Monday, May 30, 2011

America's wars: "Cold Mountain" to "Ohio"

"You Will Be My Ain True Love" is a song written and performed by Sting and Alison Krauss from the 2003 film Cold Mountain The song was nominated for an Academy Award, a Grammy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.

America's wars:  Struggle for our national conscience
By Mike Marcellino

The last in a Memorial Day series on war in music, words and images

Doc and The Lady perform "Ashokan Farewell" at Cowboy Poetry in Elko, Nevada in 2009.  This haunting and beautiful song, written by Jay Unger in 1982, was the opening music in Ken Burn's remarkable PBS television mini-series "The Civil War."  

(An interesting note:  the annual Cowboy Poetry Festival was in the news this spring because politicians argued over the nation's $14 trillion debt while the festival is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Some Republican leaders want to eliminate federal funding of many of the government's program that help fun the arts, including music and Public Television.  It's a sign we as a nation are in serious trouble when our leaders want to take away our music and other art and humanities programs.)

Cold Mountain, an historical fiction novel, written by Charles Fraiser, won the National Book Award in 1997. It was later adapted for the screen by director Anthony Minghella in the 2003 film "Cold Mountain," starring Jude Law, Nichole Kidman, and Rene Zellwager. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Jude Law, and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Renée Zellweger.  I highly recommend both the book and the film.

The Civil War, 1861-65, counting both Union and Confederate deaths, was the bloodiest war as far as American deaths in our nation's history.  There were a total of 625,000 deaths, more than the 405,399 American troops who died in battle or otherwise in World War II.  The Civil War saved the union and set the wheels turning to abolish slavery, though our nation still struggles to achieve equality.  World War II saved the world from oppression and dictatorship and halted the Nazi slaughter and extermination of 20 million people, including six million Jews.  World War II claimed the lives of 73 million people.  There were many opportunities for nations, including the United States, to stop Hitler and the Nazis but nothing was done.

When I checked with the U. S. Department of Defense data on U. S. military deaths in the nation's wars, they identified the Vietnam War as "the Vietnam Conflict."  As a Vietnam veteran I wish DOC would finally change its terminology and admit Vietnam was a war.  A total of more 58,000 American troops died in that war, in battle and otherwise.  

Search and Destroy, Vietnam War, TET Offensive, 1968, photo by Mike Marcellino

Here is "The Walls of Fire," Mike Marcellino's poetry music ode to the sacrifice of American soldiers form the Civil War to Afghanistan -

"The Walls of Fire" on Reverbnation

The United States could have talked to Ho Chi Minh, leader of the Vietnamese nationalist movement, after World War II but we didn't.  Minh had used much of the American Declaration of Independence in framing the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence.  To learn more about the Vietnam War, including its origins and the history of the Vietnamese people who had defeated the Chinese as well in the 15th Century, read, Fire in the Lake by Frances Fitzgerald in 1972). Instead we bankrolled the French war in Indochina against Minh's Việt Minh defeated the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.  American government officials, including President Eisenhower would late admit that the Vietnam War was about protecting U. S. interests in the raw materials in Southeast Asia.  Eisenhower said if Vietnam fell other counties would fall to communism like dominoes.  Later, President Eisenhower, who as an Army general led the U. S. forces to victory in World War II, warned the American people of the danger of the growing power of the industrial-military complex in the United States.

"My Girls" Vietnam War, 1968 
Photo by Mike Marcellino, copyright 2011

To date the war in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 1,219 American troops in battle and otherwise.  In the various Gulf wars since 9-11 in 2001, we've lost a total of 4,847 troops.  We still have 50,000 American troops in Iraq and 100,000 in Afghanistan.  

Here is the latest U. S. soldier to die in battle in the war in Afghanistan as identified in a news release from the U. S. Department of Defense.  I couldn't help noticing that Army Specialist Adam Hamilton, 22, was from Kent, Ohio, scene of 
May 4,, 1970 shootings of students on the Kent State University campus by Ohio National Guard troops.  The National Guard soldiers were called in to the campus by then Governor James Rhodes in response to student demonstrations against the Vietnam War.  Four students were killed, nine wounded, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release
On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public contact:
or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1

May 29, 2011

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
            Spc. Adam S. Hamilton, 22, of Kent, Ohio, died May 28 in Haji Ruf, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
            For more information, the media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at 785-240-1893, 785-239-3033, or after hours at 785-210-8867.

