White Noise by Viet Nam Veteran Daniel J. Shea © 2/4/13
I often fall asleep on the couch watching the idiot tube because as long as it is on I don’t have to think about Viet Nam and all the wars that came after. My wife has set the timer for the TV to turn off, I wish she could set the timer in my head.
As I toss and turn, the white noise from the screen in front of me does nothing to cover up the sounds, I thought I had left in a country on the other side of the world. The noise of helicopters, the smell of diesel fuel, I remember the laughter of marines sitting around drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and other substances, all these things invade my living room. I can hear artillery off in the distant night, the mosquitoes buzz like bullets biting my ears.
I remember a Vietnamese scout being accused of being a traitor for marking trails, they put a gun to his head, a belt around his neck and with this leash made him walk point, all the way back to our camp. I get a cramp in my back and shrug pulling the blanket up over my shoulder, wondering what ever happened to the scout when we got back.
I still hear the screams of those who stepped on mines as we entered a farming village or maybe it was just a small rice paddy hamlet. Some of these thoughts are fuzzy, surreal, images like a collage not in chronological order.
I was a witness to war but I am not stuck just in Viet Nam, the wars that came after pull at my conscience. I learned firsthand from revolutionaries and refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala the stories of the executions, assignations and disappearance of their families. I got to know them and the story of their lives and the horrors they experienced, some were tortured while others witnessed the carnage of others and the genocide of their villages.
I began to question what really happened in Viet Nam, it has been a long a painful journey and it never seems to end. Just when I think my dreams will spare me another haunt, a new war is on the horizon and we are now told we are entering the fray in a preemptive war to stop Weapons of Mass Destruction and to liberate the people of such and such country from evil despots. They told me in my war it was because of the “Domino Theory” to stop the spread of communism and to liberate the people. Yet, we used WMDs, we bombed, and shot everything in sight, we were supposed to be ending their suffering but we did it with more suffering.
My ears begin ringing and it gets louder and louder, I have to get up and pee, I turn the TV back on because now I can’t sleep but as I rest my head on the pillow I fall right back into my head. I have done a lot of reading on wars and the crimes of wars long past, veterans and victims have told me their stories or I have read them in books and journals. History books may not tell lies but they do not tell the whole truth, they edit out our complicity in murder, massacres and genocide. Truth will not allow itself to be covered up, no matter how deep they, the criminals, try to bury her, she will eventually rises from her grave.
Whistleblowers are the real heroes the Pentagon and Washington want to silence, they will resort to threats and even “Murder” I suspect and why not, if it gets out they will be tried for Crimes Against Humanity.
I hear the birds as morning dawns and I awake from the nightmare, one I have become accustomed to, but each morning I ask myself how can I help end these lies, cover ups, and war crimes. Will the real monsters of these horrors ever pay the price for their slaughter of innocent civilians, will they ever be accountable for their hiding the evidence, will their names ever be published?
Yes, at least a new book published by Nick Turse called “Kill Anything That Moves” has dug up the truth and it is a treasure chest of smoking guns. I just finished reading it, you read it and then demand these criminals if they are still alive be brought to justice before the world courts for all to see.
Then maybe then I can turn off the TV and just go to bed and get a good nights’ sleep.