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.