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August 15, 2022

Veterans' Day

By Frederick Foote

Night Train:

Hey! This is For the Sake of Soul. The home of deep down and dirty blues that will blow your hat off, blow your skirt up and blow your cotton pickin mind. Good to be here! Glad to be black! To welcome you back, to our internet Veterans Day radio show. I'm Night Train, and the blues is my game. All you vets and families of vets and lovers and friends of our vets get your stories and tributes ready. Get your phones out. Hey ain't nobody better than Brother Ray to introduce our Veterans Day. Ray Charles, America the Beautiful.

The lights are flashin. I'm dashin. The night's young, and I got Sister Louise from Beantown on line one. You got the floor, Sister.


Night Train, I want to give a shout out to my brother Leroy who served in Viet Nam and to just say how proud I am of Leroy and my son Paul who served his country in two tours in Afghanistan in the Army. We're so lucky to get him back ... I know some soldiers didn't make it back and my heart and prayers are with their families and loved ones. God bless them all.

Night Train:

I feel you. You got a lot to be proud of. Leroy and Paul make us all proud. Line one. We got Captain Bill, US Air Force, on line one. Take us straight to the target, Captain.

Captain Bill:

Night Train, thank you so much for having me on and for having this Veterans Day program. I'm the first in my family to graduate from college, and the Air Force ROTC was instrumental in making college and my career as a pilot possible. I just want to salute all the brothers and sisters that made it possible for me to be a success in the Air Force. We honestly do stand on the shoulders of giants.

Night Train:

Yeah, amen, say it again. We gettin in the groove here. Line three is Kayla from Taos. What's up, Sister?


Night Train, are you for real, man? What's up with you and all of this militaristic bullshit? Why're you glorifying war, imperialism, racism, colonialization and the mass murder of civilians?

Night Train:

HEY! That's not what we're about here, Sister. We're recognizin the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who defended this country. We're celebratin the heroes who made your outburst possible. Sister, you need to step back.


No! You the one need to step back, Brother. The Vietnam War was a continuation of the colonial enterprise of the French. It was a monstrous cavalcade of pervasive atrocities. It was a war waged against civilians by our military forces in violation of the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It --

Night Train:

Wait a minute now. Are you denyin the bravery, courage, and sacrifice of our servicemen and women in Vietnam?


No, but you are using the bright light of that bravery to hide the dark and diabolical nature of the war that they fought.

Your celebration of Veterans Day is a cover-up of the mass murder of over half million civilians in Vietnam and thousands more in Iraq and Afghanistan and North, West, and East Africa.

Night Train:

Cover-up? This is not a cover-up of anything. Sister, you're way off base. We're here to show our love and support for those who fought for this country. That's it. That's all we about.


Night Train, that's exactly what this cover-up is. You look at one aspect of an event and claim that's the entire event. Civilians, the elderly, women, and children, all non-combatants are the primary victims of your wars. I do not see you bemoaning that fact anywhere in your conformist glorification of militarism.

Night Train:

Goddamn, girl! I think you are missin a beat here, Sister. Hang on. Stay on the line. I'm gonna to let some others respond to what you said. You got my blood boilin. I need a minute or two to cool off. Line two is Brenda. Talk to us, Brenda.


Kayla, you're off the wall, baby. You make it seem like all our troops are doing nothing but murdering civilians. And I know that's not the case. My brother served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was not murdering babies and civilians. He's an honorable man. He was an honorable soldier. So, you need to walk some of that stuff back.

Night Train:

I heard you, Brenda. And I think you speak for a lot of us. Thank you. Kayla, are you still there? Do you have a response?


Oh, I'm here. Brenda, about 1.3 million people died in the Vietnam War, and over 600,000 of them were civilians. Where's the honor in that? Non-combatants, the old, the young and women are the greatest victims of war. That's the truth you need to spread, Night Train.

Night Train :

Yeah, but both sides were guilty of killing civilians. I mean, you can't blame us for all of those deaths. It's not like we were tryin to kill civilians. Right, Brenda?

Brenda :

Kayla, you're so wrong in so many ways. I will pray for you, baby.

Night Train:

Thank you, Brenda. Thank you so much for sharin with us tonight. Line one. On line one I have Morgan. Go ahead, Morgan.


I was a grunt in World War II. I saw action in the Philippines. You want to talk about war-time atrocities you need to look at what the Japanese did in China and Southeast Asia. We kept the Japanese and the Germans from bringing that shit to these shores. Kayla needs to give us some credit for that.

Night Train :

Oh, yeah. Thank you, Morgan. Thank you for your service and for makin the case for our Veterans Day celebration.

Kayla, this is your last chance to comment. Go ahead.


