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A man of many words. Profane, profound, loyal to a fault and a right rat bastard. I love the finer things in life: expensive cigars, cheap women and all the salted, cured meats I can eat. A friend to dogs, lover of humanity and despiser of people. If I were King the world would be a better place, because, well...I would be King! Oh, and I like ice cream.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

What Was the Point?

Today we arrived in Vientiane, capital city of the Lao Republic. Along with viewing the Presidential Palace, the Victory Gate and the Srisaket Wat (temple) we paid a visit to the Cooperative Orthotics and Prosthetics Enterprise (COPE).

It was a gut clench moment. During the Indochina War we, the good old USA, proud defenders of freedom, liberty and all things good and righteous, dropped more bombs by tonnage on this poor, defenseless, NEUTRAL, no-threat-to-us country than was dropped by ALL sides during the entirety of World War II. I want you to think about that for a moment. Lao was never a threat to us or our vaunted American way of life. None. And we bombed the shit out of it.

Sure, ostensibly it was because the North Vietnamese Army was running supplies to the south of Vietnam on the Ho Chi Minh trail which partially ran through Lao. But in the end what threat did Vietnam pose to us? It has been well established the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which propelled our military into that damned war was based on a lie. We allowed over 58,000 of our own sons and daughters plus no doubt millions of Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodians to be slaughtered based on a lie foisted on us by our leaders whom we put into office. Sound like anything recent? Has anything changed?

Today, forty-odd years onward, untold tons of UXO (Un-Exploded Ordnance) lie waiting in the countryside for the unsuspecting child, the laboring farmer, the wayward livestock. Over 20,000 people have died from these remnants of cluster bombs, frag grenades, mortars, artillery shells and more since 1975. Thousands more have been "lucky" to only lose arms, legs, hands, eyes or feet.

The COPE center is dedicated to providing orthotics, prosthetics, rehabilitation and job training to Lao people injured by the byproducts of the war.
 Sculpture created from Un-exploded ordnance.
Cluster Bomb representation

I did not walk away proud to be an American today. And yet the Lao people hold no animus towards me as an American. In fact I have been told "It was a long time ago. You are not to blame."

Wish I could accept that.

If you are so moved please donate to this worthy cause. The link provided below is through Intrepid Travel, the company I am presently travelling with and a corporate supporter of COPE:

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