Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Columbian Perpetuates the Myth of the “Deranged Veteran”

Once again, as we approach another Independence Day celebration, we see the usual slate of fireworks haters writing letters to the editor, speaking before city council demanding the long held tradition of citizens using fireworks to celebrate the day be banned within the city.

As I have previously noted, such a ban is ill-advised and unenforceable, but that doesn’t stop the haters from trumping up their yearly hyperbole of Battle Zone, Armageddon and what have you.

That we are currently in a compromise worked out with the haters a few years ago is of no consequence to them as they now demand yet another compromise, a tactic of incremental compromises until they get their way and the responsible citizens lose their tradition.

As also noted before, responsible users are who will lose out, those few pinheads who opt to buy illegal firework already banned will just continue to buy them from the Indian Reservations, setting them off at will, ban or no ban.

We have seen warnings for years of scaring pets, burning down homes, injuries to children and more hype, even though the newspaper of record, the Columbian has reported the last two years in a row that incidents from fireworks have shown a decrease each year respectively.

But that isn’t good enough for the haters who continue to demand a full ban, many being recent transplants from other regions that came here to escape those regions and now strive to recreate the very region they fled.

Such is the case with a so-called conservative blogger and recent transplant from California who labels our tradition as “Loud, Proud and Obnoxious.” The description provided is,
“I've never been in a war zone but being in a war zone was the analogy that immediately came to my mind, being encircled by the continuous sound of canon-fire and having the windows on each side of our home brightly lighted (even with the shutters closed) with flash after flash from aerial fireworks explosions.”
That’s right, he has never been in a war zone, never served a day as a matter of fact, but feels he has a right to speak of what war is like.

Of late, a new twist has been added into the fray by the haters, right out of the Vietnam Days when we came home to chants and jeers, with Television shows lining up dramatizing the dangers of Vietnam Veterans, many falsely labeling us as “deranged” and so affected by serving in the war they opposed, we were a danger to not only ourselves, but to society in general.

It didn’t help to see the likes of now senior Senator from Massachusetts, John F’in Kerry (rumored to have served briefly in Vietnam) throwing into the mix his 1971 “testimony” before Congress,
“The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence…..”
And now, we see similar claims, although not quite so strong as Kerry’s yet, coming from some who claim to be conservatives as they warn us of how fireworks trigger episodes in Veterans, primarily those of us with PTSD, which to one degree or another is just about every single one of us who stepped into harm’s way.

I went to the Vancouver City Council Meeting and testified, speaking out against using Veterans as tools to further erode people’s freedoms, saying we fought to protect and defend freedom, not be used as a means to take freedoms away.

City Council listened to an outpouring of support of our traditional use of fireworks and tabled the proposed bans for now, angering the haters greatly who cry they receive no representation for their demands.

Enter the Columbian, alternately known as either the “Hyena’s of Inkville” or “the unofficial newsletter of the Democratic Party.”

Even though the ban went down in defeat for now, they scoured Clark County and Vancouver, finding “one” veteran who claims his dislike of fireworks in their article, When fireworks stir memories of war.

Like many of the rest of us, fireworks do bother us, but we handle it. For me, the thought of people being denied any freedom based upon whether or not I like something bothers me a great deal more than the few days of boom, boom, bang, bang around the 4th of July.

The article goes on to quote 2 psychologists, neither of who indicate having served anywhere near a war zone themselves. One says,
“Most people who are veterans suffering from PTSD hate the Fourth of July. It’s highly stressful if they’re sensitive to the noise and light. Most have anxiety and panic.”
What that is based upon is unknown, but doesn’t represent a single Veteran I know.

The other states a little more realistic view with,
“What happens when the person is exposed to a loud noise or something that triggers a memory of the original event, it can make them re-experience it. Still, one shouldn’t assume that when they hear the sound they’ll be completely dysfunctional. They don’t have that level of distortion, usually. But it can be very stressful and unpleasant.”
Not considered is how stressful or unpleasant it is to know we are little more than tools for someone else’s agenda, after making our sacrifices to preserve and defend freedom and liberty.

As I have repeatedly said, I don’t care for fireworks. I don’t buy them nor do I set any off. Some make my skin crawl and others make my stomach drop to my knees, especially if I don’t realize it is about to be set off.

But fireworks alone are not what remind me of my time in Vietnam. Far from it.

Certain songs bring back memories. Seeing the so called Peace Sign reminds me of the lack of reception and negativity thrown towards us upon our return.

Hearing helicopters overhead reminds me as well.

Sudden loud noises affect me as well as does the backfiring of a car or even a 21 gun salute at a memorial service, given the squad firing the salute is often well behind or to the side of the audience and they fire with no warning.

Going to the cities display years ago brought me the worst experience I have had so far with fireworks, but no one calls for any of these or anything else that may trigger memories to be banned. No, only the fireworks the haters want banned.

They may not realize it, but when they make claims like “Most have anxiety and panic” or “it can be very stressful and unpleasant,” the logical leap from that is “the Veteran just may freak out and cause harm to himself or someone else.”

Is that far from Kerry’s words in 1971,
“The country doesn’t know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence…..?”
We are not ticking time bombs. We are not monsters. We are people just like everybody else who saw our duty and performed it, at great sacrifice for some.

As I said above, I neither buy nor set off fireworks, so such a ban will have little effect on me personally. But stop using Veterans as tools to further your agendas. Come up with something else besides using us and trying to convince people and children we are damaged goods or that they must walk on eggshells when around us.

Shame on the Columbian for furthering this myth with their article.

No comments: