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Mr. Ed

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  A Veteran Looks Back
by Mr. Ed
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Not rated by the Author.

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•  Three Tiny Terrified Souls
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“I’m proud to be an American,
Where at least I know I’m free;
And I won’t forget the men who died,
Who gave that right to me.”


Lee Greenwood,

God Bless the USA


There seems to be a misconception

By many who advocate continued war

That those who do not agree are ‘Anti-Soldier’

And frankly that notion I deplore


Many who are against this war

Are war veterans themselves

Many who see the sheer folly of it

Have endured war’s tragic hell


Hardly a single soul in this country

Questions the valor of our brave troops

But that certainly does not mean

We must all join in frenzied war whoops


Our soldiers have always been heroic

And their patriotism consistently true blue

But not everyone has to agree with politicians

For dissent and disagreement are still allowed too


There seems to be an ever growing belief

That we can force democracy onto this divergent planet

But many believe that there is about as much chance of that

As producing a bumper crop in a field paved in granite


Most nations don’t want to be force fed another’s religion

They won’t let someone pound a new government into their heads

Most countries in the world still want to pursue their own way of life

And most of them truly want to clean up their own messy beds


Our government declared this war was over

Way back on May 1, 2003

How many more of our troops must die

Before we implement a Withdrawal Policy


We seem to continuously try

To force our will on the world

And it’s always our valiant soldiers

Whose lives always tragically unfurl


War advocates very often persist

In rallying our troops to the necessity of war

Yet when these troops outlive their usefulness

Their combat injuries are far too often ignored


Please take a long stroll through a Veterans Hospital

Stop in on their Spinal Cord Injury and Burn Unit Wards

Then slowly wander down the lanes of a Military Cemetery

Gazing down upon many of our soldiers’ final rewards


Our troops once again tragically die

In yet another protracted battle

While many in this nation persist

In their war cries and their rattles


All of us must fight for our freedom

When our country’s shores are attacked

But perhaps we should leave other nations alone

Until a declared enemy provokes our attack


Three years ago we encountered such an enemy

But we’ve ignored him for other pursuits

Now he still mocks and ridicules our nation

And he’s still very much on the loose


This country has not yet provided justice or closure

For the thousands of victims of the 9-11 Tragedy

Yet many consistently clamor for additional wars

And pursue a World Domination Agenda with glee


I will always salute our noble veterans and soldiers

They are truly Heroic True Blue Patriotic and Tough

But how many more of them must die

Before every one of us stand ups and shouts, “Enough!”


And yes, I’m still proud to be an American,

In a nation where all still have the right to speak freely;

And I will never ever forget the soldiers who have died,

Who have suffered, and who have been maimed,

Who very courageously and unselfishly gave this right to me.


I proudly served 4 years on Active Duty,

Adding a 30-year career as a Veterans’ Advocate;

I have personally visited over 130 Veteran Hospitals,

And I haven’t given up the struggle for our nation’s vets yet.


To zealous war advocates we must continue to state,

That many veterans find your penchant for war,

To be extremely disturbing to many of us,

And something many of us must continue to deplore.


Have you ever sat down for a woefully sad chat,

With a combat burned veteran who no longer has a face?

Have you ever peered into the lost eyes of a Spinal Cord Injury patient,

Who knows that a cold steel gurney will forever be his living space?


Have you ever shared your lunch with disabled homeless veterans,

Who’ve been constantly told they’re no longer fit for the human race?

Have your ever vehemently protested intolerable food served to our veterans,

And been ridiculed by government bureaucrats, and called a disgrace?


Have you ever informed a severely depressed mentally ill man,

That our government hadn’t gotten around to his veteran’s claim yet?

Only very sadly to learn several weeks later that he had hung himself;

In his mind he had become a statistic – yet another discarded, used up, vet.


Ever since the horrific days of Vietnam, now more than 30 years ago,

Our government has maintained an abysmal record of caring for our vets;

And for improvements to occur for Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom veterans,

Many who have been in the trenches, can no longer hold their breath.


But in our country anyone is free to call me unpatriotic if they’d like,

Although I spent well over 30 years serving U.S. veterans and our nation;

And to every single man and woman who has ever served on Active Duty,

I shall always give my Profound Thanks, and my Highest Salutation.


And although I’m now growing old,

I would still gladly Stand Up

To Defend These Shores Today.


‘Cause there ain’t no doubt in my mind

That Myself and Many Many Others

Who Disagree With This War:


Also Passionately Love


Our Country, our Soldiers,

And Especially our Veterans,




In Washington recently, the Defense Secretary said Iraqi insurgents would likely continue to put up a very tough fight for a very long time to come.

"Listen, these folks are extremely determined. They're getting money from all around the world. And they're getting many more recruits," he told reporters.

Meanwhile, a National Public Radio correspondent embe dded with our Marines in Iraq continued to report high rates of desertion among Iraqi troops - with 255 members of a 500-man Iraqi battalion recently quitting.

The Secretary of Defense called these continuing reports of Iraqi troop desertions ‘an insignificant problem’, since U.S. forces are doing most of the fighting in Iraq.

And U.S. Army officials in Iraq just announced that at least 200 Iraqi soldiers have abandoned their posts in the U.S. led assault on Fallujah.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Party in Iraq has withdrawn from participation in their interim government and has urged all Iraqis to boycott the pending January elections.  They have also urged all Arab and Islamic countries to support their brothers in Iraq against our troops.

Yesterday, the Army and Air Force announced an increase in the number of reservists called to active duty in support of our mobilization.  The net collective result is 590 more reservists mobilized than last week.

This brings the total National Guard and Reserve personnel, who have now been mobilized, to 180,184.


So Our Brave Soldiers Continue to Valiantly Fight On;

National Guardsman and Reservists Continue to be Called Up,

In what many in our country still proclaim to be an All-Volunteer Force;

And More of our Courageous Soldiers Continue to Die,

In yet another war that supposedly ended back in 2003;

And in a conflict in which Iraqi soldiers themselves seem to have little desire left to continue, in an ancient extremely militant and religious Islamic country now soliciting support from other Arab nations to fight our troops, and yet an embattled country in which many in America somehow now believe its people are eagerly willing to become a democracy.

I am also extremely saddened and disheartened when I hear people proclaiming

That those of us who oppose this war ‘just don’t get it.’

I sincerely believe that we do.

Our troops’ first mission in Iraq was to find weapons of mass destruction; they searched relentlessly, but didn’t find any.  Then their mission became the ouster of Saddam Hussein; they nobly accomplished this task.  Then their mission became rooting out terrorists; they’ve valiantly found a few, but many believe our troops could remain in Iraq for the next 30 years and never dig them all out.  Now our troops’ mission seems to be fighting Iraqi insurgents who are vehemently opposed to the January elections we have imposed on them.  And it seems we call up more troops every week.

What if a militant Islamic religious leader is elected in Iraq in January?  Will our troops’ next mission then become policing Iraq until their next election?  And then until their next?  And their next?

I also wonder if some of our war advocates today have already forgotten, or perhaps are too young to remember, the tragic mistakes we, as a nation, once made in Vietnam; the tragic mistakes many of our veterans all still living with today.

I also pray deep within my heart and soul that the same horrific mistakes do not await our brave soldiers now serving in Iraq, who seem to be suddenly increasing in number, and who could be entrenched there for a very long time. 

Terrorists are not only hiding in Iraq; they are hiding in many nations throughout the Middle East and throughout the entire world.  Are we now to believe that we must invade every nation on earth that may pose a potential threat to our national security, or who we believe may be harboring terrorists?

I fervently hope not, for our troops’ sake, and for our own.


Many in this country also once believed that the Soviet Union would annihilate us.

And many in this country spent years pontificating on behalf of war;

And years building bomb shelters and weapons;

And years mobilizing and demanding an increase in troop strength.


And many of us in America went to bed each and every night,

Convinced that our country would no longer exist the next morning.


But thankfully, it was a ‘Cold War,’ not a hot, violent, bloody one;

And thousands more of our troops did not have to perish.

And thankfully, President Ronald Wilson Reagan pursued Peace Through Strength,

Instead of War Through Intimidation.

And we are all still here today because of his Wisdom.


But so are the terrorists of the world; and they will always be here;

No matter how many nations we eventually decide to invade;

No matter how many troops we eventually decide to mobilize;

No matter how many ‘free elections’ we demand;

And no matter how many of our courageous troops tragically die.


