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Lawrence R. Velvel: The Long Line

Re: The Long Line.

From: Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
March 8, 2007

Walter Reed
Is a huge misdeed,
Yet not momentous
Nor portentous.
For it’s only the latest in the line
Of serial crime
That has victimized men
When they’re home again
From the wars.

After World War I
There was poverty
And then the attack
On the bonus army.
After World War II
The South’s racist crew --
Which meant nearly all Southern whites --
Kept blacks in suppression
With Jim Crow repression
Though they’d helped win the war
(At Iwo Jima, on D-Day, in the air, nearly everywhere).
This had happened before
After the Civil War
And the Spanish war --
Blacks always thought
That if they fought
And proved they were men
They’d be treated as befits a citizen.
But it was never to be
Until, in part to avoid World War III,
That is, in part as foreign policy,
They received rights that belong to the free.
And after Viet Nam,
When victimized men came home again --
Men victimized by Johnson’s stupidity
And his mendacity,
And by Nixon’s political cupidity,
And his mendacity
And his plain evil soul --
Once again men weren’t treated right
Though we’d sent them to Viet Nam to fight.
It should not have mattered
Whether one opposed the war
Or had filled the air with “Patriotic Gore.”
Men who carried the fight
Should have been treated right --
This is just decency --
But again they were not.
Most despicably not
When by superpatriot
Who had urged the war.
But culpably too by almost everyone else,
Especially seekers of political pelf --
The swine.
Will no one rid of us of them, as Shakespeare said?
Though I’m not suggesting that they should be dead
(As he did).
But only that a better class should arise
Even if this would greatly surprise.
So Walter Reed, you see,
Though in memory
Will be remembered for ignominy,
Is but the latest in a long line
Of misdeeds towards the men “Who shall have borne the battle” (as Lincoln put it).

Kipling had it right:
“‘[I]t’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that,’ an ‘chuck him out, the brute!’”
But it’s not “‘savior of ‘is country’when the guns [no longer] shoot.”
Then it’s the rat infested infirmary,
The holed and dirty room contrary
To everything we’ve learned since Koch.
It’s the careless incompetence of those who botch
The care they provide troops in their care,
And with bullshit excuses fill the air --
They and behind them everyone
Responsible for the atrocity that is Iraq,
For the disaster that’s Bush’s biggest crock
Of all the many he has foisted on us.
Will no one rid us politically
Of this horrid, mishapen monstrosity? *


This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel. If you wish to comment on the post, on the general topic of the post, or on the comments of others, you can, if you wish, post your comment on my website, All comments, of course, represent the views of their writers, not the views of Lawrence R. Velvel or of the Massachusetts School of Law. If you wish your comment to remain private, you can email me at

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