We see the thrill, but not the consequences.
We only know what is reported. Either by storytelling, films, newspaper and or pictures. An article found in “The national Institute, 2004 issue” by Chris Hedge, allows us dive deep into understanding that without a holistic review of information our realities are misconstrued. In “Evidence of Things Not seen,” Chris paints a vivid picture of the realities that come as an aftermath of war. He argues that these realties are seldom acknowledged if ever. And in the case when someone tries to shed light on the horrid issues of Modern warfare. They are offset and inundated by films and stories that inculcate sentiments of heroism and patriotism. This making war impersonal and palatable. Chris Hedges argues that the general population prefer to subscribe to the myth of war which include the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism. He goes on to say that although he did not go to war as a solider he went to war as a correspondent, and by no means does he believe that war is cause for a patriotism. Instead he argues it corrupts our souls, deforms our bodies. Through this article he looks beyond the myth of war, and focuses on the evil of war.
Chris opens the article by stating that he grew up in the shadows of war. Why? Because his father and uncles fought in World War II. He had an authentic pipeline of sentiments from actual soldiers serving in war. His father was an Army sergeant in North Africa and then a Presbyterian minister. His father disliked the military and even more so hated the lie that it told. That of manhood and patriotism. Chris shares an instance during a Fourth of July parade his father approached him meanwhile some “paunchy veterans” were walking by, and said “Always remember, most of those guys were fixing the trucks in the rear.” So even though the veterans had been to the war that comment allowed Chris to ask the questions: “So what they did, Is that not part of war?” Should we not celebrate that they would fix the cars for our men to go out and fight for our Freedom? In this instance another questions arises that question even the validity of celebrating war. Chris’ dad is a veteran, why doesn’t he celebrate war?
When Chris was about 12 years old these questions above were answered. His dad told him, “that if he was ever drafted for the Vietnam War he would go to prison with him.” His dad would rather him go to jail than to allow his son to go through the corruption of war. This concept of “corruption of war” is better explained later in the article when Chris mentioned he had been looking through a book of images by photographer Philip Jones Griffiths, titled: Agent Orange: Collateral Damage” in Viet Nam. Looking though graphic picture of the aftermath of the war he remembered an instance of his Uncle Maurice. When his uncle came back from war he shared his father’s anger and feeling of betrayal. His life was destroyed by war, and even after have gotten wounded and being offered to be honored for his service with a purple heart his uncle refused it. Chris remembered of an instance where his uncle told him story where a group of soldiers was getting water in a river near a house. They gathered their water and then went behind the house, there they found 25 dead bodies of Japanese soldiers.
In the story above those who are used by war and then serve no more positive purpose to the objective of the war are then crumpled up and thrown away, like those 25 Japanese soldiers. That is is the reality of war. But that message is just too difficult to digest. So instead we turn away. Just like those soldiers were left without being honored and buried, our society turns their back on our soldiers and instead offers to repair their mangled bodies and spirts with a badge. Our veterans come back with some many struggles with horrors of wound, physical and mental and we congratulate them and tell them what a good job they did overseas. Meanwhile all they saw was death.
In 1962 the United States set out to destroy the crops and forest of the Vietcong. They used a herbicide know as Agent Orange, after the color of the canister used to distribute it. This created a “genetic time bomb.” Before, war would leave you without hands, feet, legs, arms and so on. Now, with this new attack on Vietcong, it gave them extra body part, and produced birth defects. Unfortunately, there were some there were some Vietnam veterans that were affected by this raid. But knowing that this was wrong, children born years after the war wounded as if the war never ended. The American soldiers were compensated over $180 million. This events are hardly spoken about. The American veterans that were affected were silenced with money, and the Vietcong that were affected continued to suffer. Regardless the veterans that now understand the anguish and pain that is caused by this are celebrated for being patriotic. So even if the veteran wanted to speak up. He was faced with speaking up against something that was “the correct thing.” But it is not, he can tell what is right because he has experienced both sides already.
Even when there is some quality material that is trying to denounce war, it fails. Why? Because of this misconstrued thrill of violence and power. We see films that show combat scenes and only grasp the comradery and aesthetics of the film. This is what Chris calls “War porn.” The same reason it is difficult to denounce pornography showing erotic love scenes is the same reason is that civilians are enamored and combat scenes. War is turned into a spectacle. But looking a raw untouched material or having direct pipelines to war sentiment allow you to see beyond the national flag waving used to propel us into war. In short, the reason this reading exist is to allow us to analyze the aftermath of war. I’m not talking about the medal or honoring ceremonies. I’m talking about the painful manifestation of gratitude towards those who fit out image of what war should be or not be.