As Afghans lay sleeping

It’s not quite My Lai but it is a nightmare nonetheless. An American soldier, reportedly suffering  a mental breakdown, has killed Afghan civilians as they lay sleeping.

When Lt. Calley and his men lined up a village of women and children and executed them at point-blank range, nobody claimed the Great Satan was involved. The Vietnamese understood Lt. Calley to be a basket case. Not that they dismissed what he did. No. That happened when he and the others involved were tried in  a military court at Ft. Benning, Georgia — the military base in my hometown.

I grew up under the cloud of Lt. Calley, ashamed and silent, keenly aware of the public debate about Vietnam, and as I heard hundreds of time throughout my life — what a shame my father died in such a wasteful war.

Just as now, thousands of children whose fathers and mothers have died in Congress’s wrongly-conceived War on Terror will wake to the news that a U. S. Serviceman has gone apeshit and murdered families in their own homes.

Those children will feel conflicted because children have a keen sense of right and wrong that adults often rationalize away, especially when they serve in Congress.

And now the yammer-heads will begin the debate: Well, it was wrong but that’s what you get in war.

Of course it’s what you get in war which is why war should never be an act of retribution.

But that’s coming now, you can bet your sweet bibby on that.

Because the difference between a soldier murdering innocents in Afghan and Lt. Calley is that we weren’t fighting a Holy War in Vietnam.

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About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • WandaV

    Laying all the cards, face up on the table again, Karen. Thank you. Thank you.
    BRING THEM HOME!

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Me & Kenny Rogers, at it again.

  • Sandy

    Karen, Would you consider running for congress? Wait a minute you posess something that makes you ineligible for that post ie: you are wise & you have common sense, something that can’t be taught!

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      Sandy, I know four children who might beg to differ with you on that wise remark. :)

  • AFRoger

    Karen: I’m re-posting a comment I left on the Qu’ran burning post. Not sure if anyone saw it because of quick cover by the Meryl Streep post. But it fits today more than ever, especially after what I read in today’s newspaper: http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonatwar/2012/03/after_combat_many_vets_continu.html

    So here’s what I wrote two weeks ago:

    An Iraq War vet I’ve been spending time with told me last week the story of his two wars. Two…

    He was in Al-Anbar as the insurgency was kicking in big-time. It wasn’t just the relentless hyper-vigilance of daily shelling and insurgent sniping, the delivery of hundreds to Abu-Ghraib, the blood on his hands that today has his mind in a bear trap. That’s war number one.

    War number two is the moral divide that split his platoon right down the middle: Those who wanted to hold the high moral ground vs. those who wanted to kill indiscriminately, those who wanted to (and did) mutilate and take tissue trophies of the dead. I won’t go into detail. Use your imagination.

    It’s enough to be under constant threat from the enemy you never see or get a clear shot at. It’s another to be simultaneously under threat from those of your own unit whose back you have, never knowing if they have yours. So, two wars.

    I haven’t read his story in the news. I don’t expect I ever will. But I’ve seen the gashes he has inflicted on himself in the aftermath of it all. You can’t see the ones the contents of the bottles inflict, those hydraulic knives of alcohol. I thanked him for his service before we prayed. Not just the stuff encountered while in harm’s way, but for the truly unsung service that only a young man of incredibly high moral character would subject himself to: the service of trying to keep some of his young fellow soldiers from going off the deep end into atrocities. All at unbelievable risk to himself.

    He will never be recognized or decorated for these acts of valor, heroism, patrotism, courage. He should be, absolutely. He won’t be because our simplistic thinking about war prevents us from even conceptualizing such things, this damned and damnable collateral damage to our own who are sent to places by people who mostly haven’t a clue and by a country that mostly can’t be bothered to even know for sure what continent the theater of war is on, let alone its history.

    He’s been stateside since 9/11/04. But it’s been over eight years since he’s been “home”. I wonder if he ever will be in this life. Please think of him and pray for him the next time you see that bumper sticker or hear someone say “Support Our Troops”. Hold ‘em accountable for that. Please.

    • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

      I’m laughing over your ‘quick cover by the Meryl Streep post” remark. If it happens again, it’s not intentional. I write these posts as I think, which happens more and more randomly these days. But thanks for reposting this. A good word, indeed.

  • Bkfrandsen

    Thanks for the post. I “get” the holy war thing but don’t know how I would explain it to someone for sure, not quite sure if I interpret it correctly.

  • Gloria

    Thank you as always for the post Karen. After hearing this news I became instantly fearful. I am afraid for our troops that remain. There are promises of retribution. I know that I am not to walk in fear but I am not sure how to shake this fear off!


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