War and Peace
(Not the Novel)
Reflections on War
and Inhumanity

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I Remember May 1992, Bangkok
In Memory of the May Pro-Democracy Uprising

This Stone

The Philippine American War:
The War They Forgot to Teach Me About

What I Have to Say:
Insanities and Injustices

Wilfred Owen: Poet of "The Great War"

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By Dale E. Victorine
9/18/1997

The grass has grown green and brown
Countless times over the grave
Of this fallen soldier.
His cloven helmet lies
Covered with time nearby
Rusting and forgotten.

His friends called him
A martyr.
His politicians called him
A hero.
His wife called his name
In the night.

But now
What can be said of him
But that he killed
And was killed?

For the killing he thought
Was the only answer
Has never stopped—
Only the lives of those young men.
Of yours,
Of ours,
Of theirs,
Cut down more savagely
Than any wild animal could kill.
Yes, even with a gruesome joy.
A joy....

Let us think again
When we say a war is just.
Let us listen with our hearts.
Only then might we hear the sound
Of the gleeful laughter,
And the hellish joy
In this Rage called war.

Do not mourn nor hate
This fallen soldier
Who, in a dark and searing dream,
Killed and was killed.
But listen to the moaning silence,
Then search again.
Search again for peace.


This Stone

6/23/01

This stone,
Offspring of some long forgotten star,
Space Traveler,
Now rests for a short interval
In the vastness of time.

This stone,
Offspring of this small planet,
Born of its molten heart,
Has long since cooled
And lies waiting for its homecoming
To the fires of its birth.

This stone lies still now,
Beside a crying child,
Both victims they are now,
Of a senselessly enraged rioter
Who threw a hastily chosen stone
Through a hated stranger’s window.

This stone lies still now.

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I Remember May
Bangkok, May 17, 1992
Written 1997

On those muggy streets of Bangkok
The thousands gathered
For a protest like none before.
Seeming to forget the all too recent past,
They came full of hope
That this would be the time
When Thais would finally claim
The freedom they deserved.

The coup leader, Suchinda--
How he'd promised to give them freedom.
How he'd promised to fade away
Once elections could be held.

But, suddenly, in sorrow, he was saying
That his country needed him
In it's moment of confusion
And like any other tyrant,
He declared himself the leader.

But Thai means free,
And they poured onto the streets,
Swept along by destiny
Toward the freedom they deserved.

In army bases far away
The news came in urgent, clipped dispatches:
"The mob had kidnapped the King."
Though, in fact, the King was safe,
But watching helplessly.

The troops were sent in scores of trucks;
Sent to liberate
The "City of Angels"
From the wild-eyed "mob".

In their guns were real bullets--
"Rubber ones were much too costly.
And besides--
What good were rubber bullets
Against a wild-eyed 'mob'?"

So the army took their places
Around the hopeful thousands
Who sang and chanted slogans,
And still believed--
Refusing to think of what was coming.

Then the rain of bullets came
The screams,
The panic stricken thousands
With nowhere to run
Learned again
Of the price of freedom.

I remember May. I remember May.
I pray to God that you do.


If you'd like to learn more about this tragedy from an eye witness, follow this link to Barry Russell's website.

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The Philippine-American War:

The War They Forgot to
Teach Me About

I wonder how many Americans know that ninety nine years ago, in 1899, America began a war with the Philippines that claimed 400,000 to 600,000 Filipino lives. It began soon after America had defeated Spain and essentially bought the Philippines for 20 million dollars.

It probably wouldn’t have started at all if the Filipinos hadn’t wanted to be free. But they declared independence, and "America the Beautiful", defender of the downtrodden would have none of it. The Filipinos were called variously: "insurgents", "injuns", and the "n" word. One soldier bragged of how his unit took no prisoners:

"We advanced four miles and we fought every inch of the way;... saw twenty-five dead insurgents in one place and twenty-seven in another, besides a whole lot of them scattered along that I did not count.... It was like hunting rabbits; an insurgent would jump out of a hole or the brush and run; he would not get very far.... I suppose you are not interested in the way we do the job. We do not take prisoners. At least the Twentieth Kansas do not."
--Arthur Minkler, of the Kansas Regiment

How many black periods such as this exist in American history? More than we’d like to admit. But how can we possibly hope to have a great society if such horrible episodes are so easily forgotten? "Denial" is a buzz word that is almost going out of style; but it mustn’t. Our country is drenched in it and must continue to fight it actively if we are to survive and grow.

Virtually none of my Filipino friends know more than the scetchiest of details about the war, even when they've grown up and been eduacated in the Phillipines. At first they think I'm talking about WW II, and are sincerely surprised and shocked to hear what actually happened 100 years ago.

Follow this link to an excellent book concerning the Philippine-American War:


Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War
0815602685:Product Link on Barnes & Noble.com.

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Wilfred Owen
1893-1918

Wilfred Owen was an English poet who was killed in action in World War I. His poems on war are compelling and unblinkingly honest. Here are two of them. For more on Owen and his poetry try these links:

Owen 1

Owen 2

Wilfred Owen

Strange Meeting

It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.
Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall;
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange friend," I said, "here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said the other, "save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then when much blood had clogged their chariot wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now...."

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

(It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.)



Follow this link to a collection of Wilfred Owen's poetry.

The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen

 

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