I used to hang a flag out on the porch on Flag Day. Dad would remind me to bring it and fold it properly before sundown. After all I was a cub-scout and knew the proper flag fold.
When I was raising my children I once again hung a flag out. Then Vietnam raised its ugly head and I wasn’t proud of the flag and what it stood for. I marched in protest against what we were doing to our young men and innocent men, women and children in a distant sovereign nation. Most of all I couldn’t believe we, the United States of America, would use a deadly poison like Agent Orange, which the United Nations stated was against the Geneva Protocol, and maim, kill, and infect millions of innocent victims. The Red Cross estimates that over 3 million Vietnamese people have been affected by Agent Orange including over 150,000 children born with birth defects. Agent Orange, TCCD, has been described as “the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man.” But our chemical warfare didn’t just harm Vietnamese. Our American soldiers were assured that this chemical was NOT hazardous (a huge lie at the time because Monsanto and Dow, the makers, had already informed the government back in the ‘50s how deadly toxic this crap was). Yet, tens of thousands of American troops were exposed and over time have had increased cancer, birth defects in their children and years of agony with no compensation from our government. We sprayed twenty million gallons of that deadly poison on over 6700 missions for almost ten years. In 1991 our government admitted there could be a connection to some diabetes cases plus the huge onslaught of strange large cancerous tumors that formed in kidneys and lungs and would metastasize slowly over 30 to 40 years. So far there have been well over 40,000 claims filed but it is next to impossible to prove that the cancerous tumors were a direct cause of Agent Orange. Less than a thousand claims have been allowed.
BAKERSFIELD NATIONAL CEMETERY
Today is FLAG DAY. As you read this I am eulogizing my brother-in-law, an American Bronze Star winner and a victim of Agent Orange. He is being laid-to-rest at the beautiful Veterans National Cemetery here in Bakersfield.
The doctors at UCLA Medical Center, when viewing the pictures of Gary’s kidney tumors, shook their heads like viewing old family pictures. They had seen them before in other Agent Orange victims.
Other friends of mine have had similar situations. Before I left Indiana to fly home for today’s funeral, a friend told me his sister spent four years pounding on Veteran’s Administration doors for insurance claims she deserved. After four years she has just been approved for a claim for her husband’s death due to Agent Orange.
It’s my opinion if we’re going to be the World Leader in the most carnage ever caused by Chemical Weapons, we should take responsibility for the damage. It seems we would rather spend another trillion invading another sovereign nation we claimed had Weapons of Mass Destruction…but didn’t.
Rest in Peace my brother-in-law. You were a fine man, loved by so many and will be remembered by us all, even if your government could care less.