I'm not denying individual bravery and courage. I'm sure there was plenty of that on all sides. There were about 80 million deaths from World War II, and over 50 million of them were civilians.

In Vietnam, we did intentionally kill civilians. We terrorized the civilians with our destruction of their homes and crops, our body count goals, our B52 bombings, and our Phoenix Program. We committed rape, murder, and torture on a massive scale. We have adapted Phoenix for Iraq and Afghanistan.

And, in World War II we dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, and our targets were almost exclusively the elderly, the disabled, women, and children.

That is the true face of our military today and yesterday.

Morgan, I served too, in the USAF from 1964 to 1968, and I would appreciate it if you spoke out about the atrocities on all sides.

Night Train:

Kayla, you a veteran too? Okay, all right. Morgan, any last words?


Hell, Kayla, I feel you, but I served in the segregated service. I came home to more Jim Crow and racial discrimination than you could shake a stick at.

I ain't blind. I see what's going on in the world. We attack colored people wherever we find em.

I see the government giving our police departments tanks and armored personnel carriers and other war weapons.

I know in my heart of hearts that all the torture and killing practice our troops getting in the Middle East and Africa they are going to bring home. And you know who the police and military are going to use that shit on.

I'm worried. Not for me, but for the younger generations.

Kayla, you right, war's hell on civilians. I give you that. You right as rain on that.

Night Train:

Thank you, Morgan, Captain Bill, and Brenda. Kayla, I disagree with you on most of what you said. But, there's no day or time set aside on the calendar to commemorate the civilian victims of war. There's no day set aside to look at the horror of our wars. So, maybe we are doing a little too much blind devotion to the the military, and not looking at how we might be misusin our service people.

Maybe that's why so many of our service people come back so messed up. I don't know.

Hell, this is not the party I thought it was gonna be.

I'm gonna take a break and catch my breath. And we can take a little break with Clarence Gatemouth Brown, the Sad, Sad Hour.

Wait, hold on a sec. I got one last caller we need to hear first. Ginger on line four. You got it, Ginger.


Thanks, Night Train. I joined the Army because my father, grandfather, and both brothers served in the US Army.

A drill instructor raped me in basic training. I never spoke up. I never reported it. I wanted to be a soldier so awful bad. I was ashamed to be so damn weak.

In Iraq I watched whole buildings with families, woman, children, old folks get blown to bits by our rockets and bombs. I remember a dying Iraqi girl about my age asking me, why were we there? Why were we doing this to them? I didn't and don't have a good answer.

I received two Purple Hearts.

In Iraq my sergeant sexually assaulted me. I fought back. I stabbed him thirteen times with my pocket knife. I should have used a bayonet. The son-of-a-bitch lived. I did five years in Leavenworth. I received a dishonorable discharge.

He got a slap on the wrist, promoted, retired with a pension.

All I ever wanted to do was serve my country. That's all. And, Night Train, you know, if I got the chance I would sign up again.

Thank you all for listening.

Night Train:

Great day in the mornin. Oh, sister, I feel for you deep down to the bone. I swear to God I do. There's so much more to say, but our time's runnin out. We got to go, but if you game I'll pick it up tomorrow night at the same time at the same place. I invite you back. So, stay black and stay strong. On line Three the Ghetto Poet will have the last word. Do your thing, brother.

Ghetto Poet:

Good night. It's all right. Thank you, brother for letting me be the link between this and the next show. Brother Ray had one vision of America, but I think he would have recognized my vision. With apologies to Katharine Lee Bates.


O dreadful tear-stained skies
for undulating waves of pain
for purple mountains poverty
Above the bloody plain

America! America!

God reels at the lack of grace in thee
till souls heavy with torture and shame
slumber under the slave-bearing sea

America! America!

God finds little grace in thee,
and dethrones thy evil bigotry
from sea to blighted sea.

Amen and goodnight.

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2018-01-01
Image(s) are public domain.
3 Reader Comments
11:59:41 AM
Sorry for the late post. Apparently I did not properly hit the send button last time. Good writing. It takes courage to point out that the Emperor's wardrobe is amiss, and since the Emperor seems intent on returning again and again to the same tailor, it is an endless task. May your art continue to speak out for justice.
Frederick Foote
04:07:17 PM
Thank you for your kind words.
04:53:54 PM
Nicely done. Vietnam vets were treated shamefully when they came home; now society has swung too far the other way. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate all that our vets have done. However, now all we see of the wars is the glory showered on the warriors. With Vietnam we saw the battlefield, we saw the dying. It was all played out on TV. Of the current wars, we see nothing. It's all hidden. Now we have 'embedded journalism', a way to make sure the press only sees what the government wants them to see. Feels like democracy is devolving.
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