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Glory

I thought that I had originally posted this in February but apparently there is a difference between the publish post and save post buttons.

I began taking a look at recruiting commercials for the United States Marines. I found a couple that interested me. USMC Commercial #1 interested me because of the 30 second commercial; there are no words until the 25 second mark. Before that it is images glorifying the Marines. There are drill lines doing fancy things with guns, planes taking off from a battle ship, marines walking across a rough terrain and breaking into a run down house. Then the words come across the screen “We do not accept applications, only commitments.” Following more images of Marines doing ‘cool’ things. Following the words, an announcer saying “The few, the proud, the Marines.” I think this commercial is very effective because it makes the Marines look like all they do is cool, manly stuff.

USMC Commercial #2 has all spoken words. It shows images from WWII and the beach of Normandy. It then shows a Marine surrounded by kids in an apparent other country. The narrator talks about “freeing countries, protecting the weak and defeating the strong.” This is another commercial glorifying the Marines. This makes me think that someone has found glorification to be the best recruitment method.

This then made me think of the WWI poems we read. Rupert Brooke’s poem, The Soldier, can also be argued that he is glorifying the soldier.

“If I should die, think only this of me: / That there’s some corner of a foreign field/ In that rich earth a ricer dust concealed;/ A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,/ A body of England’s, breathing English air,”

Brook is glorifying the death of the soldier just like the Marine videos are glorifying being a solder. This obviously must be the most effective way to recruit soldiers.

New USMC Commercial.  April 7, 2007

USMC Recruiting Ad.  December 5, 2007

Rupert Brooke, The Soldier

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‘The man’

Watching Born on the Fourth of July in class I found the beginning of the movie very odd.  Ron was SO excited to go to war, he looked forward to going (while doubting himself some- Tim O’Brien’s “I was a coward, I went to Vietnam” anyone?).  I found this attitude to be totally bizarre.  At first, I thought he was doing this to impress his family, friends and even a girl.  But when he went, I truly believed he wanted to go and was being the “ultimate” man.

I wanted to further look at this attitude about being a “man” and going to war.  I asked a buddy of mine, David, who recently got back from Iraq why he went into the military.  And his first response was, “To become a man.”  He had many other reasons but that was his first response.  This attitude is bizarre to me.  I can not grasp it.  Here I am thinking that I am a man, but I have not been to war.  Does this make me less of a man?

I asked my friend David this and he replys, “No, you are doing other things to become a man, going to school, working living on your own, I chose to go to war for this feeling.”  I take a look at Ron’s experience in the movie and can’t help to think that going to war was his way of prooving his “manhood.”  I think this may be one of the reasons he took his disability so hard.  He may have though he was less of a man becuase of being in a wheelchair and having to rely on help from other people to accomplish daily tasks.

Going to war is seen by many to be the ultimate approval of manood, but I choose to stay, and not fight.  If this makes me less of a man, so be it.

David N., Personal Interview (Phone).  Army Ranger

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Ghosts

One line. One line stopped me in the middle of the paragraph and revert back to The Ghosts May Laugh. “They all carried ghosts” (O’Brien 10). I remembered the speech at the end of the play by Jones. Everyone of the characters in the play had ghosts that haunted them. I decided to take a further look into ghosts and what they meant. Doing research on post traumatic stress disorder with veterans I found a symptom of this was flashbacks. I read multiple stories of these flashbacks and nearly every one involved someone dying from the war the veteran was in. I have come to a conclusion that these “ghosts” are cases of flashbacks. It is important to note that post traumatic stress disorder was not defined until 1980 after Vietnam.

I found an article on the Iraq war about PTSD. Trauma of Iraq War Haunting Thousands Returning Home by William Welch follows a Veterans center and discusses PTSD. The author says that “Of the 244,054 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan already discharged from service, 12,422 have been in VA counseling centers for readjustment problems and symptoms associated with PTSD” (Welch). It is important to note that the article was written in 2005 so the most recent numbers were not analyzed. That is 5% of veterans of Iraq having symptoms of PTSD or other psychological problems.

One extreme case was of Jesus Bocanerga. He is a veteran of Iraq and was in a squad that persuaded Saddam Hussein. He says that he had flashbacks that he couldn’t control and was diagnosed with PTSD. He would see the murder of children and women. These are what I consider his ghosts. While in service he called in a helicopter to destroy a house. After the raid was complete he could hear the children and women screaming from within the house. They weren’t supposed to be in that house. These are his ghosts.

Our reading has been brought up twice now. I think this concept is universal with veterans. There are numerous pop culture examples, which we all know are truth. Well, maybe a little bit is based on truth. Take the movie Troy, Achilles has a seen with his cousin where he says that his cousin is not ready for combat because he isn’t ready to kill. Achilles says that he sees every single person he killed, and that they are waiting for him. In the totally realistic show LOST where Sayid, a former Iraqi soldier, has numerous flashbacks to when he was torturing for the Iraqi government. Those are his ghosts. They all carry ghosts.

