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John Cory begins: "Rows of white granite markers drop away and then ripple up the far grassy hill and go on forever across flat green lawns. Arlington Cemetery. It looks like a thousand little scabs trying to heal one big wound. War is about holes."

The feet of a dead Libyan man, inside a hospital in the eastern town of Brega, Libya, 03/02/11. (photo: Tara Todras-Whitehill/AP)
The feet of a dead Libyan man, inside a hospital in the eastern town of Brega, Libya, 03/02/11. (photo: Tara Todras-Whitehill/AP)

War Holes

By John Cory, Reader Supported News

20 March 11

Reader Supported News | Perspective


ows of white granite markers drop away and then ripple up the far grassy hill and go on forever across flat green lawns. Arlington Cemetery. It looks like a thousand little scabs trying to heal one big wound.

War is about holes.

Colin Powell planted the seeds for war with a story that had an integrity-hole big enough to drive a WMD Mobile-Lab truck through. Donald Rumsfeld now tills the book-sales circuit as he works to bury truth down the memory-hole. The corporate media cultivated and nurtured the lies of Curveball even as they knew there was doubt. They all dug a deep and deadly hole and now scramble to backfill and cover it over.

War is about holes.

The definition of what is a good or bad war; all the patriotic rationalizations and reasons for war, all the war movies and war stories are nothing more than the dirt we shovel in to fill up the holes. Powell and Rumsfeld and the corporate media are all shoveling as fast as they can right now.

War is about holes.

Foxholes. Bullet holes. Fire-in-the hole! Bomb craters. Caves and graves.

Whether Grunt, Fobbit or REMF, a combat tour is all about holes. Holes you jump into for survival when the shooting starts, and the constant hope and prayer you don't end up in a hole for good.

A Mother often describes the arrival of the uniformed messengers of death on her front porch as the moment she felt as if she had suddenly fallen into a deep, dark hole.

There is a hole in NYC. Some say, that hole started the war. Some say, the war started long before the hole. And there are fights about what should go into or who should be allowed anywhere around that hole. I guess you could call it, a hole controversy.

In the controversy surrounding the creation of the Vietnam Memorial was the issue of the design. Critics said it looked like a long gash in the earth, like a wound or a scar. It was a hole you had to descend into as the black Wall towered over you. And that is exactly what happens when you walk the Memorial. You descend into the hole of war and stare at the names behind your own reflection and the reflection of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. It is a powerful, overwhelming experience. And then you slowly ascend out of the hole of war. Back above ground.

But the names stay there. My friends, John Patrick Lambooy, Ronald Peter Huffman, Craig Pyper Fielding, and Michael Richard Pickles remain forever captured in that black and white granite reflection of eternity. The youngest KIA name was 15 years old, 5 names were 16 years old, 12 were 17 years old, and the oldest KIA name was 63 years old. There are 8 women on the Wall, approximately 38 sets of brothers, and 3 sets of fathers and sons. Since 1997, 88 names have been added as they die from the wounds received during their time in Vietnam. It is literally, an expanding hole of war these many decades later.

Back in 2007, Stephen Dark wrote a piece for the City Weekly in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was titled The Things We Carry, and told the story of the Midvale Boys, as they are known on the Wall, John James Martinez, Frank LeRoy Tafoya, and Tom Gonzales. The young soldiers died within 16 days of each other in 1967. LeRoy Tafoya was killed Nov. 22nd, the fourth anniversary of the JFK assassination. James Martinez died the next day, Thanksgiving. And Tom Gonzales was killed on Dec. 7th, Pearl Harbor Day.

Stephen Dark's story was also about the 2001 pilgrimage of Al Schroeder, a Vietnam combat medic, to the graves of the first five men who died under his care. Tom Gonzales was one of those. Al Schroeder was dealing with his own personal demons.

From the article: "Schroeder was caught off-guard by 'the depth of emotion I would encounter on the other side of the table from these families,' he says. 'Somehow, I believed they had gone on and left it way behind them ...' Instead of encountering memories laid to rest, he found himself 'reopening a sore by bulldozing through a Band-Aid.'"

"With the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, these families and others continually relive their loss with each American death they hear or read about."

