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June 23, 2017

They Salute With Their Left Hand


This is a day where we should honor the dead and remember in silence the memory of the fallen. Decorum demands we don’t turn this occasion into a political football and instead observe with somber reflection how a few are asked to carry the burdens of millions. Yet, as much as I tried to be mindful of my own admonitions, the scene of one politician after another using this day to promote themselves as they pretend to care for the dead and the veterans who live with the nightmares of their perished comrades was too much for me to remain silent. I could no longer bite my tongue, so I choose to do my patriotic duty and speak out against these duplicitous demagogues and double dealing politicians who use the pains of those who serve to serve themselves.

America has become a nation of two minds when it comes to the way we treat wars and the veterans who take part in them. Not wanting to revisit the shameful era where veterans were mistreated during the Vietnam war, we have gone to the other extreme where we utter niceties and pleasantries to veterans as if we are conditioned to say “thank you for your service”. But words without deeds and catch phrases without action are meaningless. We keep buying yellow ribbons as a way of saying “we care” yet walk right on by the very veterans we are supposed to care for as we ignore those who call pavements foxholes and their new homes.

What we do out of indifference though politicians purvey with abject maliciousness. I’m not writing this from a political or a partisan perspective; both Democrats and Republicans are equally guilty of this stain that is evident on our nation’s conscience. Patriotism is birthing negligence in the public and giving allowance to perniciousness by the upper crust of society who see it fit to use the suffering of veterans and the memories of the dead to make fortunes for themselves as they ignore the very people who they profess to honor. We keep electing Presidents, Senators and Congressmen in DC who are completely disconnected from any semblance of sacrifice as they cravenly salute men and women of valor.

We have a toy soldier our commander in chief as Trump is flown around in a private jet while he sends men and women to their death in order to appease his corporate patrons. This is why I am so vehemently against wars; patriotism and love of country is just being used to mask the greed and power grab that is the cause of one war after another. The victims of this vile practice of corporate gluttony and federated excess are the veterans who sign up to serve their country only to be shipped overseas to be treated as targets of the weapons defense contractors sell to the other side so that we can have an enemy to fight. This paradigm of endless warfare after all needs a boogieman; arms are thus shipped by the millions to the “bad guy” so that we can have a perpetual state of conflict.

Perpetual state of conflict is extinguishing endless lives on all sides as our finest die in foreign lands and those who return come back broken by the memories of lost friends and lost lives. Maligned once by war, veterans are victimized yet again as they are treated with malice by the very same government they bled to protect. Long lines at VA hospitals, an eternity to get the mental health they need, and families who grow estranged; this is why one veteran every 25 minutes finds a permanent solution by way of suicide’s comfort. Those who survive do so while war continues to ravage their minds; PTSD gnaws at the mind of millions as the lives of veterans become a delicate dance between mind bending strife and a few glimmers of hope. Even the ones who have a life of normality and success–veterans like former Lieutenant Colonel Rick Belt who I interviewed last week (link)–still suffer the remembrances of war’s past. Meanwhile politicians live a life of royalty using those same memories as cash registers.

Our duplicitous politicians overlook the horror veterans go through and instead glom on to the glory of war as they pay scant attention to the struggles of survivors. It is an outrage and an injustice of the highest magnitude that our nation would allow even one veteran to call concretes home let along the teeming masses of once soldiers who are homeless. We spend literally hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems that the military keeps saying they don’t need (link), yet we can’t spend a fraction of the cost of one weapon’s program to house veterans! Companies like Boeing and Northrup Grumman are making untold billions by using the blood and bodies of soldiers as sunk costs. To cover this immorality and wicked scheme, politicians like Trump and Obama are foisted upon us to keep us distracted by politics while the military-financial complex wreaks havoc upon the planet.

When you see one politician after another saluting the service of veterans and honoring those who are no longer with us, discount all of them as frauds and scoundrels of the highest order. These people are not patriots, they are part and parcel of an enemy within that is destroying the fabric of our nation as they send the bravest of men and women to their death in order to reap profits. Perhaps it is time for the draft to be reconstituted after all; maybe we will start caring more for veterans and the lives of those we keep saying “thank you for your service” to in passing if our butts were one the wall too. Until then, we will continue to be led by leaders who salute with their left hands as they take from veterans and all of us with their right hands. #LeftHandSaluters 

“When politics is no longer a mission but a profession, politicians become more self-serving than public servants.” ~ Emmanuel Macron

Check out the Ghion Cast below where I interviewed a real life hero and a veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Men like Rick Belt are who we should let lead us instead of letting fear mongers bleed us.

