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The Festivals of Mars

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Just the other day, the United States concluded the third of the annual American Festivals of Mars — Veteran's Day. Taken together with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, these holy days are dedicated to the celebration of massive death and widespread destruction. These holy days are intended to foster support for the continued conduct of hostile takeovers of foreign lands for the benefit of those priests of profitable war and who remain above the actual level of impoverishment enjoyed by the majority.

The idea that war is merely the enforcement of international business deals by other means is not new. It was openly discussed many years ago by those opposed to America adopting imperialism and by someone who knew well about its practice from the inside. This notion that Military Might Makes Good Business has often been the basis for America's wars throughout our history, beginning with our Revolution, continuing with the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, and being a little-understood reason for the Civil War. 623,026 men died fighting over the notion that the business interests of a minority of the nation should hold sway over the aspirations of the majority. [This and all subsequent tallies of American war dead come from the U.S. Army Military History Institute.]

This notion that a minority could dictate to a majority was frankly the very reason our national forebears rebelled against the British Crown. Colonial business interests – a group much smaller than the established Imperial commercial mainstream which competed against them – demanded rights out of proportion to their size when measured against those of the entire Empire, and would not take no for an answer. Liberty from colonial status satisfied some, while the remainder again pressed for rights and privileges beyond their due from their new countrymen. Over 600,000 American men later paid the costs of settling that internecine disagreement.

Native Americans became the next conquest of profitable mercantilism over national sovereignty, and then it became the turn of the corrupt and decaying Spanish Empire. Both lost rights to the vast majority of their property and other assets to the New World Orderers. In the greater scheme of things, these were easy conquests for the American military machine. Fewer than 4000 American men died fighting these wars, which could hardly be considered harbingers of the bloody future awaiting the US in the 20th century.

Outside of a few losses suffered in the early years of the 20th century defending the territorial rights of colonialists in Asia, and defending the Monroe Doctrine against nationalist sentiment in countries surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, there was no idea that American expansionism was going to collide with ambitions of another fledgling empire – Germany – who had to be disgruntled about the upstart plebeian Yankees having a larger colonial conglomeration than did the Imperial German House of Hohenzollern. One of the motives for Germany to get involved in the arms race which culminated in millions dying in seas of mud and blood was to realize those ambitions and rectify a perceived slight by the other royal houses of Europe. 116,708 Americans died protecting the colonial markets of these other royal houses from German conquest.

In the end, the sacrifice of so many went for naught as a newer form of German elitism, meticulously copied by the sons of the Samurai, emerged to again attempt to create new colonial empires to compete with those of the old. It took the lives of 407,316 Americans to stop this effort, and about another 100,000 who died later as the victors squabbled over the spoils of that success. The millions of uninvolved civilians who perished through these muscular tussles of commercial hustlers are of no consequence to the bottom line. They were just another cost of doing business. Collateral damage, as it were.

I related all of this because I want to introduce you to a few of these men who paid the ultimate price in defense of international commerce. Each holds a special distinction that is theirs alone. It might make it easier to understand what I'm about to say if our war dead were more than mere nameless statistics.

First, meet Private John J. Williams of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Private Williams was killed at the Battle at Palmito Ranch at the end of the Civil War, and is deemed by Henry I. Kurtz, author of "Last Battle of the War" as published in Civil War Times Illustrated of April 1962 (Vol. I, No. 1) to be the last Union casualty of that war. He died defending Northern economic powers from Southern economic and political aggression by being a part of the Northern military aggression intended to put the South in its proper place as industrial customer once and for all.

Next, meet US soldier Henry Gunther of Baltimore, who was a member of the American Expeditionary Force in the Argonne region of France. He was one of thousands of troops sent into battle on November 11, 1918 by generals who were well aware that the end of the war had been declared effective as of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. American author Joseph E Persico did research which indicated that the actions of these generals on the final day of WWI caused nearly 11,000 casualties, a figure larger than those suffered during the first day of the invasion of Normandy in 1944. One such general, General Wright of the 89th American Division, caused 300 American soldiers to become casualties on that day just to take the town of Stenay so that he could take a bath.

So why is Henry Gunther special? He was killed at 10:59 — one minute before the Armistice went into effect, making him the last known person to die in WWI, fought to defend British, French, and Belgian colonialism from the competition of German colonialism.