If you visit the Iraq Coalition Casualty Website listed below,

You will find that our courageous troops tragically lead the way

In this department, too, as they usually valiantly do,

In what many still claim is a ‘Coalition of Many Nations’ in Iraq.


As of today, Veterans Day 2004, the number of U.S. troops

In Iraq approaches 150,000.


As of today, Veterans Day 2004, the number of U.S. troops

In Afghanistan,

The Last Known Hiding Place of the Diabolical Terrorist

Who Joyously Admitted Responsibility for our  9-11 Tragedy,

The gravest, the most blatant, the most cleverly accomplished

Enemy Attack Upon Our Nation’s Shores,

Remains under 20,000.


As a veteran, and having met thousands of soldiers and veterans

In my 30-year career attempting to assist them,

And having befriended hundreds of them,

And having laughed and drank with them,

And having wept with them,

And having listened to their heroic tales,

And to their extremely tragic stories,

And having attended far too many of their funerals,

I am extremely confident

That the vast majority of our courageous men and women in uniform today

Would much rather fight and die in pursuit of Osama bin Laden,

Than be forced to fight and die in what many now perceive

To be an extremely futile attempt

To ensure a ‘free  election’ is conducted

In an Islamic country

In which its own citizens

Do not seem to have much interest.


But our valiant soldiers never get to decide;

They always loyally follow orders;

And many of them are horribly maimed;

And far too many of them perish;

For each and every one of us.


U.S. Troop Casualty Totals in Iraq as of Veterans Day, 2004:


1,146 Dead


8,120 Wounded


And Department of Veterans Affairs Officials

Have recently estimated that

One in five soldiers serving in Iraq

Will develop some type of mental illness


War truly is Hell, as General Sherman so profoundly proclaimed.


And I firmly believe that most American citizens

Who are not in favor of continuing this war in Iraq do ‘get it,’

And they ‘get it’ extremely well.


But this does not mean that we have to agree with war advocates

That continuing this war, and sending even more U.S. troops 

Into Harm’s Way in Iraq,

Is the best course of action,

For either our nation or for our courageous soldiers.


And this certainly does not mean

That we are anti-soldier, or anti-veteran.


But I sincerely believe that we have the right to our opinion,

As war advocates surely have the right to theirs.


But no matter what your own opinion is on the war in Iraq,

Please find it in your heart to visit some veterans

In your community,

Or in your local VA Hospital this week.

They will truly appreciate your company,

And your concern – especially this Veterans Day Week.


Happy Veterans Day,

To All My Many Veteran Friends.

Thank You From the Bottom of My Heart,

And God Bless You All.

“You cannot qualify war in harsher

Terms than I will.  War is cruelty,

And you cannot refine it;

War is Hell.”

William Tecumseh Sherman


“Ours is a world of nuclear giants, and ethical infants.

We know more about war than we know about peace,

And more about killing, than we know about living.”


Omar N. Bradley



 “Old men declare war,

But it is our youth,

Who must fight and die.”


Herbert Hoover



“The military don’t start wars;

Politicians start wars.”


William C. Westmoreland



“History teaches that wars begin,

When governments believe

the price of aggression is cheap.”


Ronald W. Reagan



“Mankind must put an end to war,

Before war puts an end to mankind.”


John F. Kennedy



Iraq Coaltion Casualty List

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Reviewed by E. Richardson
Was rambling about in here tonight...and ran across this fine piece of work and am now trying to determine how I missed it before.
No matter, I have found it now.
Excellent work here my friend. I am one of those veterans who does not support war.
I will support those men and women who choose to stand in harms way...will support them totally...but I do not support war.
I have been there...done that and I still fight its effects every day.
This I would not wish on anyone.
Excellent work...simply excellent.
Reviewed by Jaideep Rao (Reader)
Am not an American but an ex-Serviceman myself. Your sentiments & poetic style impress me no end. Your patriotism is commendable my friend.
Reviewed by *********** ********** (Reader)
I agree with Gwen!

We just had remembrance day here in Oz...

I laid a red Poppy by the picture of my families fallen a Sailor...A blessing to him for his brave heart and love for his wide brown land.

You move me.....

ty, Dani
Reviewed by Gwen Dickerson
Content: AAA+
Presentation: AAA+
Democratic Spirit: AAA+
Courage and awareness: AAA+
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

first of all, thank you, sir, for your service.

