Local Instruction in National Pieties: “Wasting Seed Corn”

IED LandmineEditors Note: There is too much to say.  And it’s all already been said, written, sung, screamed.

Beginning on September 11 and continuing through September 20 the Herald-Times has printed 19 items that reference the death of a local youth sent soldiering.  Two of these are obituaries, the first incomplete due to lack of funeral arrangements, and one is an entry in “death notices”.  But they also include articles promoting the war technologies (“electronic warfare”) developed and manufactured locally with the 9/14 front page story stating that the Secretary Navy “sees a strong future” for war business and the local economy. Finally, this death is commemorated on the field of play as members of a football team decorate their armor to honor one of their own.

Below I have inserted highlighted text from these stories into the body of the essay.

September 11th has come and gone.  It was a momentous anniversary: the tenth.  A decade has passed since the attacks, and though the terrorists who perpetrated them also perished, and the credited “mastermind” of them has been killed, and the purported deadly terror network that spawned them has been reduced to insignificance, the United States of America continues to occupy and commit its own terror attacks with drones and CIA raids on civilians in several Middle Eastern countries.

The soldiers were serving a one-year stint in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan, which has more than 900,000 residents and is considered the heart of the Taliban. 

It is now likely safe to say even in the circles occupied by war proponents that the 9-11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were put to use by the Bush Administration as the emotional ground propelling us to feel comfortable of domestic support in order to commit aggressive acts of war against states not involved in the attacks as a means of global planning.  It is a historical fact that the Bush Administration no longer even denies. “The things being done here are not being done anywhere else.” They simply say they’d do it again.  “Every military family knows this is something you may eventually have to face but you try not to think about it.”

This tenth anniversary offered ample opportunity for the promoters of America’s true calling, world dominance by military force, to drape themselves in the mourning shroud of memory and call out citizens to honor the fallen, to honor the troops, and to forget that the continued hostilities, the continued deaths of soldier and civilian, are and have been criminal acts from which no national honor can be derived or discerned.  “My boys are heroes,” Wood’s father, Mitch Wood of Michigan, said later after his son’s casket was carried inside West & Parrish & Pedigo Funeral Home. “All the soldiers are my heroes.”

How we wish it were otherwise.

…which provides the Army with a lethal, deployable, survivable, and mobile option formed around the ten variants of our trademark Stryker vehicle. The Stryker Brigade fills the operational gaps between the Army’s light forces and the heavy forces still fielded with Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and is a key component of Army transformation.”

Locally we were offered memorials to the memory of the tower itself as a steel beam apparently from the Twin Towers made a stop in Ellettsville during their Fall Festival and like a pilgrimage to a holy site the mourners gathered.  “I contacted several businesses in Bloomington only to be told that if it didn’t help the community or wasn’t in some way affiliated with the company they would not allow us on their property….Is this how our community treats a fallen soldier who risked and lost?”

And the days leading up to the anniversary offered us chances to praise our local tolerance for our Muslim population post-atrocity.  “We are finding many more IEDs than ever before,” Mabus said. “We are saving a lot of lives”…He could not cite any numbers or statistics, but was confident…We are a good people we want to proclaim even if under out breath for fear the gods may hear us and bring the truth home to us in the same way we visit that “goodness” and “freedom” onto women and children and wedding parties in the form of uranium depleted munitions.  If the bullets don’t put holes in you the radiation and toxicity released upon impact will.  It promises combat soldiers an opportunity “to be on the cutting edge of Army operations.”

Recent statistics on Iraqi civilian deaths since our invasion have been various and range from the US Military’s low count of just over 100,000 and more recent estimates eclipsing the million mark.  If this were an actual military response to a “war” event it would be called “disproportionate” in the extreme.  “It’s certainly no stretch to say that there are a lot of sailors, marines, soldiers, airmen who are alive today because of the work you do here.”  Iraq, innocent of the attacks, whose dictator was America’s puppet, has been destroyed for reasons other than the 9-11 terror attacks.  The Wood brothers enlisted in the Army together in July 2010. Nikk Wood escorted his brother’s remains home from the war. And when was the last time you heard anything about the massive numbers of “responsible-to-no-one” mercenary forces the Pentagon has contracted and paid billions to “make war” outside the laws and treaties that are supposed to apply to the US in international conflict?

…19-year-old Wood, an infantryman from Spencer, died last week in Kandahar Province of injuries sustained “when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device while on a dismounted patrol.”

Insurgent: a person who rises in forcible opposition to lawful [local] authority, especially a person who engages in armed resistance to a [local] government or to the execution of its laws.

