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On guilt or survivors guilt

shooter93shooter93 Member Posts: 322 ✭✭✭
I've read a number of the posts here and i'm not sure this is of any interest to anyone but in was a very meaningful moment in my life. As way of a bit of background.... I was around for the lottery draft and still believe it's a good thing. My family came to this country in 1736 and has always had someone from each generation that served in the military. I shoot quite a bit and hang out at the local gunsmith's shop...a second home of you will....one day a couple of younger lads wre in as well as 5 of us from my generation. On was in a wheelchair...having lost the use of his legs in Veitnam...the others healthy and the short version of the talk went like this....
One fellow said....I got a student deferment...I've always wondered why I didn't have to go
The next said...My number was 26 in the draft so I went to see about enlistment...they put me in a Reserve unit...I've always wondered why me when so many others had too go....
The next said....I went...served on an Aircraft carrier and never really saw combat....I've always wondered why I was so lucky when so many others went to the badlands...
The next said...I went and man did I get stuck in the crap I often wondered if I would make it back. When I did get back I started wondering....why did i come home when so many didn't...I wasn't even hurt...he looked at the other fellow and said...christ man you lost your legs....why not me...
The last fellow said...yeah...I lost my legs....but Jim, someone we all knew by the way....didn't get back...his name is on the wall....Why not me instead of him?
5 men....the whole gambit of things that could happen to people at that time in our countries history. All in the same room....all at the same time. Everyone with a different guilt about their luck of the draw. All so sorry to have lost people they knew. All men who love their country dearly.
The point of all this?...Hell...I'm not sure. I don't know why the events shook out the way they did either. I don't know why we all feel the guilt we do for simple luck of the draw. I do know there seems to be no real answer, it will haunt us till we perish. I do know they all love and cherish this country and the people who defend her whether it's a Special Op's guy in country or a Clerk Typist in Iowa.
My thanks for the place to post

Comments

  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 13,043
    edited November -1
    Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld had two apposite yet apparently contradictory aphorisms that I think apply here:

    We cannot help but share in the vicissitudes of others;

    and

    There is something about the misfortunes of others that is not altogether unpleasing to us.

    Not oddly, I think most of us who made it back would have experienced the truth of both these statements.
  • Ray BRay B Member Posts: 11,822
    edited November -1
    I do know this: if the situation were reversed and I was the one in the body bag, I would not want the member for who's survival I paid the price with my life, to waste that gift of his life worrying about such things. I would want him to live his life to the fullest. I'm sure that Pvt Fletcher, L/Cpl Kandell and the others expect that of me. So I have sought to accept their gift and use it as wisely as possible.
  • amsptcdsamsptcds Member Posts: 679
    edited November -1
    There probably isn't anything contradictory with the idea of empathizing with another's misfortune while at the same time being glad it wasn't you. Those ideas are logically compatible, but seemingly not compatible at the level of our sentiments and moral values.

    It is probably that emotional attachment that makes us feel bad about our feelings. "Why him, not me?" Its what we do. Somewhat innate.
  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 13,043
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by amsptcds
    There probably isn't anything contradictory with the idea of empathizing with another's misfortune while at the same time being glad it wasn't you. Those ideas are logically compatible, but seemingly not compatible at the level of our sentiments and moral values.

    It is probably that emotional attachment that makes us feel bad about our feelings. "Why him, not me?" Its what we do. Somewhat innate.

    I'm afraid you misread my post. I was not referring to the logical incompatibility or inconsistency of human thought or emotion, but rather that despite their truistic nature, aphorisms often express contradictory sentiments. Fact is, the truth of either of these aphorisms is determined only by uptake (agreement) on the part of the reader, not on their truth in fact; if you do not have experience with which to agree to what is stated, their truistic nature dissolves.
  • Henry0ReillyHenry0Reilly Member Posts: 10,678 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    For whatever it's worth, it's not just Vietnam. I was talking with Al, the bar manager of our VFW, one day in the Legion. He was telling me about his service in Korea.

    There was a special muster of everyone six feet tall or taller to choose an honor guard for Patton. Al was sent to this muster. While he was away from his unit, the man who replaced him on the BAR was killed. He felt really guilty about that.

    One of the first movies I ever saw in a theater was The Green Berets. US involvement in Vietnam ended when I was still in high school and as stupid as it sounds, I felt guilty about not going.

