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Man Without a Country

     The Man Without a Country was a short story written in 1863 by Edward Everett Hale. It was intended to be a bit of propaganda for the Union during the Civil War. 

     It is the story of an American soldier named Philip Nolan, who renounced his country during a trial for treason. In the story, he is sentenced to spend the rest of his life at sea without ever hearing any news of the United States or even to have it mentioned. That’s why he was a man without a country.

     Through the years at sea, he went from being bitter about the United States, to desperately wanting his country back. Despite never escaping his sentence, he decorated his room on the ship, with a flag and a picture of George Washington. Later in the story, after he is found dead, the shipmates learn that he had written his own epitaph that patriotically stated:

                                In memory of PHILIP NOLAN, Lieutenant in the Army of the United States. He loved his country as no other man loved her; but no man deserved less at her hands.

     I write this blog because I recently watched a Frontline/PBS show titled United States Of Secrets. It’s the story of the United States Intelligence war on terror, and what was accepted as necessary to provide a secure country.

     There were many in the intelligence community, as well as Constitutional scholars, who believed that the rights of citizens were being trampled. One former NSA employee decided to do something about it. In response, Eric Snowden has become a man without a country.

     You can see it on Netflix. It’s certainly thought-provoking. If the assertions in the show are correct, than the government knows about my blog. And, it might also surprise you to learn the lengths that some businesses will go, to understand your search and spending habits.     

     And our pic o’ is also a bit of snoring technology.

taser

Happy Birthday, U.S.

     D.L. Moody tells the story of a young boy that was raised in an English orphanage, in the 1800’s. He had never learned to read or write except that he knew the letters of the alphabet.

     One day, a minister came by the orphanage and told the children that if they prayed to God when they were in trouble, he would send help.

     After a time, the boy was old enough by work standards then, to be apprenticed to a farmer. He was sent out into the field to find the farmer’s sheep. Since this was something new to him, he was having a hard time. He remembered what the minister had said about how God would help him.

     A man walking by the hedge, heard a voice. He look behind the hedge and saw the boy on his knees, saying, “A, B, C, D” with the remaining alphabet.

     The man asked the boy what he was doing. The boy looked up from his prayer and said to the man that he was praying.  The man looked at him and said, “That’s not praying. you’re just saying the alphabet”. 

     The little boy told the man what the minister had said about praying for help. He said that he wasn’t exactly sure what to say in his prayer, but if he named the letters of the alphabet,  he figured that God would put them together and know what he wanted.

     When the wording of the Declaration of Independence was formally approved on July 4, the thirteen colonies were saying “No More” to the British Empire. They concluded the document with the following:

     “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each  other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” 

    Today, we see a nation that is politically divided. I sometimes feel a bit helpless as I watch gas prices and the rocky economy. When reflecting on those events in 1776, it also should cause us to say a prayer for our country.

     With the current events, I feel a bit like the little boy. I’m not sure what to pray. It’s a good time to just pray for help.

A Soldier and PTSD

      George S. Patton, Jr. was a World War II General, known for his leadership and hard work. His website attributes quotes to him that describe the kind of man that made him a General. “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”. 

     He considered himself a soldier. Such quotes as “In case of doubt, attack”, and “May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won’t”; is the kind of thinking that even appeals to us today.

     It is undisputed that he was a driven man. However, his toughness on soldiers, became his downfall. The event was known as the “Patton slap”, but was basically the “slap heard round the world”. His Wikipedia description provides a pretty good account of what happened that effected his career and how he was viewed as a soldier. The entry is called the “slapping incident”.

     In the summer of 1943,  General  Patton’s Seventh Army  was engaged in a campaign to seize control of Sicily from the Germans and Italians. History records that the heat and the pace of the “Sicily campaign”, so frustrated Patton that he wrote that he was eager “to get out of this infernal island.”

     On the afternoon of August 2,  a 27-year-old Private,  named Charles H. Kuhl, checked into the aid station, with a diagnosis of “exhaustion”. According to the medical records still available today, it was the 3rd time that Private Kuhl had been admitted.

     On August 3, 1943, Kuhl’s medical note indicates that he was in a “Psychoneurosis anxiety state- moderate to severe”.  His medical record indicates that he was given “sodium mytal” , (sodium amytal). It is a drug that is used to combat insomnia. Recipients typically become very drowsy and it lasts into the next day.