In how many countries are we engaged in armed combat?  Are we in each of these countries as a response to 9-11?  Or is it to spread democracy via strafing fire?  Or is it for some reason that can’t even hold the thin film of the veneer of “just cause” in the ways we apply it.  Crane [Warfare Center] has made itself essential, and is the kind of operation he will support in tough economic times that demand defense budget cuts he said are coming.

How do we convince ourselves otherwise?

In Bloomington we have been offered the death of a fallen soldier as our distraction from our relentless murdering aggression.  A death diffuses ones indignation; a death requires polite observance of mourning rights.  A decorated death, a color guard, a draped flag, works on your sense of propriety.  The military rituals command your silent respect at the very least.  We must say no to this.

While people around the nation commemorated the terrorist attacks of a decade ago that resulted in the war Wood died fighting, his family mourned the loss of a kid who became a soldier to help make the world a safer place.

Deaths in the name of what the United States has perpetrated in the world should not be honored.  The very real loss and the very real pain visited on the families of the dead must be mourned and regretted.  But we do them a disservice if we honor their actions in illegal wars fought under false and unjustified pretense.  “You protect your seed corn,” Mabus said. “You don’t eat your seed corn.”

A local boy named Brett Wood was killed in Afghanistan on September 9.  He was 19.  I am not talking about Brett Wood.  I am talking about how the deaths of boys and girls, men and women, are used to manipulate community mourning in a way that transforms it into patriotism and fervor for “righteous vengeance” even in the face of all evidence that it is far from righteous.

We join in mourning the death of Brett Wood, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his nation.

I would offer this too: that the death or wounding of a soldier in war is akin to that same death or injury on a factory assembly line or chemical plant or oil rig.  Soldiers are at base only labor and labor must be had cheap for profits to be high in our industrial military.  The further shame is that they serve an ideal of honor that is betrayed by the truth of our nation’s avarice and theft.

“I told the kids, ‘No matter what kind of day you had on the football field, the sun is going to come up tomorrow. We have to learn those character lessons.’ In high school athletics you have to deal with adversity and keep pushing forward. Win or lose, at the end of the day you get another day.

I have not heard or read anything as powerfully revelatory as to the soul of our empire as this song by The Thermals, “Power Doesn’t Run on Nothing”, a verse of which declares,

They’ll give us what we’re asking for,
Cause god is with us, and our god’s the richest
Our power doesn’t run on nothing,
It runs on blood,
And blood is easy to obtain when you have no shame
When you have no shame

For your consideration:

Binding Rules of War:  The Nuremberg Principles

Binding Rules of Humanity:  Universal Declaration of Human Rights

HT search listing the 19 stories from which the above highlighted sections were taken. Individual links to the 19 articles referenced:

1 Football notebook: Soldiers death a life lesson for PatriotsSeptember 20, 2011 – rank: 676
… lesson to impart. On Sept. 9, Private First Class Brett Wood was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan. Wood played one year of football for Potts, and his older bother Nikk Wood played all four years. Brett was well liked by his peers, Potts said. Say …
2 Soldiers funeral in Spencer TuesdaySeptember 20, 2011 – rank: 912
… Sept. 9 that his stepson, U.S. Army Pfc. Brett Wood, had been killed by a roadside bomb in southern … is not on the schedule here lately. Tuesday, the Wood family says goodbye to the 19-year-old soldier …
3 Obituaries: September 18, 2011September 18, 2011 – rank: 759
Terry Wayne Costin, 60 DEC. 23, 1950 SEPT. 15, 2011 MARTINSVILLE Terry Wayne Costin, 60, Martinsville passed away at 8:05 a.m. on Thursday, September 15, 2011, at Indiana University Health Methodist in Indianapolis. He was born Saturday, December 23, 1950, in Martinsville, Indiana, to Wayne Leon Costin, who survives …
4 Body of fallen Spencer soldier Brett Wood returns homeSeptember 18, 2011 – rank: 1000
PHOTO GALLERY The body of U.S. Army Pfc. Brett Wood returned home to Spencer Sunday morning. The 19-year … a roadside bomb in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. Wood was the 12th soldier from his combat brigade killed …
5 Crane playing role in preventing deaths from roadside bombsSeptember 18, 2011 – rank: 487
U.S. Army Pfc. Brett Wood was walking behind a fellow soldier earlier this year when a roadside bomb … who have lost their lives fighting in Afghanistan, detonated. Wood suffered a concussion. The other soldier lost both legs … they are called improvised explosive devices, or IEDs killed Wood, a 19-year-old infantry soldier in southern Af
6 Fallen Spencer soldier Brett Wood’s body to arrive Sunday morning at Monroe County AirportSeptember 17, 2011 – rank: 487
The body of U.S. Army Pfc. Brett Wood is expected to arrive at the Monroe County Airport at …
7 Todays death notices – Sept. 17, 2011September 17, 2011 – rank: 250
A list of death notices reported to the H-T today: Vernon Lorn Acton, 58, of Camby, died Thursday. Harold F. Cormack, 58, of Mitchell, died Friday. Terry Wayne Costin, 60, of Martinsville, died Thursday. Marjorie Louise Hughes, 90, of Bloomington, died Friday. Brandon Mark Keele, 35, of Bloomington, died Aug …
8 Letter: Fallen soldierSeptember 18, 2011 – rank: 447
… to do something for the family of fallen soldier Brett Wood and his family from Spencer. My cousins knew him … allow my cousin to sit and sell Bands for Brett, but unfortunately they have been the only business to …
9 A.M. news preview: United Way kickoff, viewing information for fallen Spencer soldier Brett WoodSeptember 16, 2011 – rank: 250
Rebecca Troyer shares what reporters are working on today and this weekend in this short video preview from the newsroom.
10 Fallen Spencer soldier Brett Wood funeral service set for Tuesday at Owen Valley High SchoolSeptember 16, 2011 – rank: 723
SPENCER Funeral services for Army Pfc. Brett Wood will begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Owen Valley High School. MORE: Spencer soldier Brett Wood, 19, was killed in heart of Taliban territory in Afghanistan EARLIER: Body of Spencer soldier Brett Wood returns to US Spencer soldier killed in Afghanistan The …
11 Spencer soldier Brett Wood, 19, was killed in heart of Taliban territory in AfghanistanSeptember 15, 2011 – rank: 803
Army Pfc. Brett Everett Wood was the 12th soldier from his combat brigade killed in Afghanistan since the 4 … Division at Alaskas Fort Wainwright said 19-year-old Wood, an infantryman from Spencer, died Friday in Kandahar Province …
12 Obituaries September 15, 2011September 15, 2011 – rank: 396
Kevin Eugene Phelps, 46 FEB. 25, 1965 SEPT

