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May 29, 1987 - Image 7

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly Summer Weekly, 1987-05-29

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PERSPECTIVES
The Michigan Daily Friday, May 29, 1987 Page 7
Stark realities and the meaning of Memorial Day

By Timothy Huet
Considering how much practice
Ronald Reagan has gotten in the
grim reaper role, his eulogizing
should have reached greater heights
by now. Reagan's policing of the
world has left dead Americans in
Lebanon, Central America,
Grenada, the Meditarranean Sea
(near Libya), and, now, the Persian
Gulf. His eulogy for the killed
sailors of the U.S.S. Stark was the
sixth such speech the president has
delivered "in honor" of dead service
people.
Yet, Reagan and his speech
writers could not come up with
anything better to tell the latest
grieving families than that their
loved ones were "heroes" because
they died for the cause of "our
strategic interests." From a man
who has compared the Contras to
the Founding Fathers and called
Oliver North "a national hero,"
cheap accolade has become common
Yet, for Reagan to come so
close to saying "your loved ones
died for oil" is a little more notable.
What a time for Reagan to start
telling the truth! The great tragedy
of the Stark is that its young crew.
members died without anything
approaching worthy cause.
With great fulminations about

resolve to protect "our strategic
interests," Reagan dedicated the
recent Memorial Day to the Stark's
casualities. This, to me, demon -
strates a warped understanding of
what Memorial Day means.
This is not to say that the
Stark's casualities did not merit the
dedication. Indeed, I fell that the
death of these young men is a grim
reminder of why we need a
Memorial Day. Memorial Day
should not be only an occasion to
remember death in the past but
think of life in the future. Our
resolve should not be to risk further
lives but to prevent further deaths.
If we can learn this lesson from the
Stark tragedy the incident will not
be so meaningless.
The recent death of another
member of the United States Armed
Forces should also serve to rekindle
memories of the past and fear for
the future. Two months ago, Staff
Sgt. Gregory A. Fronius was killed
in an attack on a Salvadoran army
base. Sgt. Fronius' passing was not
marked with the wailing and
gnashing of teeth that has followed
the Stark tragedy. Indeed, the White
House has been conspicuously
demur in its mourning of Sgt.
Fronius. It's been quiet - too
quiet.
Perhaps the administration's
silence can be attributed to the
embarassing nature of Fronius'

death. Fronius, an "American
adviser," was killed in a devastating
attack by Salvadoran rebels on what
was touted as an impregnible
government stronghold. The rebels
killed 44 government soldiers and
wounded 35 while themselves
suffering only 8 losses. The bold
attack belied claims from San
Salvador and Washington that the
rebels had grown impotent.
But the attack and Sgt. Fronius'
subsequent death were problematic
to the administration for more
reasons than that they revealed
government analysis as propaganda.
News ,of United States advisers
dying in far away lands while the
White House claims imminent
victory stirs powerful memories and
emotions. Sgt. Fronius was the
sixth United States soldier to be
killed in El Salvador since 1983 and
those who have learned the painful
lessons of Vietnam fear that this is
only the beginning. Those too
affected to forget remember that
America's escalation in Vietnam
began with the introduction of
United States military advisers.
The American public was
assured that the advisers were
neither in danger or heralds of
deepening involvement. Soon
America witnessed increasing
numbers of advisers and corpses. As
the number of advisers grew so did
the level of involvement and

danger. Advisers began to
accompany combat missions. The
rest, as they say, is history.
One can clearly see this pattern
developing in El Salvador. At this
point, there are 55 United States
soldiers in El Salvador designated as
military advisers. But U.S.
embassy officials in the country
acknowledge that there are about
100 soldiers in the country at one
time, and some analysts believe
that there may be more. The
administration has been able to
quietly increase the number of
personell by such machinations as
assigning "non-military" military
advisers and overlapping the stays
of official advisers.
These military advisers are
officially forbidden from going on
combat missions but The New
York Times reports that "In
practice...American advisers have
often gone on combat patrols..."
(March 31). The lesson of history
is clear. Some learn it. Others have
to be hit over the head with a brick.
Then there are those who have been
hit by that brick - Vietnam - and
have refused to learn.
There are some, current
government officials among them,
who choose not to learn from
history but to revise it. This is the
significane and danger of
Ramboism. Vietnam is dismissed
with the simplistic "explanation"
that the 'politicians stabbed us in
the back.' We are told that the U.S.
military could have won the war if