    In the thread on wannabes I stated my hypothesis that it is this same guilt that drives some to claim they went when they did not.

    [/ramble]
    I used to recruit for the NRA until they sold us down the river (again!) in Heller v. DC. See my auctions (if any) under username henryreilly
  • amsptcdsamsptcds Member Posts: 679
    edited November -1
    I'm afraid you misread my post. I was not referring to the logical incompatibility or inconsistency of human thought or emotion, but rather that despite their truistic nature, aphorisms often express contradictory sentiments. Fact is, the truth of either of these aphorisms is determined only by uptake (agreement) on the part of the reader, not on their truth in fact; if you do not have experience with which to agree to what is stated, their truistic nature dissolves.

    [/quote]
    yeah, I think you're right about that.

    I was only pointing out that the apparent contradictory sense is easily resolved, and possibly it's source. Its just a thought and not necessarily a conclusion.

    I'm not sure about truisms in those statements, but I can buy casual observations. More often than not, proposition pairs like those have a tendency to introduce contrary, but not usually contradictory thought. One doesn't negate the other. But you would be right to note that most people don't notice that and think that they are contradictory instead of simply contrary. ("apparent" contradiction.)

    I guess that, by my own example, it seems it is easy to pick up on what seems like a contrariness, and I'm thinking that it probably belongs in the realm of first thought, like any other perception has a causal effect on an impression in the mind.

    But, in any event, for a lot of people, it isn't easily resolved. They torture themselves with it seemingly forever. I think its sad and worthy of our empathy to some degree at least.
  • amsptcdsamsptcds Member Posts: 679
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Henry0Reilly
    For whatever it's worth, it's not just Vietnam. I was talking with Al, the bar manager of our VFW, one day in the Legion. He was telling me about his service in Korea.

    There was a special muster of everyone six feet tall or taller to choose an honor guard for Patton. Al was sent to this muster. While he was away from his unit, the man who replaced him on the BAR was killed. He felt really guilty about that.

    One of the first movies I ever saw in a theater was The Green Berets. US involvement in Vietnam ended when I was still in high school and as stupid as it sounds, I felt guilty about not going.

    In the thread on wannabes I stated my hypothesis that it is this same guilt that drives some to claim they went when they did not.

    [/ramble]




    I get ya. I was thinking that since it is so common, it must have some sort of either natural or naturalized quality to that response. I wonder if it is cultural or just plain human.
  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 13,043
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by amsptcds
    I get ya. I was thinking that since it is so common, it must have some sort of either natural or naturalized quality to that response. I wonder if it is cultural or just plain human.

    Oddly, this is a post-80's phenomenon. There was a very long stretch between the 60's and Rambo when being a Vietnam Vet was definitely uncool. Then suddenly it was (to a certain element, anyway). I know that in the 70's, being a Vietnam Vet was for me a personal thing; it seldom came up, and I seldom mentioned it. Then in the 80's, it seemed that every white male around my age that I met was either a former SEAL or Green Beret with ten Purple Hearts and awaiting word on their MOH.
  • frousseaufrousseau Member Posts: 33 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I served in Vietnam (completing a Career of 26 years) and I found no one that called me any names or said anything about the service to my Country. A friend had been OSS (Pre-CIA) in the Philippines who met Marcos while he was a Guerrilla as they waited for MacArther to return to the Philippines. When Marcos became President of the Philippines, he came to this country to visit President Johnson, he invited some of former OSS who fought with him, to join his group.There was a group of Vietnam Protestors at the airport in Los Angeles where he met his former Commrades. He leaned over to one and said in his ear; "Just a couple of us Old Guerrilla's could take care of those fools. Eh!"
  • amsptcdsamsptcds Member Posts: 679
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by DancesWithSheep
    quote:Originally posted by amsptcds
    I get ya. I was thinking that since it is so common, it must have some sort of either natural or naturalized quality to that response. I wonder if it is cultural or just plain human.

    Oddly, this is a post-80's phenomenon. There was a very long stretch between the 60's and Rambo when being a Vietnam Vet was definitely uncool. Then suddenly it was (to a certain element, anyway). I know that in the 70's, being a Vietnam Vet was for me a personal thing; it seldom came up, and I seldom mentioned it. Then in the 80's, it seemed that every white male around my age that I met was either a former SEAL or Green Beret with ten Purple Hearts and awaiting word on their MOH.


