November 13, 2006


El Cabrero comes from a military family going back in the official US to the American Revolution.

I'm pretty sure they kept busy before then too, coming as they did from the tribe Virginia Senator-Elect James Webb wrote about in his book Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish shaped America.

My ancestors did not always fight on the side I would have preferred, although they were fairly orthodox in conflicts involving more than one nation.

When Veteran's Day comes around (which I never think of as properly occurring on a weekend), I think of my ancestors and particularly of my late father, who belonged to that generation of Americans who enlisted shortly after asking the question:

Where the $#% is Pearl Harbor?

In his case, I'm pretty sure that's an exact quote. He joined the Navy and wound up island hopping in the Pacific. He was wounded on more than one occasion, but he always took pains to point out that he was always hit from behind.

I think he took this to be proof of his intelligence.

The scars he talked about the most though were the ones on his uniform, which he claimed were due to his repeatedly making rank and then being busted on shore leave for, well, acting like a sailor on shore leave.

He was pretty proud of that.

I'm sure others in the lineage served with more decorum, but I wouldn't trade these stories for anything.

When I was young enough, I felt the pull of family tradition but was repelled by the Reagan administration's support of death squads, torture, oligarchy, and terrorism in Central America. So was my father.

In my mind and his, Salvadoran death squads and contra terrorists had more in common with the fascists that his generation fought against.

I didn't escape the tribal pull but wound up fighting in other ways.

At any rate, while I'm not a big fan of war in general and the Iraq war in particular, I have no respect for those who have no respect for those who have put their bodies in the line for something larger than themselves.

Soldiers, alas, don't get to pick their wars or their commanders. They have little influence on the civilian political leaders who make decisions regarding war and peace. They depend on the rest of us for that.

It's the job of citizens to fight for justice for those who have to do the fighting.



Anonymous said...

H of a GOOD insight. CLASSIC. CAN relate to that. Myself. NOT a vet. THINGS happen in military, wars, etc.etc. BUT one of the things that bothers me bout iraq is ALLLLLLL this hi tech, procedures,etc. AND STILL we can NOT seem to...........

Jspiker said...

Reminds me of my Navy days also...
I was young and foolish back then.
Things sure change over the years!