Monday, March 21, 2011

shores of tripoli

I have vague memories of VJ Day (I was four) but have been more fully aware of the cessation of many other "hostilities" As my Viet Nam-era Navy Veteran friend puts it, however: "No war is ever really over," even if the U.S. has definitively declared victory or claimed to have accomplished a mission.

The beginnings of wars are a different matter. Someone must have 'shared' the crossing of the 38th parallel when I was in grade school, and the Korean Conflict was a staple of Current Events for a long time while we learned to 'duck and cover' and fear Communism.

As a 17-year-old USO volunteer, I wondered why so many of the Marines were talking about going to Laos, but the Southeast Asian wars started very gradually, perhaps as a holdover from WWII and Korea.

Since January 1991, when Steve and I watched the almost ritualistic start of Operation Desert Storm on CNN, I've been all too conscious of the starts of wars. Thus Saturday's launching of missiles into Libya brought back that memory, along with one of being in Idaho, on the phone with Sandy, while the U.S. invaded Iraq.

I don't watch international news on CNN anymore. It doesn't take a lot of theme music and rhetoric to help me recognize atrocities. NPR's calmer coverage -- punctuated by Tivo'd doses of Jon Stewart's outrageous observations -- keeps my adrenaline level high enough.

My high school Latin teacher, proud to be a Reserve officer, liked to shock the boys with predictions of how he'd be ordering them around in the Middle East as soon as they graduated, if not before. I can't imagine Mr. M lived to see George Bush draw a line in the sand, but I often wonder whether he made it to Southeast Asia.and met any of his old students there.

Now Operation Odyssey Dawn brings flashbacks to and from the shores of Tripoli.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License