When I was a kid, Midvale was a stop on the way to and from Bingham and the Kennecott Copper Mine. Kennecott was the biggest employer around back then and the mine was a premier elementary school field trip. If I remember correctly, Kennecott is the deepest open-pit copper mine in the world. Just not deep enough to bury the sorrow of war.

War is about holes.

It is about holes in the truth. Holes filled with the black, oily ooze of lies. It is about holes at the dinner table, holes for the holidays, and holes in the neighborhood. It's about holes in families. It is about holes - in all of us.

And lest we forget, at the bottom of those holes are millions of eyes staring back at us, uncomprehending eyes of children, civilians and innocents who are the collateral damage of shock-and-awe set free by a MOAB - the Mother Of All Bombs during the Mother Of All Battles or some other deadly device in the spread of peace and freedom through superior firepower.

It is March, the mark of eight years of war in Iraq and a decade in Afghanistan. March is the forward edge of spring, the planting time. And that's what Powell and Rumsfeld and the media are doing. They are desperately backfilling the holes of their war with the seeds of forgetfulness and false memories and hope that the death blossom will cover their garden of sin.

Out in Louisiana, Miz Remy is planting yellow orchid trees and red dogwoods and seedlings of cucumber, artichokes, red pear tomatoes and coriander - beauty and nourishment. She even has Cherokee black bean seeds directly descended from the black beans carried by the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. Seeds of history and remembering.

I guess we forget sometimes that we can use holes to plant life, to plant the seeds of hope or the saplings of peace. Not too deep lest we smother the plantings. Not too shallow or we risk it being easily uprooted. But we must be constant gardeners and prevent the weeds of war from spreading and strangling the roots of peace and hope. We must tend to the garden for all our sakes, and for the sake of those lost in the holes of war, and those who stare back and ask, why.

War is about holes.

Peace is about what we put in those holes.


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+11 # DaveW 2011-03-20 13:13
Poignant and poetic, Cory is the best writer RSN offers. Mankind, I fear, will FOREVER be digging and re-filling "holes." From rocks to rockets, its one of the very few things we've found a majority of people can be counted on to do. Almost as if we're hard wired, deep in our collective memories of conflicts fought by our ancient ancestors. The scenario is often the same even as the technology changes. Nefarious individuals use "rhetorical shovels" to dig mass amounts of holes for their own self-aggrandizi ng purposes and then exploits the violent emotions pent up in human DNA. We ARE a killer species by nature and in order to break that cycle we, humanity as a whole, will have to find the will to purge itself of the cancer Cory so eloquently points out as "diggers of war holes" and replace them with those that understand that even a "hole" seen from the bottom up, can bask in the sunshine of life. The human race is NOT "wholly corrupt" anymore than the "Holy Bible" has directed us away from war and human suffering. But one would not be facing facts if not admitting, at this point in our evolution, humankind as a whole, resembles nothing so much as a decaying piece of Swiss cheese.
+8 # angelfish 2011-03-20 13:22
...when will they EVER learn?
+9 # muffy78 2011-03-20 14:38
John; what a kind, wonderful compassionate man you are. Each day
I pray that we will bring our dear ones home from the wars that never should have been. Now we have those who want us to fight in Libya. I wonder do those people have loved ones? How can anyone want war?
I wish there were more like you in this country. My deepest thanks.
+4 # ejsharp 2011-03-20 15:49
Oil is about drilling deeper and deeper holes.
+5 # in deo veritas 2011-03-20 18:22
Rumsfeld is just another Albert Speer, trying to smooth over his role in our national discgrace. Until he and his partners in war crimes are put away or into the holes that evenually await their arrival, those of us who have a conscience will not find a modicum of relief. God help America.
+5 # in deo veritas 2011-03-20 18:27
We cannot forgive these criminals for what they have done or are still doing behind the scenes. Only God can do that. What we CAN do is recognize the face of evil, NOT forget what has been done, and work to stop it from going any further anywhere we can help stop it, especially here and now in this country. I started to say our country, but it isn't any more is it? America awake!
+2 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-21 04:17
There are two holes in men's souls.. The never filled, hole of greed and the hole left in your soul after taking one.. It never fills either..... formally, Cpl. Pierson,101st Airborne, Vietnam, Son of the American Revolution, Pvt. Shadrack Pierson, Valley Forge and Son of the Cherokee Nation.. Trail of Tears, Nelly Waters, black beans and all. Thank You John......... Peace Brother. ^i^
+3 # Janet Kieninger 2011-03-21 15:37
I have been married to a wonderful man for 42 years, and I have watched him day after day try desperately to climb out of the hole war left in his life. God help humanity if we think war, any war, is the answer. Thank you, John, for courageously speaking truth.
0 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-21 16:47
Quoting Janet Kieninger:
I have been married to a wonderful man for 42 years, and I have watched him day after day try desperately to climb out of the hole war left in his life. God help humanity if we think war, any war, is the answer. Thank you, John, for courageously speaking truth.

