Monday, September 2, 2019
Bob Dole, Bill Sherman, and some blind guys with an elephant :: Essays Papers
Bob Dole, Bill Sherman, and some blind guys with an elephant When I moved back to Vermont and had conversations with friends and relatives about the Gulf War, I was surprised at how different the war they were describing was from the one that I remember. "Stealth" fighters, "Patriot" missiles, "chemical" attacks, people that I talked to had the impression that war was a constant state of danger. At the American Legion's annual convention this past summer, speaker Bob Dole said in part that, for those of us who served in wars, "We did not see the big picture. We saw the small struggle. We did not hear the call of history. We heard the voice of friends" (Stuteville 49). What I remember the most about the Gulf War is also the "small" struggles. Before I went to Saudi Arabia I had the classic American (or was it Hollywood?) idea of what "war" was all about. Just like John Wayne, or Rambo, I knew what war was! (I still remember a briefing chart that we had made of what we, the guys in my company and me, thought of as "our" mission . . . "Go there, kick ass, come home.") I knew that we would get there and, somehow, magically, be delivered to where the Iraqi army was. We would then defeat those same Iraqis in some grand, amorphous "Cinemascope and Technicolor" battle, set the Iraqi people free from the evil clutches of Saddam Hussein, and come home to America where we would all be honored as heroes. There would be victory parades, speeches, and (most importantly) free beer for the rest of our lives. What we found was that for eight months we sat on our butts in the middle of a desert. Not that "Beau Geste" desert of rolling sand dunes and oases with palm trees, Bedouin tribesmen with caravans of camels that Hollywood had managed to find. Oh, no-oo-oo! What we got was a rock-covered, "so-hot-you-couldn't-go-outside-in-the-middle-of- the-day," "so-cold-at-night-that-you-needed-a-sleeping-bag," bug-infested piece of land that, better than "desert," someone should have called "Mars" because it looked as if it was plucked off the face of another planet and thrown down just for us to find. This was as far removed from a Hollywood desert as it could be. There are three things about that war that I will never forget. First, I will always remember struggling with the sun.