Sorry, no music from The Patriot. That musical score didn’t really strike me. But on the subject of John Williams music, here’s part of the Academy Award nominated score from Amistad.
Well, I’m about a week too late, but here’s some of the music from Last of the Mohicans for those interested. One of the few good things about the movie…
For those that are interested, I’ve uploaded all of the musical numbers from Pocahontas.
Gambone’s introduction gave a nice recap and memory refresher of American military service and veterans pre-WWII. However, something about Severo and Milford’s chapter rubbed me the wrong way. I just felt sort of annoyed reading it. Maybe it was the fact that they put even more focus on Agent Orange. Were all those chapters not enough? I did like how they circled back to Shays, though even that was connected to Agent Orange. They did point out that despite the problems associated with Vietnam veterans, they were treated about the same as any other American veterans, excluding WWII vets (who didn’t have all rainbows and posies themselves).
On the NPR stories, I find the way so many veterans are forced to live to be despicable. One out of four homeless in America are veterans! Iraq veterans are coming home unable to get work, suffering from PTSD. While most people are against the war, I’m pretty sure a lot of them are supportive of the people over there. So why can’t veterans catch a break?
We’ve learned about the many improvements for veterans: Resch’s suffering soldier and public sentiment, pensions for the disabled, soldier’s homes, veteran organizations, veteran’s hospitals, the VA, the GI Bill, and more. These things don’t often seem like such improvements after reading The Wages of War and Born on the Fourth of July and what have you, but compared to the most deprived of American veterans, those of the Revolution, things really are for the better. Just not as good as they should, as they really need to be. If the government doesn’t want to pay for veteran benefits, if the people don’t want to have compassion towards veterans, then America needs to stop creating them.
Rhonda Cornum joined the Army in 1978 and was in the Persian Gulf War. Her grandfather, who was a marine during WWII, influenced her. Though he never really talked about his experiences, she was impressed by the way he carried himself, and she hoped to be similar. It’s interesting to see how the “greatest generation” and the “good war” continued to impact later generations.
Iraqis captured Cornum when her attack helicopter (she was a medical officer) went down. She was injured (gun shot wound to the shoulder, two broken arms, a blown out knee, etc.) and was one of three out of the eight people on the Black Hawk to survive the crash. Cornum was a POW for seven days. Though a woman, the second one captured in the war, she was not treated any differently than the men. She’s still in the Army.
The Persian Gulf War is certainly not my field of expertise (not that I really have any at this point), and, sadly, it’s one of the last wars that comes to my mind when considering American wars. This interview was interesting to look at because of that, and it helped me to think more about the Gulf War. Despite her experiences with the military, or perhaps because of them, Cornum is an extremely optimistic person, and she really enjoys what she does. That’s the best anyone can hope for.
I like being able to listen to the women speak about their experiences. It provides the listener with a more personal connection to the veteran. You get a sense of the kind of person they are, especially their sense of humor.
Violet Hill Gordon was an African American (very interesting!) in the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) during WWII. After the war ended, she stayed on as the WAAC was absorbed into the Army and became the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), which allowed her to make use of the G.I. Bill. When she left the military at the rank of captain, she completed her education and started a career in social work. The military opened up a new field of work that she had never considered, and it also helped to develop her strength of character.
One of Gordon’s comments that I found particularly entertaining was about her friend joining the Navy. “Her reason for selecting the Navy over the Army was that the Navy uniforms were much more chic. She just couldn’t imagine herself in all that kaki.”
Frances M. Liberty was part of the Army Nurse Corps and served during WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. During WWII nurses were needed very badly, and in comparison to WWI, they were treated with respect, though they didn’t receive offical rank until 1957. Liberty was part of the first wave at Anzio, where the nurses maintained a foxhole aid station and lost several people. She was separated, but not discharged after the war ended, and went to work in a hospital.
During the Korean War she was called back into service, at the rank of captain. Liberty treated the wounded that were sent back home from Korea, before going there herself. When she left, she stayed on active duty as a teacher. Though she characterized herself as a blunt and impolite nurse, she had the night shifts caring for John Foster Dulles, who she played cards with at Walter Reed.
A colonel by Vietnam Liberty went there three times. The first time she was important in starting M.A.S.H. units. The second time she was there as a disciplinarian to some of the nurses having trouble. The last time she was at Cam Ranh Bay, working in a large hospital when it was attacked. Being a nurse since WWII, Liberty commented on the advanced treatments by the time of Vietnam. She mentioned that triage was the most difficult for Americans to learn. She eventually retired, after 28 years in the military. She was glad for the experience her time in the military provided, though she did have trouble volunteering in hospitals afterwards. They wouldn’t accept her because she was too qualified!
I’m glad to go back and fill in the blanks of the American wars that are often less focused on. Many of them are just as important as the wars we’ve already gone over in class, but I guess just not as interesting to the general public and (I sadly admit) to me for that matter.