God Bless you Janet and your husband.. My wife has been watching me for over 40 years now too.. Now, after 39 years ago in Vietnam, I go to the VA.. I still hate em... But the doctor I have is great.. It's the system that sucks on purpose.. I got scolded out for not coming in sooner.. I figured cause now were all heroes and were no longer Baby Killers.. Even they are Heroes now! I couldn't see going to the same people that put me in some kind of hell and have to go through the same kind of people who sent me there, again and ask for help.... Get the shrapnel out of me you forgot 39 years ago and give me some thing to stay calm, DAMN IT! I'm still mad. They did. No comp. haven't asked. Cpl. Pierson 101st Airborne Vietnam,Fire Base Eagle, etc.
+1 # Glen 2011-03-21 18:07
You are not only mad, Cpl. Pierson, you are mad. Of all people on this forum you should take seniority and offer comments that should be heeded when it comes to the military actions of the U.S. The results of war and military actions can only be related by the folks who have been there.

Thank you for contributing to these forums.
0 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-22 08:54
This has nothing to do with the article Glen,but this is the only way I know to reach you.. Arkansas water The phone number for the House of Representatives is 501-682-6211 or 682-7771. Please leave a message, with your name, and what bill you want voted on how.

Sample message: Vote for HB 1392, 1393, 1394, 1395, 1396, and 1397.

Protect our water, air, and quality of life in rural Arkansas.

Here are the specifics:

HB 1394, to protect water quality in areas affected by gas drilling operations (Rep. Homer Lenderman, Brookland)

HB 1392, for annual inspection of gas wells (Rep. Greg Leding, Fayetteville)

HB 1393, to require bonding for gas well cleanups if drillers go bankrupt (Rep. Kathy Wells, Little Rock)

HB 1395, to protect air quality in areas affected by gas drilling operations (Rep. Leding)

HB 1396, to require full disclosure of chemicals injected into drilling wells (Rep. Wells)

HB 1399, to reduce drilling noise to protect residents next to drilling sites (Rep. Bobby Joe Pierce, Sheridan)

SB 314, to improve surface owners' rights relating to mineral development under their property (Sen. Mary Ann Salmon, N. Little Rock)
+2 # Gary in Midwest 2011-03-21 20:04
Well written, John Cory, indeed. If you look back on the time just following 911, you see a pattern: first, privatization of the military to introduce corporate profit into every aspect of military operations, the main beneficiary of this was Haliburton, the Vice President's "leave of absence"; Secondly, huge tax cuts to ensure massive profits go untaxed and finally, finding a way to a ramp up the profits so high that we have literally witnessed a massive transfer of wealth in this country like no other. And what was the way to do this? War, plain and simple and any old war would do. Isn't it obvious who the military industrial complex really went to war against? The good old American taxpayer. And people wonder when we'll get out? The answer is only when they've choked on their profits which isn't coming any time soon. There are still great-grandchil dren of ours who can pay them off.
0 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-21 21:40
Thanks Glen and Mid West Gary your right. But ya know, some times, you fight fire with fire.. or Pour water on it till it does go out or goes out without using water any way.. Let it burn out... Or mass together so you can be slaughtered easier.. That's why Napoleon had his grand road widen to his Arch of Triumph( why do all these kind of people want statues and things named of themselves before they die? were just gonna take em down) so the cannons could get a clear shot at the unruly mob of poor.. The poor are killed in droves by the rich,yet the rich aren't? They hide better.. ? garyray

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