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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Using the military to pull at heartstrings during holidays in poor taste

By Letters to the Editor

It was December of 1970 and after 11 months I was as accustomed to Vietnam as I was going to get. Dec. 25 came. A few guys said “Merry Christmas” but basically it was just another day.

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Looking back, I’m glad there was no joyous celebration. We were occupying a country and causing massive death and destruction, so the stories and visuals of Christmas would have been hypocrisy. Peace on earth. Good will to all. That was not our mission.

I find it disturbing, especially at this time of year, when those in power use the young people in the military to pull on our heartstrings to further their agenda. Everyone in the military is not a “hero." The real heroes are those who seek to solve conflicts with dialogue vs. destruction. It takes great courage and ability to face your adversary with the tools of understanding and mutual respect. Violence is mindless - just pull a trigger or push a button.

The “evil ones” are not the people, or even the leaders of Iran, Syria, North Korea or whoever is the next U.S. target. The evil ones are the cowards within the U.S. who push for war, who push to send our young people to kill and destroy, while they plot to amass their fame and fortune.

I met Claude Anshin Thomas a few years ago. He was a door gunner in Vietnam. In his book, “At Hell’s Gate," he says. “Peace is not the absence of conflict; it’s the absence of violence within conflict.” This holiday season please think about that.

Arnold Stieber

Grass Lake



Mon, Dec 24, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

I know many Vietnam vets have bitter memories of their service, but to belittle the service of other is not right. The NVA and Viet Cong killed thousands and thousands civilians, yet you never call them the names you call Americans. The American Military has make it possible for millions to live in freedom today. The young men and women today who join the service deserve our respect and yes they are America's heroes. I wish all of them and all of our veterans a very Merry Christmas and the best of the new year. Arnold I wish you the best and I wish you were not so bitter about your service. M. Davis, 1st Marine Air Wing, Vietnam, 1970

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

Some of us express our appreciation for the members of our armed forces throughout the year. I hope that's OK with Arnold Stieber. This piece sounds like it was written in response to a particular event, but I'm not sure what that is.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Arnold, I agree with you as do a lot of our fellow Viet Nam Era Vets. Don't let some of these ignorant comments dishearten you. They didn't serve, did not experience the contempt, lack of support, incompetent leadership, low pay, being drafted against their will, inadequate training, inadequate weaponary, and lack of communications that we did during that time. Many of these commenters can't even comprhend the hardship and mayham, and worse yet, they think they can. Many of us still reserve bad feelings of Viet Nam. Hang in there and glad you made it back.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 6:31 a.m.

You're right, being in the military doesn't make one hero automatically a hero. Violence isn't laudable.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 6:32 a.m.

Woops, I guess I can't type.

Bob Krzewinski

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 3:42 a.m.

Funny how people criticize Arny yet will not even use their real name.

Grey Man

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

Typical vitriol from an angry little man like Arnold Stieber. No one likes war Mr. Stieber, least of whom are the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who are simply following orders. They remain heroes because they have to fight two wars at the same time, one across the pond, and another against angry little people like you who cannot let go of the 60's. And by the way, it's CHRISTmas, not "the holidays".


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 1:57 a.m.

well, actually, there are several "holidays" in December that are not Christian...


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

We all live with our ghosts of Christmas past; but to translate the experience into a general admonition to the rest of us, is really a stretch.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 11:28 p.m.

Connecting this rant to "the holidays" is a bit of a stretch.

John of Saline

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

If you don't think the leaders of North Korea (as an example) are evil, then you're not paying attention. Starving their own people so that they can live in luxury? That's evil.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Sounds exactly like what's coming our once the Walmarting of America is complete

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

Sounds a lot like the GOP


Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

seldon: I am a Vet and from the Viet Nam era, how about you?

Arnold Stieber

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

If you're refering to me - Arnold Stieber - then I suggest you reread my letter. Peace - Gandhi style.

Top Cat

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Arnold, you are free to articulate and savor the anger and bitterness of your military service of long ago. However, there are thousands of US service men and women serving honorably to keep us and others safe. Those of us who have relatives serving are proud of them. And I imagine most of our soldiers would still wish you a Merry Christmas.

Arnold Stieber

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Military isn't "service". Service is doing something good for someone - like the person who fixes your car. The purpose of the military is conflict resolution by death and destruction. Not flattering, but that's the bottom line. Those in the military are used as pawns. Suggest you read "War is a Racket" by the most decorated Marine in history - two time Medal of Honor recpient Major General Smedley Butler.