Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

Constructive War Talk among Neighbors

Posted on Thursday, November 1, 2007 by 1 comment

I love learning things from neighbors on Front Porch Forum… including how to keep an open mind. Here’s a glance at a discussion over the past few days on one of the Old North End neighborhood forums in Burlington, VT.

First from Marissa… she posted about the cost of the Iraq war in dollars appropriated by Congress for each county in Vermont…

With the latest Bush Administration’s request, the total war spending in fiscal year 2008 would be nearly $200 billion, with the vast majority going towards the Iraq War. If Congress passes this proposal, total Iraq War spending would rise to $611 billion.

For Vermont:
Appropriated $663 million
FY2008 New Requests $226 million
New Possible Total $889.1 million

Cost of proposed new requests to CITIES/COUNTIES IN VT
Burlington: $11,700,000
Chittenden County: $63,500,000

Then Chris took her to task…

You know it’s interesting you mention that, did you ever think how much the war would’ve cost if the country was united behind the war and freeing the Iraqi’s from not only Saddam, but the Al Quida in Iraq?

Let’s see, surely, the Al Quida would’ve given up by now, seeing how there was no bleeding heart’s in America decrying the war and Democrats crying for soldiers to come home and Bush’s expulsion… You know, it seems to this 20 year veteren of the military and Veteren of Desert Storm, that the “Vietnam syndrome” wouldn’t have been the case senario. Don’t think for a second that isn’t true…

Which brought many predictable responses against the war, including some particularly compelling ones, like this from Paula…

I am a part of a military family, dating back to the Civil War. My grandfather (bless his heart) was dropped on the beaches of Normandy, watching his fellow men get shot to bits. He served again in the Korean War. When Vietnam loomed around the corner, he told his superiors that it was not a war he agreed with and he also didn’t want to take his third chance. With promises of making him a 2 Star General, he decided to retire, with honors, including three purple hearts.

When I asked him what he thought about this war/mess, he just silently shook his head back and forth. “I’m ashamed for this country. We have lost our national face on this. Nothing will ever be the same, except there will be more hatred in this world. And, mark my words, it will not just be from other countries, a majority of it will come from us and pointing the finger at each other; who’s right and who’s wrong. I’m sorry that you and future generations will have to deal with this mess.”

So, to Chris, what do you propose to make this easier for future generations? I just heard a lot of (hateful) words, but nothing of solid worth. And, this forum is for any issues that adults would like to talk about.

While the conversation grew heated, it never erupted into a full-fledged flame war. Chris really knocked my socks off with his follow up…

I must admit, I kind of knew I’d be stoking a fire, but I feel so strongly this way. My post wasn’t meant to involk hate, just express the endless frustrations of the missed opportunity to win this war so long ago. I admit, I view protesting as a right of the United States, but, still, I can’t help feeling the same anger I felt when I was in the first war. When I was in Saudi, durring Storm, the Burlington Free Press would be forwarded to our area. The news always carried pictures of those in front of the Post Office, or those in front of the Unitarian Church, decrying the war. My heart hurt…that’s no lie.

I still carry these feeling inside of me and feel the only way to support the troops, is to ease off on the public negitivity towards the Iraqi campaign. I have a whole company of friends that went to Iraq . This, two weeks after my retirement became final. I wanted so much to jump out there with a sign to support the war and the troops, but I kept my distance. I do apologize for over reacting, but you need to know the man behind the pain.

My National Guard company has recently returned, making me feel good that all are in one piece. I can’t for the life of it suddenly denounce my feelings. If I trounced on someone else’s feelings, that wasn’t meant. It just that soldiers are human too. They see and hear (the news) on the radio and television. Maybe we in Vermont should be aware of this fact. Thank you.

A sane, respectful, constructive conversation about a gut-wrenchingly divisive issue with hundreds of nearby neighbors listening in and several commenting.  I don’t see anything like this on the blogosphere, talk radio or the letters-to-the-editor pages.  This kind of exchange, unlike the polarizing stuff I see elsewhere, fills me with hope and glimmers of understanding of other viewpoints.

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