We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Some of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

AN UNCOUNTED CASUALTY OF WAR

by MARKIN Wednesday, May. 09, 2007 at 12:17 PM

COMMENTARY

THERE IS NO WALL IN WASHINGTON-BUT, MAYBE THERE SHOULD BE



This space is usually devoted to ‘high’ politics and the personal is usually limited to some experience of mine that has a direct political point. Sometimes, however, a story is so compelling and makes the point in such a poignant manner that no political palaver is necessary. Let me tell the tale.

Recently I returned, on some unrelated business, to the neighborhood where I grew up. The neighborhood is one of those old working class neighborhoods where the houses are small, cramped and seedy, the leavings of those who have moved on to bigger and better things. The neighborhood nevertheless reflected the desire of the working poor in the 1950’s, my parents and others, to own their own homes and not be shunted off to decrepit apartments or dilapidated housing projects, the fate of those just below them on the social ladder. While there I happened upon an old neighbor who recognized me despite the fact that I had not seen her for at least thirty years. Since she had grown up and lived there continuously, taking over the family house, I inquired about the fate of various people that I had grown up with. She, as is usually the case in such circumstances, had a wealth of information but one story in particular cut me to the quick. I asked about a boy named Kenny who was a couple of years younger than I was but who I was very close to until my teenage years. Kenny used to tag along with my crowd until, as teenagers will do, we made it clear that he was no longer welcome being ‘too young’ to hang around with us older boys. Sound familiar.

The long and the short of it is that he found other friends of his own age to hang with, one in particular, from down the street named Jimmy. I had only a nodding acquaintance with both thereafter. As happened more often than not during the 1960’s in working class neighborhoods all over the country, especially with kids who were not academically inclined, when Jimmy came of age he faced the draft or the alternative of ‘volunteering’ for military service. He enlisted. Kenny for a number of valid medical reasons was 4-F (unqualified for military service). Of course, you know what is coming. Jimmy was sent to Vietnam where he was killed in 1968 at the age of 20. His name is one of the 58,000 plus that are etched on that Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington. His story ends there. Unfortunately, Kenny’s just begins.

Kenny took Jimmy’s death hard. Harder than one can even imagine. The early details are rather sketchy but they may have involved drug use. The overt manifestations were acts of petty crime and then anti-social acts like pulling fire alarms and walking naked down the street. At some point he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. I make no pretense of having adequate knowledge about the causes of mental illnesses but someone I trust has told me that such a traumatic event as Jimmy’s death can trigger the condition in young adults. In any case, the institutionalizations inevitably began. And later the halfway houses and all the other forms of control for those who cannot survive on the mean streets of the world on their own. Apparently, with drugs and therapy, there were periods of calm but for over three decades poor Kenny struggled with his inner demons. In the end the demons won and he died a few years ago while in a mental hospital.

Certainly not a happy story. Perhaps, aside from the specific details, not even an unusual one in modern times. Nevertheless I now count Kenny as one of the uncounted casualties of war. Along with those physically unwounded soldiers who can back from Vietnam service unable to cope with their own demons and sought solace in drugs and alcohol. And those who for other reasons could no adjust and found themselves on the streets, in the half way shelters or the V. A. hospitals. And also those grieving parents and other loved ones whose lives were shattered and broken by the lost of their children. There is no wall in Washington for them. But, maybe there should be. As for poor Kenny from the old neighborhood. Rest in Peace.

Report this post as:

© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy