Shakespeare, Memorial Day and Notes from a Real Veteran

I have seen better faces in my times Than stands on any shoulder that I see Before me at this instant.“…’tis my occupation to be plain;
I have seen better faces in my times
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.”

King Lear, act 2, sc. 2

Comment.  Scores of politicians and the military brass with colored ribbons, in fancy uniforms and be-flagged and be-medalled attire, will rush to outperform each other in the adulation of death on Memorial day.
It may be instructive to read the following notes from a real Veteran, from the Korean war.

This veteran (Jay Janson) is waiting for the year in which the Veterans For Peace, in its Memorial Day Press Release, state that Veterans mourn first the lives America took in poor countries, both the civilian men, women and children and the patriots who fought our illegal and criminal invasions since 1945.

Only then should come the bitter mourning for the GIs who were duped by our elected officials and the CIA and Pentagon-fed, corporate-controlled war-promoting media cartel, fooling them with lies, misinformation, disinformation and media-psychology techniques that deceived them into proudly following homicidal criminal orders.

Orders given, as Martin Luther King Jr. cried out, “for atrocity wars and covert homicide meant to maintain unjust predatory investments overseas.” – (note: readers may find it instructive to read and listen to Martin Luther King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break Silence).

My four buddies from basic training, whose corpses are somewhere in North Korea, would have wanted this kind of a press release. They were normal guys, still kids really. We thought going into the army was just something everyone had to do. They would have been pissed off to see cruelly ignorant Americans praising them on Memorial Day for their sacrifice. Jesus knows they did not want to die for any reason, let alone while killing others for lies. They loved waking up in the morning, loved children, all children, cute Korean children, especially. They were asking themselves, why are we killing Koreans in their own country?

If these four young men knew what I know now, whew! If they could rise up, they would surely be going after those high ranking military with lots of colorful ribbons on their smart uniforms, surrounded by flags and glorifying the US war in Korea and in all the dozens of countries since.

Damn! In 1945, the US Army landed in a Korea that America had recognized as Japanese territory since 1905 and during a forty year brutal occupation, in return for Japan’s acceptance of the US claim to own the Philippines and other islands in Asian waters. [see Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy, New York Times, James Bradley, 12/5/2009. See also the Taft-Katsura Agreement.] State Department officials quickly shut down the democratic all-Korea government the Japanese commanding general had allowed Koreans to form, once Japan was defeated.

Knowing this Korean government would not be pro-US., they set up in its place, a US Army military government; cut the nation in two and installed a brutal Korean from Washington as President. His special services and secret police would account for massacres totaling up to nearly 200,000 men, women and their children, in the years before the army of North Korea invaded and united the peninsula in five short weeks as the army of the Southern dictator defected or went home. These massacres of communists, socialists, unionists and people that did not accept the US partition of their country, kept secret by American media, have now been fully document by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up by the South Korean Congress. [see: Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Wikipedia] The US has recently officially apologized for its own massacres of civilians in the South.

North Korea today is the most militarized nation on the planet because it was leveled twice by merciless bombing, threatened with atom bombs, and for sixty-three years has suffered US arranged international sanctions meant to cripple it, and a continual campaign of slanderous attack in US media and never ending threats from Washington, while twice a year, great war game exercises go on so near its coast that the booms of US naval ships’ cannon and missiles are clearly heard in its capital city.

Last month saw the largest naval live-fire exercise in history, reportedly with North Korean flags painted on targets. What else could be the explanation of its leader threatening to hit the US with the few nuclear weapons it has, knowing the America that menaces it has 20,000, and the most powerful armed force in the history of the world.

But we have read and seen ‘the crazy North Korean leader story’ on prime time for a month. Last year right after US-South Korean war games, a South Korea warship was blown in two, probably by a US mine, but what is believed all over the Western media dominated world is that was an old North Korean torpedo.

Who knows or cares that the Chinese, the Russian Navy and a Japanese investigation found the accusation not credible, that the US and its UN Secretary General stooge refused to consider a North Korea request for a UN investigation of what it was accused of. [see N. Korean Torpedo Accusation Fizzles: Strong Probability of US Mine Strike Investigated, Counter Currents 6/11/2010]

No, the torpedo story was featured for weeks to justify tighter that ever sanctions and stronger threats than before, and Libya was a frightening example of what may be awaiting it.

If the media features for nine months weaponized pick-up trucks run by tough looking hombres as peaceful demonstrators against the government of oil wealthy Libya, a nation with a living standard higher than nine European countries, it becomes ‘truth,’ and the liberator of what was the poorest country in Africa, and leader of African Unity against continuing European exploitation, winds up with a blade up his backside, after being cornered by British and French warplanes. It does not matter that president of Italy recognized, only months before, that “Gadhafi is loved by his people.”

Not until US world hegemony is overthrown, will ordinary people come to know that almost one million Libyans, out of a total country population of six, were desperately demonstrating for their government and leader outside Tripoli as British and French high tech war planes were finishing off their nation’s army. [ or google for many articles and videos]

Note to US media personalities: Among the generals who were imprisoned or hung after trail at Nuremberg, were five media celebrities.

There are either similar absurd media concocted stories, or no story at all, that excuse US crimes against humanity to… protect the American way of life in the US.

Greece, Korea, Guatemala, Congo, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Lebanon, Cuba, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Serbia/Kosovo, Bosnia, Libya; the list of countries covertly attacked and government overthrown is longer and contains almost every nation in Latin America, many times over if crimes against peace Nuremberg Principle VI are included

Note and remember, invading little countries was nothing new for the US before World War II – Mexico, Nicaragua, Haiti, Philippines, China, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and more.

Again, this veteran is hoping that the Veterans For Peace Memorial Day Statement Press Release will say that Veterans For Peace, or at least many if not all Veterans For Peace, mourn the patriots of US invaded countries that fell fighting against overwhelming odds, and their civilian countrymen and children who also fell in harms way of those US invading forces.

To be polite, we mourn them first before mourning our own soldiers who were killed in the line of duty following our government’s criminal orders. Otherwise how can anyone believe Veterans For Peace condemns the taking of all these millions of lives of poor people overseas in illegal criminal military action; an illegal use of military that a Representative from Texas, Congressman and Republican candidate for president, Ron Paul, denounced (but did not call for prosecution).

Nothing less than this can possibly dent the usual Memorial Day adulation for dying for what Martin Luther King called “atrocity wars for maintaining unjust predatory investments on three continents.”

Here is what this veteran would have Veterans For Peace say to Americans on Memorial Day.

Text of proposed Declaration to the American People on Memorial Day

Dear Fellow Americans,

No Americans know more about US Wars than your veterans, who fought alongside buddies who did not make it home alive and will be mourned throughout the nation this weekend.

This Memorial Day 2013, Veterans For Peace is asking their fellow Americans to mourn quietly at home. We ask that all sincerely patriotic citizens not take part in military parades and festive open-air observances under flags flying military colors. It anyone asks you why, say you don’t like selective mourning, that is, mourning our dead but not those our soldiers killed.

Memorial Day has been hijacked, just as our nation has been hijacked, by the investment banks of the Military-Industrial-Complex. Its corporate owned media promotes and hails an indiscriminate celebration of all US wars as heroic.

These Memorial Day festive celebrations have become a tradition of praising those of us who followed orders to kill designated enemies unquestioningly, in more than a dozen nations since 1945 – and of military commanders, politicians and media anchors solemnly professing gratitude for the supreme sacrifice of those who died as a result.

We, your fellow Americans, who were trained to kill, and later fell in love with the dear people of the countries we were sent to kill, strongly suggest, for the protection of your children, that you tune out network news coverage of Memorial Day.

Corporate-owned commercial media, with an unrelenting agenda of deceitful war propaganda has taken the lives of many of your loved ones, luring them into serving a shameful use of military power, while your sons and daughters, in all good faith, sought only to serve their country.

These wars were undeclared and illegal and resulted in the terrible deaths of millions of fellow human beings in their own small and beloved countries – more often than not, dying in their very own homes. Last year one of the three present candidates for president (Ron Paul) firmly denounced these wars as having been illegal, unconstitutional, criminal and a monstrous disaster for America.

Veterans For Peace endorses the Martin-Luther-King-Jr.-Condemned-US-Wars-for-Predatory-Investments-International-Awareness-Campaign. Most members believe Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead because he would have awakened public responsibility and our capability to make such illegal wars unacceptable and inoperable through non-participation, non-support and conscientious objection. That would have crippled investor profits. King is mourned as a victim of US wars for profit.

Rev. King, was dangerous for the elite-investing community that rules the 99% of us. He condemned all US wars and clandestinely-organized violence “all around the world, “created to maintain “unfair predatory overseas investments.” King had the charisma to have prosecuted successfully what he called atrocity wars and crimes against humanity in the street and in the court of public opinion as he prosecuted successfully racist crimes against humanity at home.

Veterans condemn the Militarization of Memorial Day that originally was a sacred day of mourning the civil war that took loved ones of both sides who, once passed to the afterlife, are reunited in brotherhood.

Veterans For Peace sincerely wishes everyone a peaceful, loving and contemplative Memorial Day.

End of Declaration

(The above was a draft submitted to Veterans For Peace upon the request of last year’s Veterans For Peace President, but not published.)

Members of the Memorial Day Press Release Drafting Committee should realize, if not worrisomely, that there are very few people who believe that Veterans For Peace will bring these wars to a end or intends to do so. Even though, logically, those who willingly did the killing are the Americans who should most be able to lead the movement against wars.

Leadership of its largest chapters have even opposed the national office statement of support for the impeachment proposal presented by Rep. Dennis Kucinich and others in the House of Representatives.  (For our international readers, Dennis Kucinich was the Congressman from Ohio, one of the few voices in the wind against world-imperialist policies of the administrations)

At the same time former Veterans For Peace president Elliot Adams was in court after indicting President Obama and everyone who follows his criminal orders at the US Air Force Drone base at Hancock, New York.

I am absolutely convinced that eventually a separate faction of Veterans For Peace will constitute itself, and on a future Memorial Day, publish a Memorial Day press release of its own, going further, and calling for the prosecution of not only the government, but war investors, war promoters in media and clergy and the war crimes committed by military personnel.

Prosecute our own before our victims unite and prosecute all of us.

PS. I believe Ramsey Clark, Noam Chomsky, Ed Herman and Gustavo Esteva would glad to vouch for my sincerity and integrity and familiarity with history and current events.


The Shakespearean citation from King Lear applies to the characters mentioned in the first paragraph of this article.

Post Scriptum and comment from another Veteran
As a former president of VFP (Veterans For Peace) I can tell you that many of our members skip the Memorial Day celebrations altogether because those events are, primarily and sadly, a glorification of the military and the killing machines of war. Members who do participate carry our banner, a dove on a military helmet with our name writ large, and a variety of signs against war and the suffering — all suffering, not just that of U.S. veterans — it leaves in its wake. They typically receive a very enthusiastic response from people watching the parade.
Here is how a number of VFP members responded to a typical display of militarism that took place around Memorial Day a few years ago:

In the Play: Kent answers the duke of Cornwall who asked Kent what is the issue with Oswald, a pawn of the wicked sisters. The duke of Cornwall has surrounded himself with a band of flatterers and opportunists.

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One Response to Shakespeare, Memorial Day and Notes from a Real Veteran

  1. Melanie says:

    A great piece, Jimmy. This blind loyalty and the desire to remember only one set of people in America’s wars has always been bewildering. Thanks for drawing focus to this and the perspective of America’s Veterans for Peace. They are the only hope.

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