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. 12, 2011 On Monday, September 12, 2011, our Son, Brother, Uncle, Nephew, Grandchild, Cousin, and Friend, Kevin Eugene Phelps of Bloomington, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 46. Kevin was born in Indianapolis on Feb. 25, 1965, to Herschel Phelps and Shirley …

13 A.M. news preview: More on fallen Spencer solider Brett Wood, city hate crimesSeptember 14, 2011 – rank: 250
Mike Leonard shares what reporters are busy working on today in this short video preview from the newsroom.
14 Today’s death notices Sept. 14, 2011September 14, 2011 – rank: 250
… Chandler, Ariz., died Aug. 31. U.S. Army Pfc. Brett Everett Wood, 19, of Spencer, died Friday. Merle E. Tucker, 82 …
15 Area soldiers death another 9/11 tragedySeptember 13, 2011 – rank: 501
… attacks on the United States. On Friday, Sept. 9, Brett Wood of Spencer gave his life for his country. He … want to join the military and defend his country. Wood and his brother, Nikk, enlisted in the U.S …
16 On visit, Secretary of Navy predicts strong future for CraneSeptember 13, 2011 – rank: 250
CRANE Praising workers for their contributions to the war effort that keep Americas soldiers safe, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus Tuesday predicted a strong future for the southern Indiana military facility that employs 3,000 people whose jobs range from defusing old bombs to engineering sophisticated ballistic missiles. It is …
17 Body of Spencer soldier Brett Wood returns to USSeptember 12, 2011 – rank: 723
Brett Wood shipped out to Afghanistan on April 22. His sister Amber Poland remembers because it was the day before his 19th birthday. Wood was well trained, a member of the U.S … soldiers are called Arctic Wolves. Before deploying to Afghanistan, Wood received specialized training at the Armys National Training Center …
18 Owen County family mourns fallen soldierSeptember 12, 2011 – rank: 989
SPENCER Brett and Nikk Wood joined the U.S. Army together last year, survived boot camp side by side … in grief. Family and friends of 19-year-old Brett Wood lit candles Sunday night in memory of the Spencer … mother, Malissa Frye of Spencer and his father, Mitch Wood of Michigan, flew to Dover Air Force Base in …
19 Spencer soldier killed in AfghanistanSeptember 11, 2011 – rank: 774
SPENCER Family and friends of 19-year-old Brett Wood are lighting candles in their homes tonight at 10 … of a decade ago that resulted in the war Wood died fighting, his family mourned the loss of a …



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  1. dpopp September 20, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    That’s an effective literary style… those poor parents. I wonder if Michael Moore was thinking of that song.

    1. Douglas Storm September 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      When I first mentioned his death in a post I said that I cannot imagine a worse pain and regret.


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