' you get Kicked Up The Khyber Pass.

So Rambo's teamed up with the fundamentalist islamist militia bravely emulating the polish cavalry of WWII, taking on Russian tank brigades by riding on horseback into combat against them armed with little more than AK47's.

And the closing credits dedicate the film to the brave and gallant men and women of afghanistan fighting for their lives against the might of the evil empire.

Remember that next time you see those same fundamentalist islamist militia emptying heavy machine gun magazines in the general direction of patrolling british trops in helmand province.

I wonder if Rambo III's director would put the same end credit on Rambo LXIII ? Somehow I suspect not.

And now, yes I have to get off to work. Bills to pay and all that

Anonymous said...

Yes, John, I remember how returning U.S. Vietnam vets were treated - I was one of them. It is worth noting now that the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) has as its creed, "Never Again Will A Veteran Be Forgotten". It is a creed that has been adopted by the general public, perhaps subconsciously, as a way of making amends for the shoddy treatment for 'other' vets.
~ (USA)