by Patrick Devlin

In Sonny Boy Williamson’s song called “Decoration Day” he sings that his deceased wife asked him before she passed to bring flowers to her grave on every Decoration Day. Already a holiday of remembrance for the nearly half a million Civil War dead when the song was recorded in Aurora, IL in 1938, Sonny Boy’s wife asks him that he pay respects to her while he is at the graveyard on Decoration Day honoring the memory of our fallen soldiers.

The years tick by, the number of fallen ‘warriors’ (in today’s parlance) rises unabated and we stand today – the day after Veteran’s Day 2014 – with an additional million more American soldiers to memorialize since the Civil War, all victims of America’s misery stoking, millionaire making, mostly misbegotten military missions.

And, we are obliged to also remember the countless (actually worse, the uncounted) civilians, non-combatants, innocents, children and old people – the so-called ‘collateral damage’ – of ‘Merica’s military marauding.

Decoration Day, Remembrance Day, Veteran’s Day can and rightly should be called Seek Forgiveness Day, Apologies Day, Promise to Care For The Wounded Day.

While those left behind to remember the fallen after the bullets stop flying will not disagree with any of us who apologize for our funding and not stopping US wars when we exclaim correctly but impotently, “war is hell”, there are others who want us all to forget that it is a simple truth that ‘war sure sells!’ – as in guns and bombs and tanks and such- all of which is stimulative for the American economy. Just think- stimulative killing.

Everyone knows that there are winners and losers in war.

People of peace know this breaks down into two categories. The winners: politicians and industrialists, and, the losers: soldiers and civilians.

The war hero and peace hero Smedley Butler knew back before WWII that, when wearing a US uniform, our troops are “high class muscle (men) for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, racketeer(s), gangster(s) for capitalism.” Butler recognized after 33 years of military service, during which time he became one of America’s most highly decorated service members, that, “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

Butler also realized a truth about war that remains inescapable today as we send young people off to imperialize countries and vaporize humans, and receive back to our homeland the burnt and shattered remains of other young people to be interred in our graveyards;

“A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can’t end it by disarmament conferences. You can’t eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can’t wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.”

Following the protest and responsitory police violence in suburban St. Louis of the past months, the purse string holding American public realized that – while the Veterans’ Administration is running from allegations that it has failed to remember our fighting veterans’ medical needs – local coppers and town supervisors certainly have remembered our country’s hard fighting veteran military equipment and have been doing their level best to ensure that the millions and millions of tons of former Iraq and Afghanistan invading machines have safe homes to return to across our land.

Americans are now aware of Section 1208 (later replaced by section 1033) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1990 that allows US Department of Defense equipment, “including small arms and ammunition, that the Secretary determines is— (A) suitable for use by such agencies in counter-drug activities; and (B) excess to the needs of the Department of Defense,” to be transferred to state and local police officials to be used in everyday police work, facilitated through the military’s Law Enforcement Support Office. Another brilliant remnant of the policy makers who crafted the War on Drugs.

The predictable result of the program, as detailed by the American Civil Liberties Union this summer in their report, “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Police“, is that local yokel police forces – often with no training – are using six wheeled armored MRAP, or “mine resistant ambush protected”, troop carriers, in hamlets such as Mishawaka, IN and buying military drones that can film inside the windows of homes in Miami. And while the results of the program may be both disturbing and Keystone cop comical, as when an armored vehicle showed up to help diffuse a doggy poop dispute last week in Racine, WI, we have to remember as citizens that in America, there are brakes against employing “any part of the Army of the United States, as a posse comitatus, or otherwise, for the purpose of executing the laws, except in such cases and under such circumstances as such employment of said force may be expressly authorized by the Constitution or by act of Congress” when these posses of buzzed cut amped up military hardware brandishing police are coming at us.

Thanks to Jay Syrmopoulos of The Free Though Project, interested civilians can do the research they need to prepare themselves for police push back as they contemplate local protests against banker criminality or illegal wars (or even the rising cost of local library fines) in their sleepy little burgs. The group’s webpage has a handy tool that advises citizens of just what neat-o stuff their county has received from the US military. Cook County, IL – home of Chicago where I live – has at least 2 mine resistant vehicles it can ‘deploy’ at a value of over $700,000 each in case they have to do battle with a rouge posse of Mishawaka police.

What interested Cliven Bundy types may not know is that the veteran military equipment homecoming unit also offers surplus military products to any regular civilian who has the cash. Products that include an AM General M35A2C 2 1/2 ton, 6×6 Cargo Truck (current bid $745) or a John Deer, Crawler Loader Scoop Track, Model 755BH (opening bid $25).

So, every Decoration Day/Veterans Day we should all remember to;
– thank a veteran for their service,
– apologize that we as Americans asked them to do unthinkably horrible things to help industrialists buy really expensive gifts for their families,
– advise our town supervisors to help support the American economy by buying a crowd dispersing sonic cannon from the pentagon, and,
– consider buying a used Caterpillar D-4 armored bulldozer to assist with yard work around the house.

If those things can demolish Palestinian homes with the inhabitants still inside in 30 seconds flat, just think what you can do with one of those babies in the suburbs!


the Civilian Conservation Corps play John Lennon’s Free the People (bring on the Lucie)