Silent Salute 

To the soldiers who sacrificed
Did their duty without asking
I express outrage against injustice
Over immoral wars and endless carnage
I am speaking out for you in the process
 
Veterans in the end understand one thing
Their fellow men were never their enemy
To this day fierce rivals from past conflicts
Embrace after the last bullets have been fired
 
Soldiers salute and do their duty that is best
The sorrows they go through alone
Trauma induced by bodies and reduced humanity
Only to come back home and encounter Satan’s embrace
 
Flash backs prompting cold sweats
Bullets and blood droplets
Too much for the mind to process
Those who die in wars are fortunate
It’s the veterans, the survivors
Who carry the burdens of these remembrances
 
Fallen comrades and innocent children
Indiscriminately swallowed whole by turbulence
Tears mixing with blood stains
Cries drowned out by battle drums
War is humanity’s utmost blemish
 
Concealed by propaganda and theatrics
Patriotism birthing negligence
Our conscience is subverted into ignorance
As we enjoy disengagement’s bliss
Veterans suffer depression’s kiss
Politicians, profiteers and Hollywood
Glorifying war horrors by bending reality
Obfuscating suffering with special effects and rhetoric
 
But to the soldier their truth is the opposite
Rat-tat-tat-tat bullets shattering God’s presence
Untold masses disappearing into graves and silence
We wave flags thanking them for service
They shiver alone bearing the cost of compliance
Final judgments by way of triggers and buttons
 
Only to come back home
Shock and awe replaced by shock trauma
Nightmares that never end
Being continually transported back to mayhem
The battle field redrawn into the mind’s synapses
Piercing quietness with shrieks and terrors
 
Spouses who grow estranged
Children unable to comprehend
Concern pixelating into absence
Loneliness the only friend that remains
The proud and few become islands
Invisible wounds breaking cognizance
This is why so many end up homeless
Many more embracing suicide’s cuddle
Despair muffles life and blends into darkness
To be met by society’s mind numbing indifference
 
We step over them daily
Once warriors turned into the indigent
Salutes being returned with diffidence
Yet in this silence I stand for you
May God forever bless you
Where you are broken
May you mend into fullness
 
Sergeant Black in DC
Vietnam War survivor
Gunny Stevens in Greenville
Korean War survivor
Derrick in Colorado
Iraq War survivor
Frank in Ankeny Iowa
World War II survivor
Countless others who I have met
Had the honor of sharing meals with
May your struggles be fleeting
But your blessings be eternal
In silence I salute you
 
~ This poem is an excerpts from Serendipity’s Trace, a book I wrote while I was in a boot camp called life which led to a harvest called purpose. ~
“Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.” ~ Muhammad Iqbal
Teodrose Fikre
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Teodrose Fikre

Founder at Ghion Journal
Teodrose Fikre is a published author and a prolific writer whose speech idea was incorporated into Barack Obama's south Carolina victory speech in 2008. Once thoroughly entangled in politics and a partisan loyalist, a mugging by way of reality shed political blinders from Teodore's eyes and led him on a journey to fight for universal justice.

Teodrose was born in Ethiopia the same year Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by the communist Derg junta. The great grandson five generations removed of Atse (emperor) Tewodros Kassa II, the greatest king of Ethiopia, Teodrose is clearly influenced by the history and his connection to Ethiopia. Through his experiences growing up as first generation refugee in America, Teodrose writes poignantly about the universal experiences of joys, pains and a hope for a better tomorrow that binds all of humanity.

Teodrose has written extensively about the intersection of politics, economic policies, identity, and history. He is the author of "Serendipity's Trace" and newly released "Soul to Soil", two works that inspect the ways we are dissected as a people and shows how we can overcome injustice through the inclusive vision of togetherness.
Teodrose Fikre
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