I don’t believe I ever liked the movie “Forrest Gump” all that much nor do I consider it as unforgettable as do critics and an enormous part of its adoring public. Yet, I readily acknowledge that one of its characters, Lieutenant Dan, was very memorable.

Played by Gary Sinise, Lieutenant Dan was Forrest’s platoon leader in Vietnam who lost his legs during the battle where the character “Bubba” was killed and Gump’s heroics saw him awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

After an understandable period of great despair, Lieutenant Dan progressed to where he helped Gump fulfill the dream of Bubba to have his own shrimping business. Subsequently both men became very rich.

Lieutenant Dan’s story is inspirational as a person who has overcome great physical disablity and his own demons to return to, not merely productivity, but true success and not just monetarily.

One segment on this evening’s 60 Minutes featured Gary Sinise  who has parlayed his movie personna into a wonderful effort to assist real life war amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan to live as near a normal life as possible once their initial recovery period from their wounds is in the past.

A large part of his efforts are channelled through the LT. Dan Band, a cover rock band named, obviously, for his character.

The band has accompanied Sinise on USO tours to war zones and they play many events throughout the year, a major portion as charitable benefits. As shown on 60 Minutes one way the funds raised are spent is to build accessible homes for amputees. One veteran who lost both arms AND both legs gave a tour of his home under construction which included an elevator.

Another double leg amputee was profiled who proudly turned down housing assistance as he felt that he was doing just fine and other veterans could use that aid more. He did accept an opportunity to appear on Sinise’s TV show, CSI:NY, where he played a murder suspect. His scene saw Sinise and a fellow cop approach him in a garage where is on a roller sled working underneath a car. He pulled himself out and rose to stand on his artifical legs on his own power.

These heartwarming stories of both the veterans and Sinise’s work on their behalf arouse in me not only sympathy, but also make me question whether I would have the strength to live normally in the aftermath of such devastaing injuries.

But given even minimal time to reflect, my ire is aroused in excess of my sympathy.

Whatever their capacity to put being maimed behind them, these men and women should never have been exposed to such danger at all. Placing them in harm’s way did nothing to advance the security of the United States.

Our combat troops are now fully withdrawn from Iraq but remain on the firing line in Afghanistan, that shithole only occasionally emerged from the sixteenth century tribal life that is its past present and future.

Much has been made of the lessons supposedly learned from our misadventures in Vietnam. Bullshit. Those lessons were presented and immediately forgotten, just as material on a pop quiz in college is soon relegated to the near inaccessible dark regions of the mind.

Both our military and civilian leaders are easily willing to assure us that “this time it will be different”. It is not and has not and will not be different so long as we take a perceived but remote security threat to our homeland and use it as justification  to invade another weak, semi-uncivilized country with a government or  leadership factions which are easily demonized.

No Domino Theory, no Axis of Evil, no WMD’s have the power to destroy us.

Instead we use these catch phrases that result in the deaths and maiming and psychological destruction of far too many thousands  of our own outstanding and brave young people.

I want the day to come soon when the fundraising efforts of Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band can be directed elsewhere as the need to apply them to disabled veterans becomes obsolete.

No more Lieutenant Dans!

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  • little_minx  On May 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    “…[I] question whether I would have the strength to live normally in the aftermath of such devasta[t]ing injuries..”

    Prior to your coronary event, I bet you wouldn’t have imagined you could endure and come back from such invasive and traumatic surgery, either. Yet you did — probably because you found the alternative(s) untenable. Ditto for me with my life-threatening illness.

    • umoc193  On May 14, 2012 at 6:10 AM

      I appreciate that thought as a compliment, but, and I’ve discussed this briefly at times on ROW or pointed to prior posts here, my depression and my current survival from it are more indicative of struggling through abject adversity than any physical illness or injury I’ve experienced. I’m still not certain I would liken it to the extraordinary examples set by these men and women.

      My demons are my demons, far more self-imposed than by foreign forces out to kill me.

  • little_minx  On May 14, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Yes, dear UMOC, it was intended as an unqualified compliment to your perseverance and courage. How could anyone with half a brain who’s been through an ordeal like either of ours NOT be depressed sometimes? Such a person would have to be downright stupid not to know any better, because sometimes depression IS the sane response, dammit! Keep on keeping on.

    • umoc193  On May 14, 2012 at 11:25 PM

      The depression is a separate issue and is very long standing, 45 or more years. As you probably noticed in my tale of my heart troubles, I deal with that with a lot of humor. That hasn’t always been the case.

      A couple of ancient posts address that and I may feel like writing more about it in the near future. I would do so for the reason not to explain myself, but to relate my experience to our mental health system.

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