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I have been asked:

"... Are you really so proud of your military service? ...".


I was in the US Air Force during the time of the VietNam War, which war I opposed. It was a time when many people had complicated mixed feelings about war and military service, and I was no exception in that regard. At that time, many citizens were drafted into the US military, and thus put involuntarily at risk of being killed by the adversary. If I am in the Air Force, what do I do?

I carried out my duties.

I had no dramatic or heroic duties, just routine duties, but every duty contributes to the war effort.

My military role-model-hero is General William Tecumseh Sherman, of the US Army in the Civil War. He did not like war any more than I, saying that "War Is Hell".

(War Is Hell, painting by Mort Kunstler, 2001, Booth Westen Art Museum)

He carried out his duties methodically, using superior military strength to win battles and to destroy his adversary's ability to continue the war, thus ending it. He freed the slaves on the coast of Georgia, and as military ruler, he ordered that the slaves should be given ownership of the plantations on which they worked. His orders were reversed by USA politicians, who gave the plantations back to their former owners.

His dislike of the political system was such that, when he was asked to run for president of the USA, he said "If nominated I will not run, if elected I will not serve.".

The terrible mess of VietNam was in large part due to the heavy involvement of USA politicians. (For example, the USA could have just recognized the revolutionary government of VietNam after the defeat of the French, and there would have been no USA VietNam war.) No web page is long enough to detail all the political mistakes made by USA politicians with respect to the VietNam war.

As you may be able to see from the above, my feelings about such things are complicated, and hard to express.

I don't like war. War is Hell.

However, I don't like the idea of my fellow citizens being killed by adversaries, or defeated in battle.

Therefore, if I am put in the position of being at war, I will try to conduct my part in the war in the same way that Gen. Sherman conducted his part in the USA Civil War.


As to my feelings about my military adversaries, I do not hate them. On the contrary, I have sympathy and respect for them.

Again, Gen. Sherman of the US Civil War provides a good example. When Gen. W. T. Sherman's Union army came through my home town on the way to Atlanta, the opposing Confederate army was commanded by Gen. Joseph Johnston. Each had great respect for the other. When Gen. Sherman died in the winter of 1891, his funeral was held in cold winter weather. Even though Gen. Johnston was in ill health, he was determined to show his respect by attending the funeral of Gen. Sherman in person. The cold weather aggravated Gen. Johnston's illness, and he also died.

As to my opinion about men going to war, I will paraphrase what Gen. Sherman told one his daughters after the war:

"the war demonstrated that men are blind and crazy".

Words are imperfect carriers of information, and I am not very good with them, so I will end my efforts to discuss that subject (which is personally somewhat painful for me).




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