As Memorial Day 2011 nears and end, I leave you with this powerful song, "Ohio," written by Canadian folk rock  singer Neil Young.  It was probably the best known anti-war song and deals with the shootings at Kent State.  Here's Crosby, Still, Nash and Young and "Ohio."   It reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brothers in arms: a Memorial series

Music video of "Brothers in Arms" 
by Dire Straits, a United Kingdom  rock band

Memorial Day in music, poetry & images  
by Mike Marcellino

Part 2 of a series on Memorial Day in words, music and pictures 

Brothers in Arms

You might wonder why I selected a song by a British rock band as my favorite song relating to the Vietnam War.  Music was exploding in 1967 and 1968 while I served in the U. S. Army in Vietnam.  "Brothers in Army" isn't even about the Vietnam War, not even an American war, not even a big war.  

"Brothers in Arms" was written in 1985 by Dire Straits' leader singer and guitarist Mark Knopfler about the Falkland War between the UK and Argentina.  The war in 1982 was over possession of the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina..  

The casualties were relatively small, the British lost 255 soldiers while Argentina lost 649.  More than 58,000 American soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War along with millions of South Vietnamese, Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops and Vietnamese civilians. But to loved ones of those lost in war, numbers mean nothing.  

I, along with many of my comrades who survived the Vietnam War, adopted "Brothers in Arms."  For me it best expressions my lasting remembrance of my fellow soldiers, especially those who did not come home.  An album of the same name was the number one album in the UK in 1985.  

In 2007 Knopfler rerecorded "Brothers in Arms" with all the proceeds going to British veterans of the Falkland Island War suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Bravo Mark! Some American musicians ought to follow your example and record music to benefit all those U. S. veterans suffering from PTSD, as well as physical wound.  

I invite you to listen to this beautiful and haunting song and the moving artwork on the video.

While I have written poems, or songs, about my experiences in the Vietnam War, I am sharing with you a piece I wrote a few nights ago, "We interrupt this broadcast.."  Reading it you may not think it has to do with Vietnam or Memorial Day, but it does.  But it puts those traumatic events in context, context of the tragedy and inhumanity of war and killing, the choice between war and peace, and the current state of our planet, and direction we are headed in the United States and around the world.  The context is not good and it doesn't look promising.  

We have more wars, environmental degradation, violence in our community, lack of opportunity for the poor and middle class for education, jobs and health care, increasing poverty, especially among children and injustice.  More and more Americans, whether conservative or liberal, have given up on politics and our leaders.  This is understandable considering the vast majority of our elected officials, especially at the national level, are just interested in being reelected and their own selfish interests and beliefs.

We interrupt this broadcast

We interrupt this broadcast
by Mike Marcellino

It's killing us -
You and Me.

What happened to our world?
Are our leader’s watchin 
too much TV?
Using it
against you and me?

It's killing us -
You and Me

More and more
between six and eight.
Arctic's melting,away
dead pools in the oceans. 
Magnetic north 
be in Russia soon.
Mass extinction
by humans, they say.

It's killing us -
You and Me

Sounds like a cheer
but they're no leaders 
No Martin, 
John, Bobby
no Gandhi
or Che. 

I heard 
crossing the campus -
they shot Kennedy.
For days we sat glued to TV.
We could still remember
Howdy Doody
and Mama.

It's killing us, -
You and Me

Was sixty-nine
our last rally?
A million or more 
against war
that cold, sunny day in DC.

Next May in Ohio
students shot dead
sticking flowers in rifles,
going to class at Kent State.
By the end of Vietnam
we lost 58,000 
and now I wonder 
where they are  
and everyone is 
on Memorial Day.

It's killing us -
You and Me.

Shoot the fray
capture words
get the story
on the border
in wooded jungles,
carry your wounds 
to candlelight vigils.

It's killing us -
You and Me.

Magnetic fields 
before 9-11.
Conspiracy theories
towers to heaven.
The revolution''s begun
in the streets of Jordan,
in the clouds, 
without leaders.

It's killing us -
You and Me.

Where is Zapata?
We're putting the Civil War
in the wrong century.

Get up!
Apocalypse Now's on TV.

We interrupt this broadcast 
to bring you the news.
The Revolution has begun.
If you don't believe it
check out YouTube
and Facebook 
and turn off the TV.

Copyright 2011 by Mike Marcellino

Fortunate Son
A music video of another of my favorite Vietnam War songs, "Fortunate Son," written by American rock singer John Fogerty and recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969.  

It is #99 of Rollings Stone's 500 Greatest Songs.  I share the lyrics because they are so true in that the burden of fighting the Vietnam War, and all wars for that matter, was on the poor and working class. (This was especially true in the Vietnam War in that students in college could be deferred from serving as long as they were in school.) 

"Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival with some interesting Vietnam War images, produced by Hard Rain Productions

Finally, here is my poetry song, "The Walls of Fire" an ode to American soldiers' sacrifice from the Civil War to Afghanistan. (Just click on the link to access the music player, or go to the player at the top of the blog.)
To listen to "The Walls of Fire" just click on this link to my Facebook Musician/Band page.  You're welcome to share our music and like our band page!)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

'Waltzin Matilda' tragic saga of the universial soldier

Search and Destroy, Vietnam War, TET Offensive, 1968
photo by Mike Marcellino, copyright 2011

Make 'memorial day' universal and end the wars
by Mike Marcellno

First part of a series on Memorial Day

Memorial Day in America is five days away.  All of us should observe its meaning in some way, lasting all year round.  Maybe there should also be a universal Memorial Day that every nation observes.

Sometimes, some of the best stories happen by accident.  Today, as I thought of a song I wrote and recorded, "The Walls of Fire," an ode to American soldiers' sacrifice from the Civil War to Afghanistan, I went on You Tube to take a break.  Listening to one of my favorite bands, The Clash, do "I Fought the Law and the Law Won," music that helps me shake loose, up popped on the screen  "No Man's Land (Berlin, Germany).

"The Walls of Fire" on Reverbnation

Well, "No Man's Land" is a song about the carnage in World War I, written and sung by Eric Bogle, a Scottish folk singer songwriter who immigrated to Australia. I was surprised that Bogle was joined in singing the song by a German singer.  I have not yet discovered his name.

You see and hear the senseless killing, dying, slaughter, suffering in the music and music videos I will share with you from today through Memorial Day in America, Monday, May 30th.  I will also try and discover with your help the other "Memorial Days" in countries around the world.

And, yes, I will suggest that the people of the world create a universal day to honor those who sacrificed their lives, but also to see in our hearts and minds that this destruction of humanity should be ended.  Only the people of the world can do it.  Why?  Because it is the people of the world, not the leaders, who die in these wars.  I know that first hand as a Vietnam veteran.  I never forget the 58,000 American troops killed in Vietnam along with millions of Vietnamese.

As a student of history, a military veteran and someone who will never give up the idea that peace is possible, I wrote, recorded and perform on occasion, "The Walls of Fire."

I will share "No Man's Land" in a later segment of this series, but first here is another song written by Eric Bogle, "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda (1972)," even better known and often covered, by the likes of Joan Baez, among others.  The song is about the slaughter of Australian troops trying to storm the battlements of the Turkish army in World War I in Gallipoli, also the title of an award winning Australian film, directed by Peter Weir in 1981, starring Mel Gibson, Mark Lee and Bill Kerr.  I highly recommend it.  It won best film award by the Australian Film Institute, was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign film and should have won an Oscar.

At Gallipoli, in this single campaign, battle deaths on both sides totaled a staggering 130,784.

Some people viewed the song as relating to the Vietnam War, which ended after 10 years of fighting in 1975 (U. S. combat forces pulled out in 1973.)

"Waltzing Matilda" is an old bush ballad known as Australia's  unofficial national anthem.  It was written in 1895 by poet and nationalist Banjo Patterson.

Here is Eric's version of "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda."  The video is moving and seems to have been done by a Canadian as there are Canadian troops shown near the end.  And, if you like, you may listen to "The Walls of Fire" in the music player on top of this page and visit our avant-garde poetry music band on ReverbNation.  Our band yesterday reached #46 among the Hot Folk Artists in the world, to a great extent due to the song of American soldiers in wars for the past 150 years, as we mark the anniversary of bloodiest of all our wars, the Civil War, brother fighting against brother.  Of course, if we are going to have peace we must end the inhumanity that breeds war.


"And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" by Eric Bogle 
Eric, 66, performed this spring at the Australian Folk Festival.

As I believe that music makes the world go round, music of war and peace, sacrifice and memorial days will be motivation for words and actions.

As I dearly love the music of Joan Baez and respect her activism for peace and justice, here is her version of "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda."  In 1995 I had the pleasure to chat with her on a beautiful evening outdoors at the Cuyahoga Valley Folk Festival south of Cleveland.  I've included a photo I took of a young girl in the Vietnam War, which I gave to Baez on that occasion.  I welcomed her to Cleveland on behalf of the city as I was then an aide to the mayor.

"And the Band Waltzing Matilda" song by Joan Baez

"Oriental River" Vietnam War, 1968
photo by Mike Marcellino, copyright 2011