Monday, May 27, 2013

The Living Dead

How effed up & untreated the "Greatest Generation" was.
“Right after I got out of the Marine Corps, from ’47 to ’49, I was at North Carolina State. I’d been an honors student in that military school. Hell, I could just read anything and pick it right up. But, uh, I couldn’t settle down for some reason or other. I did a lot of drinking. I had a C average … Then I was asked to leave.”

He moved back home and remained drunk.

“Finally, my daddy said, ‘Boy, you gotta go.’

“‘Go where?’

“He said, ‘I don’t know—just go.’”

He went to Atlanta and tried college there. Again he got kicked out.

I asked, “Was it the war?”

“I don’t know what it was. All I was interested in was something to drink and pussy.”

He married and started working at General Motors. Like my father, he hated the factory job.
We read something (most likely in The New Yorker, probably pre-Internet) attributing heavy boozing among the professional classes in the Northeast (think Mad Men; The New Yorker wouldn't have given too much of a fuck about factory workers) in the 1950s to what G.I. Joe experienced in WWII, & kept repressed:
Dad’s temper made ours a house of turmoil. But our family never tied his condition to the war. Not only was TBI an unknown affliction in mid-century America, we pretended that the war was in the distant past. It wasn’t discussed.
And America continues eating its young:
In 1965, even though he had two small children, he tried to re-enlist in the marines to go to Vietnam. But they wouldn’t take him back. In 1977 his wife used his .45 pistol to kill herself. His son later committed suicide.
And (collaterally) the U.S. eats the young & old of other nations. USA! USA!

Too fucking bad most people are so damned stupid they don't wise up until they reach their 80s:
“The older I get—and I’m not a philosopher or nothing—but you look back and the whole damn thing was kind of stupid,” Jim said of the war. “It happened twenty years before—World War I. And it’s been going on since World War II. What’s the point in all of this? I don’t know why people want to, as a country, just kill every damn body. It don’t make sense.”

“Was World War II worth fighting?” I asked.

“At the time it was, yeah. But we got a lot of propaganda about what the world was going to be like afterward. Somebody up there must be looking after us, if there is somebody up there.”

“How do you figure that?” I could never ask my dad about these things. But at least I had Jim.

“Because we’ve made so many friggin’ mistakes. One right after another, one war after another. We just don’t learn. Somebody wrote a book that asked, ‘What if they held a war, and nobody came?’ Hell, I think it’s all about money, misguided beliefs, ego. Whole lot of other bullshit. Somebody told me right after World War II, ‘You can take that Purple Heart and 50 cents and buy a beer in just about any joint in town.’ And that’s really about the way it was.”
Yeah, why the hell not?

1 comment:

mikey said...

Two problems.

Old men love to start wars.

And young men love to fight them.

And so it is, and so it has ever been...