it was not for the weak politicians
and pampered protesters at home.
It is correctly noted that, in
Vietnam, U.S. forces never were
militarily defeated ina major battle.
It is correctly noted that while only
about 50,000 American soldiers
died in the war about 2,000,000
Vietnamese were killed. Yet, the
incorrect conclusion is drawn from
this.
Yes, by military standards, the
U.S. was winning the war. The
Vietnamese had suffered more than
4 times as many deaths than the
United States. But that is exactly
the point! The Vietnamese lost
2,000,000 people and were still
willing to fight! They had lost
2,000,000 people and the ranks of
the Viet Cong continued to swell.
Some have not yet learned that you
can win all the battles and still lose
the war.
Oppressive conditions, supported
by the U.S., forged a people which
would endure great suffering
because they had no other choice.
The U.S. could not win the war
because it could not defeat a people.
The same truth holds today in El
Salvador. To those who have
learned the lessons of history, there
are a few words which possess great
meaning. It would do well for
others to ponder their significance:
A people united will never be
defeated! No more Vietnams!
Huet is the Daily Opinion Page
Editor.

LETTERS:
To the Daily:
I was shocked by what I read in
the April 13 edition of the Daily. I
am referring to the article "Women
harass men for class project." The
article explained that nine women
from a Women's Studies 240 class
held a demonstration on the Diag in
which they yelled vulgar and
obscene catcalls at male passersby;
their purported aim was "to make
the point that most women are not
flattered by catcalls." In the past I
have heard certain men make
catcalls to female passersby and I
agree that such behavior is not
tolerable and neither is it flattering.
' However, for the women of the
Women's Studis 240 class to stoop
to that level seems to me
inexcusable. Surely women of such

high intellectual and educational
caliber as attend the University of
Michigan can think of a more
appropriate response to such rude
and degrading behavior.
One might wonder what exactly
the women who put on this
demonstration where learning.
Perhaps it was that revenge is
sweet. Or possibly they learned that
if you cannot beat them, join them.
One might also wonder about the
professional credentials and sound -
ness of judgement of the faculty
member of the Women's Studies
Program who not only sanctioned
the demonstration but is giving the
women who put on the
demonstration academic credit for it.
Shame on you women of the
Women's Studies 240 class! Shame
on you faculty of the Women's
Studies Program! Shame on us all!
-Paul Gensheimer
April 14

To the Daily:
Friday, April 17, was a sad day
for Michigan. One of its most
august institutions, the University
of Michigan, voted to eliminate the
clause in the research guidelines
that prohibited research destructive
to human life. Meanwhile, three
new "Centers of Exellence" for
Department of Defense research are
being created on the campus.
Despite statements signed by 95
clergy, including 7 bishops; 200
statements by U of M faculty; a
clear mandate by the students; and
8 months of intesive lobbying by
students, faculty, religious, and
community leaders urging the
extension of the "end use" clause,
the regents chose to walk the road
of opportunism. Whatever the
euphemisms, we all know that the
bottom line here is money.
It is a bitter pill to swallow
when the adults, the role models,
will sell themselves, anything,
even their children's futures for the
hope of contracts.
On Easter Day, it feels that
much sadder that only two of the
regents, Paul Brown of Petoskey
and Virginia Latta Smith of Grosse
Ile, had the courage to choose
humanity over materialism.
--Arlene Victor
April 19

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OW1LY OWE MS WoN& PleCE

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