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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life and what I’ve learned in my eighty-three years on this planet. In my ruminations, I realized that most of my life we have been at war. Remembering the friends and family members of mine killed, I want to state loud and clear: “I am sick and tired of war.” And while I thought about who suffers and dies, I also had to think about who profits from war and who seems to want to sustain it.
There have been wars involving this country almost consistently since the American Revolution. If you want to know about these, click here. For this article, I just want to look at the wars of my lifetime and yours.
Black type gives you information about the war and blue is what was happening in my life at that time to help put things in perspective.
World War II
I was born in 1935. My earliest memories are of World War II. I was five years old when it began and ten when it was over. I was not in school when it began but in the fourth grade when it ended. During this time we moved from Idaho to California and then to Oklahoma.
I remember playing war, dividing up the kids into two groups—the good guys and the bad guys or the Americans against the Germans or Japanese. No one ever wanted to be the enemy, but you can’t have a war without an enemy. We didn’t know why they were the enemy, but we knew they were “bad,” and our soldiers were trying to kill their soldiers. All of us marched, shot pretend guns, and tried to act very official. We saluted each other, and we took prisoners. No one ever won because we were called in for dinner before we had a chance to declare victory. And if we got killed, we jumped up and started playing again, or we ran home in tears.
I remember going to the movies when I was about seven years old and seeing the newsreel about the latest happenings in the war. It was hard to watch. And at the end of the newsreel, a big cannon was turned around and aimed at the audience. It made me afraid every time I saw it, and I remember trying to sink into the theater seat so it wouldn’t hit me. At school, we had air raid drills and got under our desks or went quietly outside in single file. We were told this was to protect us in case the enemy bombed our city. No one questioned it, and we were all scared.
As we drove through the neighborhood, we could see cards with a single star in some windows, and we knew that someone from that family had died in the war. My Uncle Ted was one of them, and I can still hear my grandmother crying inconsolably. I had never seen her cry before, and I never saw her cry again.
We had books of stamps for each one in the family and needed them to get things like shoes and meat. If you didn’t have a stamp, you could not buy the product. I was hard on shoes, and I remember getting everyone else’s stamps. I also remember my mother fretting because she had used all the meat stamps and had to wait until the next book was issued.
We saved our tinfoil in a ball, and my mother turned it into someone to help “the war effort.” As I neared the age of ten I wanted to be a WAC (Women’s Army Corps), and I was upset because I wasn’t old enough.
I remember when the war ended. The church bells rang, and everyone gathered at the church to celebrate the victory. The story of the victory filled the newspapers. Patriotism was high, and I remember feeling proud to be an American. I was too young to understand war. Maybe I never will.
The Korean War
I thought war was over, but it was not. Five years later, in 1950 the Korean War began when North Korea invaded South Korea. It was also called the Korean Conflict, but regardless of whether it was war or a conflict people died and lives were ruined. The war ended in 1953,
I was in highs school and graduated in 1953, During this war I was busy being a teenager. I didn’t know why we were fighting, especially in a country I knew so little about, and my mind was more on boys and finishing highschool than on the war. But my boyfriend joined the Navy and my brother went to the Air Force. By the time they were trained, the war was over and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
And then came the War in Vietnam. This was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that began in November 1955 and ended with the fall of Saigon in April of 1975. It was an ugly war. Few wanted to be a part of it. Why on earth were we there? Many asked that question. The country of Vietnam was devastated and, in many ways, so were we in America. This war brought protesters, the Hippie revolution, and the slogan “Make love, not war.” In the news we saw atrocities we had never seen in war before and we are still learning about some of the things done to civilians and military of both sides. And those of us who had always been staunch patriots began to see the United States as tarnished. The horrors of that war are still being shown on TV and in the movies.
I was in school—Nurses’ Training we called it then—and I was dating a great guy in the Air Force. On Saturday nights a bunch of us went to the USO to square dance with the servicemen who were about our age. There was no talk of the war. I graduated in 1956 and was busy getting my adult life started.
In 1963 I went to Washington, D.C. to get a degree in Nursing. While I was there, the war was in full swing and protesting it came into the forefront. Protests against our military presence in Vietnam were held across the country and were rampant on college campuses. For more about these protests, click here.
By the time the war was over in 1975, I had received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Nursing. I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. My first job in Phoenix was with the College of Nursing at ASU and then in Nursing Administration at a local hospital. During that time I met and married a man who was a state senator and later a U.S. Congressman. Before the war was over, we had two sons, had won a Congressional campaign, and had moved to Washington, D.C. I wrote a book and began speaking to groups across the country.
