The Veterans We Dare not Remember
on Memorial Day
By Michael Hoffman
The Memorial Day holiday originated in upstate New York, in the village of Waterloo, after the War Between the States, not far from the Scythe Tree Farm, where a boy stuck a scythe into a tree on his parents’ land shortly after he was drafted into the Union Army, hoping he would return to retrieve it. As an adolescent history buff I visited the farm and one could glimpse the handle of the otherwise overgrown scythe protruding from the tree.
May 31, 2021 is a day when numerous blowhard enthusiasts for wars like the carnage George W. Bush needlessly inflicted in Iraq, profess their alleged patriotic love of America’s military vets. In many cases that profession is as fork-tongued as the ones that take place in November on Veteran’s Day.
Those willing to fight and die for the continuing security of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Saudi supremacy in Yemen and Bahrain, and the profits of Bechtel corporation (in which Dick Cheney was invested) and the Carlyle Group (George H.W. Bush’s cash cow), are praised and hallowed. Yet seldom are the laurels accompanied by a pledge to diminish the military-industrial complex and free our nation from war profiteers and save American lives.
Veteran’s Day was founded after the end of the fratricidal First World War as “Armistice Day,” as a pledge to remember never to fight such a war again. But instead of a peace day it became a warriors’ day and Americans marched to the fratricidal Second World War, and then the no-win “police action” in Korea, followed by the more familiar disastrous quagmires of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As you peruse your newspapers, Internet and TV today, veterans of the Federal government’s various wars will be honored, as all the front line grunts should be. My eighteen year old immigrant maternal great-uncle, upon arriving in America, was conscripted and dispatched in 1918 to the killing fields of Europe where he was awarded the Silver Star and the battlefield rank of sergeant. He was so humble our family didn’t learn of his medal for heroism until he passed away and willed it to this writer.
My father was a Navy corpsman attached to the Marines in the Pacific theater in 1945. My father’s naively patriotic brother, David, after 20 years in the Navy, shortly thereafter joined the army at age 38, so he could “fight the Communists” in Vietnam. He died of exposure to Agent Orange when he was not yet 70.
All of my relatives, as well as my high school buddies who perished in Vietnam, have my respect and devotion, in that it is my desire to see that no other Americans fight and die in bankers’ wars.
I have a story to recount that is worse than dying to make the world safe for plutocracy. It’s one you won’t see in the media today, or hear out of the mouths of the politicians seeking to exploit sacred Memorial Day gatherings, for the sake of their venal ambitions and agendas.
On June 8, 1967 our nation’s naval ship, the USS Liberty, was attacked by the Israeli air force for much of that horrible day. 34 of our sailors were killed. 174 were wounded. This was an intentional massacre by America’s “Israeli allies,” intended to sink the Liberty because it had military intelligence on Israeli movements during the Six Day War. The plan was to blame the Arabs of Egypt for the attack.
The USS Liberty did not sink however, but its May Day calls went unanswered. Navy fighter jets, under orders from President Lyndon Johnson, were commanded to stand down as American sailors were killed and maimed. Mr. Johnson was quoted as having said, “I want that goddamned ship on the ocean floor.” Yes, Lyndon Baines Johnson was a traitor to the men of our armed forces.
What lessons are to be learned from this betrayal? You’ll never know because it cannot be broached in the corporate news, on Memorial Day, Veterans Day or this coming June 8, the 54th anniversary of the slaughter. The Israeli bombing of the Liberty is kryptonite to the would-be Supermen who rule us, and consequently it has been sent down the memory hole.
Before you commence to cursing Biden in this regard, be mindful of Trump’s disgusting masquerade as a super-patriot. If one is a patriotic Commander in Chief (never mind “super”), the first order of business would be to award medals for bravery both posthumously and to the forgotten living survivors of the USS Liberty massacre, and initiate hearings in Congress on the betrayal of the sailors by President Johnson and navy officials (with the honorable exception of Admiral Thomas Moorer).
Donald “Israel First” Trump kept the Israeli war crime against our USS Liberty sailors under wraps, as have all previous administrations. Don’t be hoodwinked.
Survivors of the Israeli slaughter aboard the Liberty are aging and soon they will all be gone. Light a candle this Memorial Day to their memory and contemplate what it means to reside in the United States of Amnesia, where the memory of our fallen is cravenly captive to the needs of the Israelis—blowhard declarations of patriotism notwithstanding.
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