Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Honoring The Memory

Image credit: The Naval Aviation Museum The caption for this picture reads:

No longer able to fight the enemy with bombs and missiles, these men were instead forced to wage war on other fronts. They endured miserable living conditions and resisted sadistic torture employed against them by the North Vietnamese in attempts to gain confessions of war crimes or break their spirit.

A lifetime ago, American pilots were sent to bomb North Vietnam as part of the Vietnam War. Some were shot down and captured. They endured years of captivity under some of the most horrible conditions imaginable. Like the current residents of Guantanamo Bay, they couldn't be sure if they'd ever leave.

Over at FireDogLake, Chacounne, also known as Heather, has written this:

As some of you know, my husband, Dan, was Vietnam vet who, I believe with all my heart, was a POW who was tortured by his North Vietnamese captors.

When he got back to the United States, doctors removed his toenails three times, in an attempt to irradicate the bamboo poisoning from where they had inflicted pain to try to get him to tell them the information he wanted. He never got a full night's sleep and his screams still haunt my nights. On the nights he didn't scream, sometimes he would be speaking Vietnamese, urgently pleading with someone. There was never enough food in the house to fill the psychological hole left by the food deprivation he had suffered. This became an especially large hole when he ended up on dialysis for the last two years of his life.

On June 12th, 2005, Dan had a heart attack and didn't come back, but he left me a legacy to fulfill.

When I see photographs or read news from Guantanamo Bay, or Abu Ghraib, or the dark sites around the world, all I see is my Dan naked and curled in a crumpled ball on the floor of a dirt cell, bloody and bruised and broken, incoherent with hunger and exhausted with sleep deprivation, unable to tell his family or his country where he is.

I cannot let torture be the law, policy and practice of the United States without standing up as strongly as I know how, in Dan's name. It is NOT what Dan fought for! It is NOT what Dan gave his physical health for! It is NOT what Dan gave his mental health for!

A Humble Invitation: Speaking at Harvard Against Torture

It shames me to think my country has come to this, and that it continues to elect politicians who won't put a stop to it.

Heather's been out there doing something about it, though, as have many good people in this country. She'll be speaking at Harvard University on November 24, 2008. If you can be there, pop on over to her article at FireDogLake and give her a shout.

UPDATE (Nov. 22): In case you're just finding this article today, Heather left a comment at the FDL link where the meeting will be:

The group is called:
The Anti-Torture Group of the Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights. We’ll be in Pound Hall, room 332.

If you can be there, introduce yourself, and tell her I said hi.


Dana Hunter said...

Damn, I missed this one, and it looks intense.

I've never understood how John McCain, having been tortured himself, could, for political gain, condone the torture of others.

I'm glad some are remembering why it's wrong. I'm glad they're reminding the rest of us what we should have remembered all along.

Cujo359 said...

I think we forget these things too easily, and too conveniently. I'm glad Heather's going to do this, and I'm sorry I can't be there to cheer her on.