It was a very long war. By the time it was over we were all sick and tired of war.
World Trade Center
We had a few years of what may or may not have been considered peace. The war dubbed Desert Storm began after the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. It eventually morphed into the War on Terror.
We were attacked and the country will never be the same. The plane that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, changed everything. The country is still reeling and on edge these 18 years later. We have fought in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and the list goes on as the war goes on. It seems to be unending. In the time we have been fighting in the Middle East, I have become a very old lady.
I had been divorced in 1994 during this “time of peace, ” bought a house and started and sold my own company. The day of the bombing I got up early. I had to be at Hospice to see and help care for my fiancé who was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Sitting down with my cup of coffee, I turned on the news just as they were talking about the plane hitting the World Trade Center. I was barely settled when the second plane struck the tower. It was a dark moment and I sat in stunned silence before I could move to call my son. We watched together as those awful events of that morning unfolded on live TV. And as that war morphed into the War on Terror, I have retired, moved twice, lost my house in the 1980 crash, adopted a dog, started this blog, and met the love of my life. At 83 I am hoping to last until this war ends and experience the absence of war, if not peace, even for a short time.
Aren’t you sick and tired of war?
I wonder what life would have been like without war.
Let’s look at the toll:
War Number of servicemembers Non-mortal woundings Battle Deaths
World War II 16,112,566 670,846 405,399
Korean War 5,720,000 103,284 36,574
ietman War 8,744,000 303,644 58,220
Persian Gulf 2,225,000 467 147
Global War on Terror Not available 56,422 10,008 (no up-to-date information available) ________________ ______________ __________________
Totals 32,801,566+ 1,134,663 510 348
Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about those numbers. They are as accurate as I can find but I don’t have confidence in them.
Think instead of the lives ruined and families torn apart—on both sides. Think of the suffering. And think, too, of all the young men we’ve lost who will never hold jobs, start families and be a part of our society. The numbers don’t tell you about those who came home wounded, with legs and/or arms blown off or who suffer PTSD and simply cannot cope with daily life. And it does not reflect the suffering of civilians and military in those countries we fought for or against. The suffering is so great that there are simply no words to describe the anguish. In the 60s, during the Vietnam war, there was a song that asked, “Where have all the flowers gone?” It needs to be heard again.
The figures are hard to capture but the cost is calculated in Trillions. A trillion is a thousand billion. So you’d need to be counting for 31.7 thousand years! To count one trillion dollars, one dollar per second, would take 31,688 years! If you want your mind boggled more by this number click here.
With our national debt passing $22 trillion it seems dangerous to keep spending at this rate. If you have not seen it you should take a look at The National Debt Clock that runs in real time.
Who profits from war?
I Googled that question and was taken to Time Magazine. The story was about the five companies that profited from war. The most recent figures are from 2012. These companies are:
Arm sales 2012: $20.9 billion
Total sales 2012: $31.5 billion
2012 profit: -$332 million
2012 employment: 92,2004.
Arm sales 2012: $22.5 billion
Total sales 2012: $24.4 billion
2012 profit: $1.9 billion
2012 employment: 67,800
BAE Systems (This is a UK company)
Arm sales 2012: $26.9 billion
Total sales 2012: $28.3 billion
2012 profit: $2.6 billion
2012 employment: 88,200
Arm sales 2012: $27.6 billion
Total sales 2012: $81.7 billion
2012 profit: $3.9 billion
Arm sales 2012: $36 billion
Total sales 2012: $47.2 billion
2012 profit: 2.7 billion
2012 employment: 120,000
This is just the “tip of the iceberg. For the list of the top twenty, click here.
Where does the money go?
This is the subject of another article or a book. But the question is, where does the “war-gained money” go?. Below you will see how much these companies spent for lobbying and political campaigns.
The campaign contributions were divided fairly evenly between the Democrat and Republican parties so they have both sides of the aisle covered when a bill involving military spending or action comes for a vote in the House of Representatives or the Senate. And with almost $50 million dollars spent on lobbyists, who wine and dine our lawmakers in order to influence their vote, it would be hard for one of their bills to fail.
Total Military expenditure in 2018 was $1.82 trillion. This only counts the U.S.
These figures only give is a small picture of the spending, contributing and lobbying. I would say that these expenditures give us the best and longest wars that money can buy.
We need to hold our politicians accountable.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of war.
%%focuskw%% | I’m Sick and Tired of War