OUTSTANDING write--one of your best

(((HUGS))) and love, karla. :)
Reviewed by Peter Paton
Happy Remembrance day Ed....
We live in a changing world...and it requires different ways now to combat the menace of tyranny and despotism..
Reviewed by Handsum Hart
Wow Ed, you put your heart and soul into this write.


Reviewed by Katy Walsvik
Simply amazing! Oh, yes, I mean that most emphatically regarding your keenly sharpened arrow, your aim, 20/20. BUT... the targets moved, just at the crucial moment of BULLSEYE! Sigh...

I'm dumbfounded, entirely, LE, that the leaders of the right-wing tirades of late left their poison arrows 'back at the ranch'... dare I say they didn't "get it?" OR... did they read it?

What you have written here, Ed, is the bottom line! the ultimate rant that omits nothing. It's courageous, steeped in honesty and fact and it gathers all that needs saying. No apologies, no insults (unlike the other side) and not a word of it was said for dramatic effect. The man who composed this scraped it off his gut. There is profound pain, unwavering truths, and finally, an invitation for redemption. I heard every word, dear friend. I can't imagine that you moved away from this very quickly... more like an exhileration for having told it, and perhaps a moment of absolutely numbness, an ache to have it sincerely heard.

How proud I am to call you my friend. katy xox.
Reviewed by Tyrone Banks
This is an excellent article and poetry penned by a veteran who has seen combat and the continued pain that exists off of the battlefield as our soldiers try to recover. I support our soldiers and pray that they come home before we lose another one of our warriors. I also pray that those who support our soldiers will not forget their efforts and treat them with kindness, dignity and respect.

Thank you Ed Kostro for what you have done for your country and for what you continue to do for your fellow veterans.
Reviewed by Thomas Lanechanger
El Captain Ed, this piece is a stunning example of why it’s so important to support and honor our man and women who have paid the price for our freedom. It also is a disgrace how many of our Veteran’s through the years have not been properly taken care of once they’ve returned home. An outstanding well composed write, my friend, which should help to galvanize our citizens to understand that once our leaders send them off to fight, they hopefully will realize that many return in grave need of all of our consideration, and our very best medical professionals to restore their bodies and minds. I salute your service to our country and your brilliant display of digging in for the long haul to help those less fortunate! Thank you for sharing this remarkable piece. Take care and be well.
Reviewed by George Carroll
In a world of opinions you have expressed it best.
Reviewed by La Belle Rouge (Reader)
A very honest and respectful expression of your heart, Ed. Some of us do get it even if many think we don't.
Reviewed by E T Waldron
Excellent heartfelt and beautifully stated! God bless you Ed!
Reviewed by Kate Clifford
As you know I will always scream for peace, but yes I too give my full respect to the soldier. Thank you for your sharing of info.
Reviewed by Sandie Angel
A wonderful timely piece.

Sandie May Angel :o)
Reviewed by Lisa Hilbers
Ed, I know Veterans everywhere will appreicate every heartfelt word of this.
Thank You Ed!

Reviewed by Ted Sheridan (Reader)
Thank you my friend.
Reviewed by D May (Reader)
Excellent write. Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Reviewed by Ed Matlack
This whole thing, as it is, needs to be sent to a newspaper, perhaps that big paper in Chicago, I don't know the name of it, but I know it sits like on the river that runs thru the city, anyway, more people need to see this well thought out and well written piece...Ed
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
Most outstanding Tribute Ed!!

Take care and be well

Love Tinka
Reviewed by Judy Lloyd (Reader)
This is what I meant in my essay about peace or profanity. I can listen to you and read what you write. You say here many thoughts that should be said. I do not consider that unpatriotic because it is very patriotic. This makes for a good read and makes you think effectively. Most of us share this same feeling and yes I have gone to the veteran's hospital our nation care of the elderly is deplorable. I have worked in nursing homes and many times see people abandoned by their own family. It is the reason so many health care workers burn out in a short period of time. Thank your for saying this without obscene profanity.
Reviewed by Paul Berube
Thanks for the outstanding remembrance. Facts speak for themselves. I can truly say I needed this reminder.
Reviewed by Trish - The Trickster
Excellent write. Happy Remembrance Day to you as well. Trish.
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