The horrors of war are known only to those who have been there. The suffering, of course, extends to all the families of those who have. The courage, the bravery, as well as the terror, the breakdowns, are all ineffable. “It is the worst thing that can happen,” said my father, a WWII combat veteran.
It may be the worst thing, but, it certainly continues to happen. It is advocated as a solution, a defense, or a ‘justified’ aggression. In the comprehension of time and history, it is sometimes difficult to understand the function of war. We can observe the results. We can tabulate the effects. The causes that lead to war, however, can often be interpreted, and thus no lesson is learned, and even prevention is left to speculation.
We know that today’s American armed forces are the most unusual breed of military ever evolved. Not only are they trained in war, but also in compassion. They are trained to fight, but not to win. They fight to deliver others from suffering.
Indeed, war is not war as before. Preemptive war, in defense, in anticipation of attack, is the common justification today.
But the real novelty of it all is the alienation of people from their own governments. Governments go to war against each other, when the the actual people–whom these same governments are said to represent–do not hold visceral animosities toward each other at all. Governments have become averse to their own people, and as a result, strange wars develop.
Patriots are the prized possessions of any people, any country. Americans modern military is not only patriotic, but humane beyond any precedent in history. Modern American soldiers are missionaries. They go to deliver people from evil governments, to establish freedom, to uplift human living standards. Modern American military does not attempt to destroy, but to build. That is the new way. America’s soldiers do not go to win a war, to defeat a country, to destroy a people.
This is remarkable, and difficult to appreciate, really. It is an entirely new concept of military function. Since WWII, war is a different kind of function. War is no longer declared. War is not a legal act. War is not recognized as a nation to nation encounter. One country does not declare war on another country.
For that matter, I don’t know that war was ever formally declared on American Indians. Treaties were made with Indians, since the 17th century, through the late 19th century. (Tragically, modern “pop-up” casino groups try to cash in on that blood-bought status of historical tribes.) And yet, the legality of treaties was not preceded by official declarations of war against the Sioux nation, the Comanche nation, or even the eastern tribes earlier. Treaties without declarations of war; peace agreements, without recognizing Indian peoples as actual nations; these are rather unique historical circumstances.
Nevertheless, the Indian’s love of the land, his affinity with the earth–this earth, not the earth in Timbuktu, has generated more American veterans among Indians than among any other group, proportionately. I personally take profound pride in that spirit. I know Comanche people honor our veterans faithfully. We have many to honor. I am always thrilled in my soul whenever I see Comanches carry Old Glory into the dance arena. Indians may have no use for American politics, and a conscious disrelish for party-ism, but, all Indians know the power behind that flag. They know what that flag represents in the way of military strength. As true warriors, they honor that strength. The American flag is the mascot Indians carry for America. (And yes, Comanches love things that flow in the wind, but, we also honor strength.)
There are some people who seem to discredit Indian patriotism, like Al Carroll, in his book Medicine Bags and Dog Tags (2008). When Lori Piestewa (Hopi), the first female Indian combatant to die in battle, was praised by all Americans, Carroll decided to publish the idea that “Lori joined up to support her children as an unwed mother” (p.217), and to decry the very idea that Indians would ever support any American war. Of course, Carroll’s text appears deeply anti-American in spirit, so that the whole point is to divorce Indian warrior traditions from American patriotism. He would not have Indians be seen as patriots–a significant challenge, given the number of American Indian veterans and American Indian flag waving. The book was published apparently without peer review, and there are no comments or commendations concomitant. It is Carroll’s personal notes and interpretations about American Indians, really. I for one do not believe it qualifies as a scholarly work, albeit it was published by a university press. The thesis, again, is the idea that Indians are not patriotic, and that no Indian ever wears the American military uniform or raises the American flag with any notion of affection for the United States of America. I believe this is a fair assessment of the text. Others may disagree.
In The Tradition Of The Warrior, a video about Comanche Indian veterans. To purchase the video, contact BadEagle.com through the “contact” button above.
I myself, being an American Indian patriot (though not a veteran), was the subject of many pages in Carroll’s text, precisely because of my position, and precisely because it is the antithesis of his thesis. In the process of attempting to contradict my published positions, Carroll also claimed, repeatedly (in the book as well as on his illegally named web site, “DavidYeagley.org,”) that I am not Comanche, that I was not the son of my own mother, etc. His collaborator, Brent M. Davids claims that Bad Eagle never existed! This is what my opponents decided was the best way to discredit me, and to dispense with the idea that Indians could possibly be conservative, Republican, American patriots. For their word, of course, I have sued them, and others. The results are pending.
Of course, I have also learned by experience that, despite my familiarity with major conservative media figures in the country, such professional conservatives really don’t care what Indians think at all. They are content to see the Indian as a loser, as a dependent, as representative of everything liberal. While the conservative Great Whites fawn and blather over their Negro conservatives, they really couldn’t care less about Indians.
I’m proud! This is quite complimentary! Indians are psychologically independent. We don’t do what we do, or think what we think, because we want to belong to some political movement in American society, or because we want White approbation. Let the Great Whites have their beloved and precious Negro, and leave the Indian alone. That is the reality of the situation.
I am a conservative, Republican, American Indian patriot because I believe this is the best, most reasonable, and most honest and honorable position for an American Indian to take. Indians are the fathers of this country, step-fathers, but fathers. This country is our responsibility. This is our only honorable course. We don’t expect rewards from our step-children. We might do with some respect, but, I dare say, we have that–if but subconsciously or subliminally, from their deepest notions of nationhood.
America does not pity the Indian, as it pities the Negro. This is grand. I am satisfied. I just want Indians to be proud of the country, and invest in the effort to preserve it. It is our empirical host now, and it is our responsibility to care for it. No other people but the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant would have left us standing, let alone with land. The history of tragedy should never eclipse the honesty of present reality.
American Indian veterans do fight for freedom, as well as the glory of the land.
So, a most honorable Veterans Day to all–veterans especially, and to all patriots.