While little school children waved flags and put on militaristic Veterans Day programs, Vietnam Veterans continued to die of Agent Orange poisoning at an alarming rate. Here in Rolla (and in many other communities) a small group of Vietnam Veterans and their friends and families released over one thousand orange balloons in memory of those who have died of Agent Orange exposure. This nationwide event was inspired by Rolla's Becky Gibbs whose husband, Bill, died recently of Agent Orange poisoning that he contracted while serving in the Navy in Vietnam.
Soldiers are expendable. They always have been and always will be, especially since generals tired of leading their troops into battle and opted for air-conditioned bunkers and war-rooms from which they could fight safely and comfortably.
During the Vietnam War, our troops were ordered to handle some of the most toxic chemicals known to man and poison the food and water supply of entire countries. Agent Orange contains dioxin which causes developmental disorders, malformed fetuses such as those pictured in the placard above, and a host of other diseases. The Pentagon told our troops that Agent Orange wouldn't hurt them; but that was a lie and they knew it. The Pentagon and the Veterans Administration continue to deny that Agent Orange caused the suffering of many veterans, such as Bill Gibbs, in order to avoid paying disability and long term care benefits.
Much of Vietnam is still contaminated from the Agent Orange we left behind and Vietnamese are still suffering from it.
If you think dishonoring veterans in order to avoid paying them disability benefits is a thing of the past, guess again. Remember those photos of the Pentagon torturing Iraqis in Abu Ghraib? They torture our disabled troops too, at least until they sign away their rights to disability benefits. Read Disposable Soldiers and watch this ten minute video of the Congressional Torture Hearings.
The pentagon has realized a windfall of billions of dollars by denying veterans their disability benefits.
You would think that after receiving 54% of our income taxes, the Pentagon would not have to enrich themselves at the expense of disabled veterans, but their greed and depravity knows no bounds, and neither does the greed and depravity of those on Wall Street who grow rich on the wars we fight.
Veterans Day used to be Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. Many thought, wrongly, that Armistice Day would commemorated the end of war itself; but now that we are fighting perpetual war without end, it certainly wouldn't do to celebrate the end of war. Here's a poem by Robert W. Service of the disposable soldiers of World War I.
The placard above is from Rolla's 2010 Veterans Day Memorial to Agent Orange victims. Visit the Agent Orange Balloon Release memorial website and watch Lois Ann Marler's
video of Rolla's 2008 balloon release.