Ideals of Nation Keepers
Vineyard Gazette - January 10, 2003
By Sam Low
resignation of Henry Kissinger as chairman of President Bush's
panel to investigate the 9/11 tragedy reminded me of a recent
emotional encounter with a painting. It was by the artist Howard
Pyle - who influenced Andrew Wyeth - and it hangs in Pennsylvania's
Brandywine River Museum. The painting is entitled "The
a low angle, Pyle depicts a diagonal slash of Continental Army
soldiers crossing a grassy sward. In the foreground, a young
man holds his musket at 'present arms.' He yells something.
Next comes a drummer - a teenager - his sticks in hand, his
gaze fixed ahead. There's a fifer, a torn flag not yet unfurled
for battle, a horseman astride a bucking mount. Sword drawn,
an officer leads them. In his middle years, slightly balding,
his expression is locked in the fullness of his commitment.
The marchers are a bedraggled lot, a ragtag outfit dressed in
whatever came to hand - or was left to them after many campaigns.
They are veterans all - grimy, tattered and torn, some hatless.
They are the Nation Makers.
found myself in tears.
don't often cry - much less when confronting a simple work of
art. And especially one so unabashedly romantic and patriotic.
cried because I know these men.
are the ones I grew up with, graduated high school and college
with, and went off with to war in distant Southeast Asia. They
are the same lot who came back blighted and holed in spirit
- if they came back at all. They are the Nation Keepers. They
suffered and died - as did the Nation Makers - in the fulsomeness
of belief in their country and the rightness of its mission.
Pyle's vision - I could no longer ignore how our present government
is trampling the gift of the Nation Makers and the Nation keepers.
I was overwhelmed.
wept for them all.
wept because they were brave and they are gone. And because
they were deceived. And one who helped mightily to deceive them
is Henry Kissinger.
Kissinger's resignation does little to assuage outrage over
his appointment in the first place. He cites conflict of interest.
of Interest did not bother Henry Kissinger a whit when it came
to his treasonable actions during the Viet Nam war. While he
was a Democrat and working for Lyndon Johnson, on the eve of
the 1968 election, he secretly convinced the South Vietnamese
to withdraw from peace talks. The Democratic administration
was discredited. Nixon was elected. Kissinger promptly changed
parties to join the new Republican government.
a result of the Kissinger/Nixon interference in the peace process,
the Viet Nam war dragged on for seven more years. Twenty Thousand
American Nation Keepers perished, as did hundreds of thousands
of others. These facts are documented in two Harper's magazine
articles and a book entitled "The Trials of Henry Kissinger"
by Christopher Hitchens, and in a newly released BBC documentary.
They have never been refuted.
with peace negotiations during wartime is treason. Simply stated,
Bush saw fit to choose a self-serving traitor to investigate
the worst terrorist disaster in our history.
of interest indeed.
real motive behind Kissinger's withdrawal was that even President
Bush - isolated as he seems to be from the real world - must
have realized that Henry's past had caught up with him. Or perhaps
he was swayed by the rising chorus of disapproval from the relatives
of our 9/11 dead. They know that with Kissinger - the master
of coverup and deceit at its head - the panel would have never
revealed what truly went wrong on September 11th, 2001.
for yourselves on the faces of Pyle's Nation Makers. As you
do, consider all those young men and women who have gone off
to war to set free their fellow brothers and sisters. To guarantee
liberty for all. To break the tyranny of kings and dictators.
To stamp out the despotism of mercantile monopolies that hold
in thrall the honest rewards of human sweat. Consider the high
goals and aspirations of America that compelled these early
Nation Makers - and all those who have followed - to risk their
lives on fields of battle.
from the Bush White House comes the rattling of sabers and muskets.
But this time, the rattling and bluster comes from men and women
who have never faced an enemy bullet in their lives. From those
in our society who represent the arrogant and overstuffed elite
that the Nation Makers confronted across their raised muskets.
From a cabal motivated by self and not by other. The whole sanctimonious
lot of them. How dare they appeal to patriotism? To the values
of the Nation Makers and the Nation Keepers? To the high purpose
of our constitution and our declaration of human rights? How
generation of Nation Keepers believed they were carrying on
traditions laid down by these earlier Nation Makers. My generation
was deceived. The deceit continues.
wonder, I cried.