    Yeah, Roger on THAT! Then you meet that guys that got hurt on the tent stakes when incoming was pummeling the compound... that's a belly laugh, isn't it? They get their hearts because of the synchronity with an attack. Oh well. hehehe... Gotta laugh.

    There was a while in the marine corps stretching over about two years that if you were even so much as a "Vietnam Era" vet, you could do no good. Those were foul years. (mid to late 80's, I think) It took HQMC that long to catch on to it and put a stop to it. Some jerk at OCS (fergit what we called it) was responsible for it at the head of his classroom.

    but.. we're digressing from the main topic.

    I just hope they get the notion to renew project transition with these new folks and address this issue along with the others. Those folks need it and deserve it.
  • DancesWithSheepDancesWithSheep Member Posts: 13,043
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by amsptcds
    There was a while in the marine corps stretching over about two years that if you were even so much as a "Vietnam Era" vet, you could do no good. Those were foul years. (mid to late 80's, I think) It took HQMC that long to catch on to it and put a stop to it.

    I think it started even earlier than that. After my six years active service, I applied for and was accepted for the Marine Corps PLC program as a senior in college (the one shot version, not the two summers deal). I was scheduled for the May, 1972 class. In March, I got a letter from CMC stating that the Marine Corps was no longer accepting former Vietnam Veteran enlisteds into the program due to high attrition rate. Semper Fi.
  • amsptcdsamsptcds Member Posts: 679
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by DancesWithSheep
    quote:Originally posted by amsptcds
    There was a while in the marine corps stretching over about two years that if you were even so much as a "Vietnam Era" vet, you could do no good. Those were foul years. (mid to late 80's, I think) It took HQMC that long to catch on to it and put a stop to it.

    I think it started even earlier than that. After my six years active service, I applied for and was accepted for the Marine Corps PLC program as a senior in college (the one shot version, not the two summers deal). I was scheduled for the May, 1972 class. In March, I got a letter from CMC stating that the Marine Corps was no longer accepting former Vietnam Veteran enlisteds into the program due to high attrition rate. Semper Fi.


    Wow.. not good.

    I always have maintained that having a "career" in the Marine Corps was like being married to a psychogripe. or at min, like having an unfaithful wife. Well its survivable anyway. (pardon my lowlife phraseology please)

    I had broken time of one year. I never really recovered from that "stigma". Too much "political importance" and I'm not really one of those guys. I never carried extra kleenex with me to get the brown off my nose with. I'm sure I paid a price for that, but I have my integrity, one of the few things I own. I don't see sound reasoning behind politiciking about phantasmic things that are relatively unimportant, even though the crowd thinks they are. Too many people get hurt without a reason.

    I think that POSSIBLY the nam war protestors were right to protest the war, but wrong to treat everyone so badly. I got called a baby killer right out of bootcamp in an airport???? (remember how it was mandatory to wear your uniform all the time?)

    But this new breed over in Iraq, will gratefully not suffer that. I'm happy that the general will of our people "sees" the silliness in blaming the troops for doing their honorable duty like both you and I did under different circumstances. (and millions of other people throughout the decades too)

    Maybe this time, we can address their needs instead, and do it properly. Hell, they work for friggin peanuts... put their lives on the line.

    Take care Dances,
    Scott
  • Flyin_PaulieFlyin_Paulie Member Posts: 857 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by DancesWithSheep
    quote:Originally posted by amsptcds
    I get ya. I was thinking that since it is so common, it must have some sort of either natural or naturalized quality to that response. I wonder if it is cultural or just plain human.

    Oddly, this is a post-80's phenomenon. There was a very long stretch between the 60's and Rambo when being a Vietnam Vet was definitely uncool. Then suddenly it was (to a certain element, anyway). I know that in the 70's, being a Vietnam Vet was for me a personal thing; it seldom came up, and I seldom mentioned it. Then in the 80's, it seemed that every white male around my age that I met was either a former SEAL or Green Beret with ten Purple Hearts and awaiting word on their MOH.
    I agree. I got out of the Navy in 1968 after a little over 9 years service. While I'm appreaciative of the people now serving, it recently occured to me that the treatment(by the American public) of military people, now and then, differs greatly. The same type of young people serving, but the different way the conflicts were portrayed to the American people. We, who were there, will have to have the satisfaction of knowing how it was for us and that's all we are going to get. I am not whining about his, just making an observation.[:)]
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