Welch, William.  Trauma of Iraq War Haunting Thousands Returning Home.  2005

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The Men of Killer Blue II

I recently wrote about The Men of Killer Blue and compared it to Elie Weisel’s Night. After reading The Things they Carried by Tim O’Brien, I feel that post needed an updating. After spending fifteen months over seas a regiment of marines returned home many found it difficult to transition back into every day life. They experienced many horrible things in Iraq and many of them carried these tragedies with them. It is through this thought that made me think of Tim O’Brien’s novel.

O’Brien in the first chapter defines what he means by things they carried. He mentions all of their ammunition, weapons and equipment weighs. But more importantly he writes about the mental side of what soldiers carried in the Vietnam War. He writes:

They carried all the emotional baggage of men who might die. Grief, terror, love, longing – these were intangibles, but the intangibles had their own mass and specific gravity, they had tangible weight.

O’Brien is saying that along with all of the equipment, soldiers carried all of their thoughts. There were some horrifying events that occurred in Vietnam. This leads me to believe that their thoughts are much more sadistic than most. I can only imagine the burden of these thoughts on the Vietnam soldiers.

After reading about the men of Killer Blue and reading about their struggles I feel they may be carrying these burdens that O’Brien writes about. The Killer blue men faced their own death, caused death, and witnessed numerous deaths. They carried their thoughts.

Back from iraq, Killer Blue looks ahead.  MSNBC.com. March 16 2009

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The Men of Killer Blue

A regiment of Army soldiers, known as Killer Blue has returned home after fifteen months deployed in Iraq. They have returned to self skepticism about every day life. Some can’t trust people they see because they are no in uniform. While some question their ability to be husbands and fathers. Two dozen of the Killer Blue soldiers died while many came back with purple hearts (the award no one wants to earn). In the article on MSNBC.com many of the members of Killer Blue discussed life in Iraq, being attacked and being home. Many found it different and difficult.

This article brought me to think about Ellie Weisel and the father from Maus. It must have been very difficult to return to normal, everyday life following the Holocaust it is tough to know what they went through because these two books were strictly on the Holocaust and not life following; but with the developed characters from these books I think it is safe to assume that it was very difficult for them to return to life. They came back missing friends, family members and homes. They came back with no money or valuables. And worse of all, they came back to people knowing where they went and I can not imagine the lack of pride one took in oneself following returning from a concentration camp.

During the article the men of Killer Blue talked about the death of a sergeant changed everything. Before that people enjoyed the time they had together to bond, trading cigarettes and food rations. After a roadside bomb took the life of that sergeant (Caldwell) one member said that’s when the laughter stopped and they realized the seriousness of their situation. The companies motto became “baptized by fire, came out steel.” I feel this motto fits as being shot at is seen as being “under fire.” Derrek Griffard said that he will live his life to the fullest before something else happens. I feel this is what it would have felt like after the Holocaust for the survivors, to live every day to the fullest.

Back from Iraq, Killer Blue looks ahead.  MSNBC.com March 16, 2009

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Is there justice from the Holocaust?

I recently came across an article that ties in perfectly to Night, Maus and the discussions in class. MSNBC ran an article about a Fromer Nazi camp guard being charged in Munich with 29,000 accessories to murder charges for his role at the Sobibor Nazi camp. John Demjanjuk immigrated to America in the 1950s and received citizenship in 1958. The US Justice Department deported him to Israel in the early 90s for believing he played a role as a Nazi murderer. He was released back to the US after seven years in custody there when they found evidence that he was not the Nazi they were looking for. The Justice Department continued investigating and found his presumed role as a Nazi and said they would support the deportation to Germany or Poland for charges to be filed.

John Demjanjuk is now 88 and living in a suburb in Ohio. Some might question the deportation of an 88 year old man for a crime committed over sixty years ago. This is where our readings come into play. These readings have showed me some of the emotion of people who lived through the Holocaust. It is through these emotions that I believe it is right to deport and charge this man. A notable fact from the article is that Demjanjuk spent only seven months at that concentration camp. Seven months. Seven months with 29,000 Jewish people dead. That is over 130 people being murdered a day at his camp under his guard. To think that people that are responsible for that many deaths may be living amongst us today is appalling.

This article prompted me to look into efforts of finding former Nazis and bringing them to justice. I discovered that the US Justice Department has a special investigation unit designated to Nazis. I also found an organization called Israel’s Simon Wiesenthal Center. This organization employs what they call “Nazi Hunters” whose sole responsibility is to investigate people believed to be or have been Nazis.

It is difficult sometimes for people my generation to grasp the Holocaust. It is through works like Night and Maus that put this tragic time into perspective for us. It is through these works that give me the emotion to care about this article.

Former Nazi camp guard charged 29,000 times, MSNBC.com March 11, 2009

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