On the issue of the Revolutionary War veteran pension, Severo and Milford cover some of the same points as Resch, the idea of a people’s war, public sentiment, and the suffering soldier, without actually naming them. Despite a pension, Revolution and later 1812 veterans don’t end up with much of anything. With a government willing to cheat George Washington out of some money, what do you expect?
In between the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, the American military was not a respected institution. It was mostly composed of incoming immigrants, Irish and German, who were despised by many native-borns. Quite a few soldiers defected to the Mexican side.
The war against Spain was enthusiastically supported by the American public, one ironic reason being that they believed the Spanish were treating the Cubans inhumanely. However much support they had, more soldiers died from various diseases in camps (not at all thought out very well) at home than they did in combat. America gained the Philippines from Spain at the end of the war. The Filipinos, who had no interest in being controlled once again, rebelled and soon found that the Americans were much crueler than the Spanish. The guerrilla style used by the Filipinos and the racism of American troops led to many instances much like Vietnam’s My Lai.
Veterans of Korea returned to a paranoid, anti-communist American that had to justify not winning the war. Someone had to be blamed, so why not make it the soldiers? It’s not like they’d just been through very much. POWS were actually accused of being communists and were treated as enemies. It seems very much like the treatment of WWII Soviet POWs, being sent to the Gulog once they were freed. I believe this issue is expressed in the book and movie The Manchurain Candidate, where a captured platoon returns home brainwashed by Communists.
This reading is mostly focused on American memorials of war, from the Revolution to Vietnam (mostly Vietnam), as well as memorials of other countries. I found this part of the conclusion very interesting, especially that German memorials of WWI maintained a view that helped precipitate the next world war.
Veterans of Korea didn’t get much recognition, as they were soldiers of a so-called “forgotten war.” At first, memorials to Korea vets were actually combined with WWII vets, which I found somewhat unfair to both groups. Vietnam, America’s first defeat in a war, was much the opposite of Korea in that it couldn’t be erased from the public’s mind. This led to Vietnam memorials being built relatively quickly in comparison to other wars, as well as a different type of memorial. Memorials of the past emphasized the valor and heroism of war, but those of Vietnam were dedicated to expressing the pain and loss caused by war, as well as a level of equality in the representation of women and minorities.
There was also an issue over the idea of a Smithsonian run military museum. One person proposed something described as a theme park, though I don’t think that was necessarily the correct interpretation. Critics accused that the museum would glorify war. I believe war was already and still is glorified (I remember often playing war when I was younger) and a museum wouldn’t have made a difference. In fact, I think if it was done right it could educate the American public about war and its consequences and make us less inclined to be war-crazed mongrels. I think recreations of battlefields, more extensive than reenactments, could connect us to the past in ways normal museums are sometimes unable to do. I found the exhibit on America’s wars in Washington D.C.’s American History Museum to be one of the best parts of the museum, and I wouldn’t mind if it was expanded on.
“… is a country without a soul, and a country without a soul is a country that cannot survive.”
Since I’m a discussion leader this week I’m only bring up a few points. The Wages of War often gets me worked up and angry about the shoddy treatment of veterans, and this is no exception. Severo and Milford portray the victimized veteran well… which is important to keep in mind when considering the book’s bias.
It’s interesting to compare the Vietnam conflict to the Philippine-American War and the war in Iraq, but these comparisons are valid in many ways. American soldiers in an uncertain climate fighting against an enemy that uses guerilla warfare, making it difficult to tell innocent civilians from combatants. I wouldn’t be surprised if a certain level of racism was also part of the reason for the disregard of human life sometimes displayed. This was the case for our “little brown brothers” of the Philippines. How often have we heard about massacres like My Lai committed by Americans during either World War? In Europe we were fighting against white Germans of civilized Western society, people like us. It’s true that thousands of innocent German civilians were bombed during WWII, but it seems to me that it would be less personal and more detached to the soldiers than the murder, rape, and mutilation of innocents. Now, this doesn’t say much about the Japanese, but if the invasion of Japan had happened, I imagine it would have been very similar to the above conflicts.
The Agent Orange issue was simply painful to read. Thousands of perfectly healthy young men go to Vietnam, get exposed to chemicals, and come back with strange problems, including rashes, growths, and cancer, as well as miscarriages and birth defects in their children. But, no, there’s no problem, especially not with the chemicals. When the VA and Department of Defense finally decided to investigate, the people they got to look into it were herbicide advocates! It’s no wonder they said there was nothing potentially unhealthy about Agent Orange or other herbicides. This was, of course, despite the scientific evidence that said, yes, many chemicals are dangerous, especially the dioxin used in Agent Orange. The VA and the government just didn’t want to pay up. Then there was that little matter about terrifying the public about its own chemical exposure, but I think Rachel Carson covered that pretty well already. This claim that it was basically all in the veterans’ heads went on for years, and when the vets were finally paid it wasn’t much and hardly seemed worth all the trouble.