“Should we fault the preachers as they reach for words designed to give comfort to those in their congregations mourning the deaths of so many young troops? As hard as it might seem, I believe we can do no other than fault — and confront — them. However well-meaning their intentions, their negligence and timidity in confronting basic war issues merely help to perpetuate unnecessary killing. It is high time to hold preachers accountable.”
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst.
1. The quote above is from an incredible article Ray McGovern recently wrote. It had to be written and I am quite certain it is not something he found easy to do. I found it very difficult to read even though I knew that his aim was true. And the truth hurts terribly sometimes. The article is entitled “They Died in Vain.”
And they did.
Thank God there are still some real Christians left in this world. IMHO, Reverend Mark Dankof of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in San Antonio is one of them. He dwells in a land of Christianity where it is very hard to find Christians. Below is his response to McGovern’s assertion on which I was fortunate enough to be cc’d. I have lightly edited it and post it here with Mark’s permission.
“The reason I write is to express my absolute affirmation of what you said, and how you said it, in your “They Died in Vain” piece for Antiwar.com. . . It is now on my Facebook page and on its way to my closest associates. While there is no way to match your prose, I’d like for you to take a look at my piece on the death of Marquis J. McCants in San Antonio in 2007. I re-posted it this year with some introductory comments made in February of 2011. . . . When your schedule permits, I’d like to know what you think of it.
“I am occasionally being summoned to the infamous Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC)/Fort Sam Houston here in San Antonio when a Lutheran clergyman is requested for an incoming Iraq/Afghanistan victim by a family, as opposed to the military chaplaincy alternatives out there. There are a few BAMC people who know who I am. The reason, according to a BAMC emergency nurse who served in Afghanistan (and who comes to my church, and whose husband lost an arm in Afghanistan), is that the McCants article was circulating around “town” when it was first published, especially among BAMC personnel and my late father’s colleagues at Randolph Air Force Base Chapel One. That was compounded by a few subsequent listeners to my radio show from the San Antonio Military Town USA community. Pardon my French but a more than a few folks were really “pissed off.” McCants’ aunt contacted me and said that she agreed with everything I said. The boy’s father, an Air Force enlisted lifer, came as close at the time as anyone I’ve ever seen in that milieu to saying publicly that he thought Bush was an idiot and the entire effort a complete waste of life. The whole sick episode was accentuated a year later on Memorial Day, when the San Antonio Express News photographed Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, giving Marquis McCants’s little daughter a special rose and medallion in honor of her father’s “supreme sacrifice.” You get the picture.
“One last anecdote. I was summoned to BAMC a couple of weeks ago, the ICU unit as usual. An Afghanistan war victim had arrived the previous day. He had lost both legs, one arm, and had sustained some sort of brain trauma. I presume an IED was responsible. His parents had just arrived from out-of-state and wanted a Lutheran clergyman. So I dutifully appeared.
“Two other persons appeared, an Army Protestant Chaplain (Captain), and a full Colonel (Chaplain). The Colonel did the talking.
“Every bromide, every canard, every sloganized lie you discuss in your latest essay which I read last night, came forth from this guy. Given the pastoral situation involved, I was engaged in a Herculean effort not to laugh in this guy’s face, especially with the kid’s parents going through this specialized form of spiritual, psychological, and emotional traumatization. It was a most memorable synthesis of the comical, the tragic, and the overtly demonic. I don’t know if I succeeded in disguising what I thought of this joker, and everything he had been saying. I did try.
“When it mercifully ended (I kept my own mouth shut throughout), I promised the parents that I would return if they desired, and gave them my cell number. I then tried to leave as tactfully as possible.
“The Colonel followed me to the elevator. He continued with the bromides in the elevator. I suspect he knew who I was and was trying to provoke me, or to get under my skin. Or maybe he just recites this stuff 24 hours a day, including in the shower in the morning and in front of the mirror.
“When we reached the lobby. I was first out the elevator door. Before heading out the front exit, I turned and looked straight at our Full Bird (refraining from giving him “The Bird“) and simply said, “Good night, Colonel.” I then turned and walked out.
“Did he get the message? Do any of these guys? Do they even care? Are the benefits and pay really good enough to surrender yourself to Satan?
“But then you already know the drill.
“So the “Church” is joining Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), the Israeli Lobby, the Energy Multinationals, the Central Banks, and our National Security Guardians. . . .
“I am tentatively taking a trip to Asia in late fall. It is combination of tourism and journalistic research. Who knows, I might end up staying.
“By the way, the ADL has now included me in their anonymous Internet libelings of various personages of legitimate protest in this country. Take a look at http://mark1marti2.wordpress.com/2011/01/28/544/ [Mark] Glenn and I will be working on shows on ADL spying in the United States, Mossad activities in Morocco, and the latest involving the MEK in Iran, among other things. . . .
2. “My husband, Mark loved this rendition by Melissa very much. He would listen to it over and over. Honey, I hope you are listening from Heaven tonight… To a great man, loving husband and father. You are missed. Rest In Peace Mark “Gunner” Martinez, a true hero and warrior. 29 December 1951 – 30 June 2011. Ride Forever Free…
“Love you always baby,
Taps with feeling.
Please take a moment and click on this one. You’ll be glad you did. You will also cry.