The poisons of war

Today my brother passed away. He was one of the latest and I hope one of the last casualties of the insult to civilization we call war. Not the current idiocy in Iraq, Or even the First adventure into that country. My brother was a lingering casualty of the war in Vietnam.

He did not perish as a result of enemy fire, but in a way he was downed by "friendly fire." He died of cancers related to a lovely little tool of jungle warfare called Agent Orange. While the Vietnam conflict may be old news, the stonewalling, lying, and lack of support that sealed his fate are as fresh as today's headlines.

Today our brave men and women at arms returning from Iraq are in a similar jeopardy. No, not Agent Orange, but a substance so much more insidious and deadly: depleted uranium, a metal that is commonplace in the tools of modern warfare.

This poisonous metal is being used in ammunition, artillery shells, tank rounds, and the armor plating on our tanks, APCs and even some Humvees. Like the Agent Orange of the Vietnam war, our military and civilian leaders tell us that this depleted uranium is safe. They say that the radiation levels are so low as to be benign. They tell us that today. Years down the line when these fine soldiers begin to develop tumors, leukemias, neurological disorders, and even worse, birth defects in their children, the denials and stonewalling will begin anew.

To my way of thinking, this is a shameful way to treat those who took up arms and answered their country's call. It will be on you, the husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, children, and those who feel gratitude for these people's sacrifices, to hold our leaders accountable.

It is my sincere wish that those of you welcoming your family members back home can stop this turning away of those responsible so that you need not lose and bury your own as I have had to.

J.M. Collins, Lebanon


Informant: Davey Garland


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März 2005

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