     While Kuhl was receiving this medical attention, General Patton was making his rounds among the wounded soldiers; He came across Kuhl,  and Patton saw a 1st Division infantry man,  who showed no apparent wound or injury.

     In a 1970 interview, after the movie “Patton” was released, the “South Bend Tribune” reported that Kuhl remembered that when Patton entered the hospital tent, “all the soldiers jumped to attention except me. I was suffering from battle fatigue and just didn’t know what to do.”

     Patton went around to each soldier and individually asked about their specific injuries. Patton questioned Kuhl about why he had not stood and saluted. Kuhl told The Tribune, “I told him my nerves were shot and, of course, I didn’t feel like getting up to salute him.”

     The above attachment records that the furious General began swearing at Kuhl; calling him a coward and ordering him to leave the hospital tent that was occupied by brave soldiers who had “real” battle wounds.

     The frightened Kuhl did not move, which only further enraged Patton. Patton then, according to an eyewitness, slapped Kuhl’s face with a glove, raised him to his feet by the scruff of his neck and forced him out of the medical tent, with a final “kick in the rear.” Patton ordered the private to return to his unit and told the doctors not to re-admit him to the hospital.

     Kuhl fled from the tent and hid until Patton left the hospital. The soldier was then picked up by Corpsmen and returned to the ward tent and was admitted for acute anxiety, chronic diarrhea, malaria and a  fever with a 102.2 temperature. He suffered with malarial parasites and diarrhea for over a month.   Two days later, Patton ordered that Seventh Army soldiers alleging shell shock, not be admitted to hospitals; and that those who refused to fight would be court-martialed “for cowardice in the face of the enemy.”

       Word of the slap, did not make it back to the United States for a few months. History indicates that this allegedly was not the only soldier that Patton had slapped.

     Realizing that striking an enlisted man was a court-martial offense, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Patton’s senior commander, needed to both punish Patton and prevent the incident from causing a stir back home. Eisenhower was faced with a dilemma. He didn’t want to lose a general,  so crucial to the war effort. At one point, radio reports claimed that Eisenhower was attempting to cover it up.

      Eisenhower then knew that he had to take public actions. As part of Patton’s punishment, Eisenhower formally censured him, saying that he did not condone brutality or uncontrollable temper in front of the enlisted men. Eisenhower ordered Patton to publicly apologize for his actions.

     On Aug. 22, Patton summoned all of the Seventh Army to Palermo to publicly apologize for his actions. Beyond his public apology, Patton also personally apologized to Kuhl. He told the private that his slapping and verbal abuse were intended to motivate Kuhl to fight. General Patton asked Kuhl to shake his hand in forgiveness. An observer noted that Kuhl grinned enthusiastically and shook Patton’s hand.

     The slapping incident nearly ended Patton’s military career. He remained in the European war theater, but was never given a major command. Patton died in December 1945 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident in Luxembourg. Charles Kuhl returned to the Michiana area and worked at Bendix. He died in Mishawaka on Jan. 31, 1971, and is buried in Mishawaka’s Fairview Cemetery.

     Next Monday, we will honor and remember our war heroes. One book “Shell Shock to PTSD“, considers many of the injuries that soldiers suffered, from 1900 to 2005; Many of those injuries were like those that were suffered by Private Kuhl, that went undiagnosed during and after all the wars during that period.

     Trauma and psychiatric injuries were undiagnosed, when war Veterans returned back to society. Brain injury and long lasting effects were not treated because these injuries couldn’t be seen.

     It is estimated that 30 out of 100 Vietnam veterans, suffered the effects of PTSD, At least 15 out of every 100 that returned from Iraq, were dealing with symptoms of PTSD.

     In WWII, they were just treating soldiers, like Private Kuhl, with something to help them sleep. Then, they were sent right back out to the battlefield, which is why someone like Kuhl, returned to the battlefield again and again.   The indication is that, perhaps, even General Patton was suffering from symptoms of exhaustion that could have been PTSD. 

       What we now recognize as PTSD, used to be called or simply known as “shell shcok”, “combat fatigue” or “war neurosis”. We now know that these conditions  need continuing and long term care.

     In facing budget issues and what kind of medical care that our military and our Veterans deserve; politicians and the public are now aware of the need. It’s just a question of what can and will be done.  As a nation, what are we really going to do for those that we honor on Memorial Day.


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