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I remember having an awareness about the war in Vietnam. Granted, I was only a young whippersnapper back then, but I remember images from TV and my parents’ conversations around the dinner table. I do remember when my cousin, David Linwood “Pete” Mathis (the family called him “Petesy”), was killed after a plane crashed that he and another man (Terry Steiner, 20) were testing after routine maintenance.

David Linwood Mathis:
Captain in the army reserve… helicopter pilot… start of tour in Vietnam 10/20/1969 (37 years ago today. I had no idea as I started writing this. It gives me chills.)
football player in high school… shy, but friendly… husband of Patricia… only child of my widowed great aunt… died 03/22/1970… 24 years old.

I was not particularly close to my great aunt, but my mother was. I remember my mom worrying about “Aunt Gussie” and how Petesy’s death affected her…at the time of his death, and until the end of her life many years later. How do you cope with something like that?!

mathisdl01c.jpgI don’t know what Aunt Gussie knew about the politics surrounding the war… why the US was there, what the objective was, whether or not she cared about the Vietnamese and the threat of communism. She was not an educated woman, so I doubt she followed the talking heads who debated the pros and cons day after day on the news, safely behind their desks in newsrooms, in war rooms, in oval offices. But I know she fiercely loved her son. I know she was proud of him being in the military. The picture that was displayed most prominently in her little mill house duplex was the one of him in his dress uniform.

This didn’t start out being a blog about Petesy. It started out being about the war in Iraq. It could be about any war, I suppose. It’s just so easy to forget that when today’s US death count in Iraq, according to the Dept. of Defense, is 2,787, that’s just more families whose lives will be forever altered like Aunt Gussie’s was. That’s not counting Iraqi deaths. That’s not counting wounded on either side. For more information about all of that and more gut-wrenching stats, visit this site.

And this war is so fast becoming that war all over again… not only in the politics of it—the dubious reasons for the US presence, the indigenous people not wanting us there, the increased violence against the troops… but in the way it’s dividing the country here. Bush et al keep saying that the US will leave when we’ve won. How do you win “the war on terror?” The more we “kill our enemies,” the more others rise up to hate us and become our enemies. I saw a bumper sticker that summed it up succinctly. It read We’re creating enemies faster than we can kill them.

I don’t have an answer. I just wish that Bush and company would admit that they don’t have the answer either, and that they would be willing to sit down in a room with both sides of US leadership, the Iraqi leaders, etc. and at least TALK about what can be done. What is happening is exactly what Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” And that’s where we find ourselves.

What can I do? I can vote for someone who says they will avail themselves of every diplomatic means available to stop this madness. And I can pray—not pray for the US to win, but pray for people to grow weary of war; pray that someone can “love their enemy” enough to put down their gun first; pray that that one action will start a domino effect of people who have had enough. I know that’s a daydream, but it could be a reality if enough people would just stop and say “I believe love is the answer.” Like the bumper sticker says, “Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I’ve always despised that bumper sticker for it’s arrogant attitude, but if we’re really followers of Jesus, and He really said we should love our enemy, then perhaps truer words have never been spoken. Wouldn’t it be nice to find out.

Rest in peace, Petesy.
On the Vietnam Memorial: Panel 13W Line 113

Written by blogicalinks

October 20, 2006 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Sharing

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