Now meet another dead American soldier, Sergeant Anthony Marchione. On August 18, 1945, He was aboard a B-32 Dominator bomber flying a reconnaissance mission to inspect and photograph Tokyo-area target damage. Despite a cease-fire having been initiated three days earlier, numerous Japanese fighters scrambled to attack this mission, severely damaging the bomber – and killing Marchione. He is the last American on active duty to die due to enemy attack in WWII defending Asia from Japanese colonial ambitions.

The final dead heroes presented for your edification are Marines Charles McMahon and Darwin Lee Judge, who were assigned to the security detail of the Defense Attache Office at Tan Son Nhut Airport in Saigon. They were killed by North Vietnamese rockets during the final assault to capture the capital of South Vietnam. Essentially their deaths marked the end of the American effort to prevent Communism from establishing factories for the workers to make Nike shoes at capitalist wages. And people of the world look down on popular capitalism!

I would have introduced you to more such dead heroes, but I could find nothing on the last American casualty of the Spanish-American War, and the other wars involving the US tend to be ongoing affairs with the last casualty yet to be determined. But I think I made my point with these five.

During the Festivals of Mars, we are constantly reminded that these men, and the hundreds of thousands of their fellow deceased, died defending freedom and democracy. I'm sure that when these people died, they also thought so. For a while, it may well have been true. But I have to ask what these dead heroes would think of what their nation has become since, and if they continue to believe that their deaths in defense of this neo-reality are justified.

There are many reasons to question why the standard boilerplate speeches offered during the Festivals of Mars are a pack of lies not worth shedding one more drop of blood in their expensive defense. (It would be much cheaper to buy off the "enemy" like Blackwater seems to have done in Iraq.) The American economy is ailing and cannot afford to continue the bear the burden, and those who toil to provide the spoils from which war monies are drawn are suffering greatly while those who are already wealthy and least likely to be involved with militarily defending American commercial prospects benefit lavishly and avoid paying their share of the war freight.

To begin with one excellent reason why there should be disbelief, those who fight to defend such greed and abuse are tossed aside once their service is done. 130,000 veterans are homeless, and twice that many join them temporarily each year. CBS News reports over 6,000 US military veterans are committing suicide every year, and they also report that returning veterans are not receiving proper care for PTSD and other ailments, which could lead to additional needless deaths in those who can do no more. Such outrages – and more – led Meg White of BuzzFlash to declare that "If We Cannot Afford to Care for Veterans, We Cannot Afford to Be at War".

But most men don't go to war only for what they can get out of it after their service ends. They go to defend their homes and families. Would they still go to war to defend those who abuse their women and children while they are away on active duty? What would they tell the generals who push them forward to engage and defeat an enemy if they knew that they may be losing their homes to unscrupulous business practices intended to benefit only the well-connected? Who could stand up to them and order them back to the front if they knew that their women and children were being slammed into poverty while they are away? Would they continue to fight for those who would enslave their women and children for profit if they could get away with it? Would they continue to wage war for those who may be driving military families to take drastic measure to escape the pressure?

And what of the traditional American values of freedom and liberty? Do they believe in fighting to defend illegal acts and war crimes? To promote a healthy environment for totalitarianism to develop and grow in their country? To allow those who shower scorn and disdain upon our Constitutional liberties? Were these not some of the reasons our dead heroes are dead? As I understand our national history, they were.

So stop rubbing salt into the nation's wounds three times a year by pretending that those who are leading our nation into new wars are doing so to protect and defend the nation. Those who died in the previous wars would probably disagree with that assertion. But don't take my word for it. Ask those who died.

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  • Irene Wagner

    I had to click on Realist’s name and go to his author’s page to be able to access this article. Trouble might be the HTML in the last para.

  • I’ve fixed those errors now, Irene, so hopefully you won’t have any more problems.

  • Irene Wagner

    For a day or so after your last comment, this article could be accessed from the Politics page.

    Something changed since then, though, because now, when one is on the Politics page and clicks on the link to this article, one is brought to the Administrative Login Page. (I took a different route.)

  • Roger B

    USA citizens LOVE war! We go on and on about it: how glorious our Mission is, how noble the soldiers.

    Our appetite was really whetted by WW2, which we saw as proof of our virtue, though mostly it was luck and one or two good moves.

    Since then, in spite of our miserable win/lose record we have found plenty of material for the good movies and books that our wars produce.

    And that’s the bottom line, isn’t it? Did we sell the tickets and fill the movie theater seats?