Wednesday, December 8, 2010

to see if I am smiling

My niece is in the armed forces. For her it has been all positive - gung ho, team spirit, flags snapping in the wind and jets flying in formation overhead. I have never served because I was lucky enough to get a high number in the Vietnam draft lottery. The number for my birthday was 262. The number for the day before my birthday was 8.

Life is like that.

I don't think I have ever felt such sorrow as when I visited the Vietnam war memorial in Washington, DC. It is the perfect object for its purpose, a dark wedge of marble, starting small, growing tall and deep, then becoming small again, just as did the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. I can't stand before it without tears because I know the 55,000 who died were my brothers who got the short straw. But I cannot forget that over two million Vietnamese died in that war under the assault of a nation from the other side of the world.

So my heart doesn't pound when bands play, troops march in parade and crowds cheer. Defense is necessary, glorification is not.

To see the truth, I ask you to watch a whopping 60 minutes of video, made by Israelis about young Israeli women drafted into the IDF. The title is mysterious but comes through powerfully late in the show. Please watch To See if I am Smiling.


  1. a piece without compare

    whatever made you decide to work on this blog as you have, there is one person who is better off because of it

  2. Thank you very much. I have sent the link to the video to my niece. I hope she watches as well.