I’m on a Roll and I’m trying to make things work out for everybody! Let’s test this Making Lemonade Theory on a pretty sticky wicket: my recent, shocking discovery that my own country was messing around over here in Laos without any license to do so. The best we can do now, as patriotic Americans is to shut the whole thing down. To finalize that which is spoken of in hushed tones; if its ever admitted at all: The Secret War in Laos, consisting of America’s bombing it to Kingdom Come, incidental to the air raids upon Vietnam during that well-known war.
We have a big Bicentennial-and-a-Half Birthday coming up on July 4, 2026; which would be 250 years from our Revolutionary War Victory in 1776, our official American Birthday. It simply wouldn’t be proper for us to still be engaged in covering up our own little fiasco over here in Laos, Southeast Asia, while glorying in our own Freedom Anniversary. So, let’s make these dates our Clusterbomb Cleanup timeline. To quote from my journal entry of last week when I was still reeling with my own shock of discovery:
“I have my dukes up and I’m ready to fight with America! But, you know what? There’s not going to be any fight! There may be a lot of action, but we won’t be fighting. They’d be silly to do that, since there is no question about the facts. Nobody denies any of it! I have a deadline now! The Secret War of Laos was officially over on December 2, 1975, forty-three years ago this December. That’s 8.5 months from right now! Plenty of time to purify the ground from all the millions of still-active explosives and to equip all of the continuing victims with artificial body parts, so they can lead a relatively normal life. Let’s wrap this up, like a great big Christmas Present for Laos and a Happy New Year’s gift to the world!
Let’s see, America’s Birthday this year, July 4, 2018, will be our 242nd one. That’s eight years before our big 250th Independance Day on July 4, 2026! We all remember our gala 200th, highly-celebrated, 4th of July Bicentennial Anniversary in 1976. Ironically, that was a mere seven months after they called off the dogs on Laos. Do you suppose there’s a connection? Maybe, someone in the State Department suggested that it would behoove us to change our own dirty linen first?
Okay so now, before our Big 250th American Birthday Bicentennial comes around, the USA has less than a decade to “Put Up Or Shut Up!” If we can’t get such a simple task together, as Defender of Freedom and the Human Rights of Mankind, then let the Geriatric Jokes roll!
We could have national slogan contests to make fun of Uncle Sam’s Incontinancy! Break out the adult diapers, sort of stuff!
Talk about slow! How hard can this Healing Process be anyway? Maybe we’re Impacted? Are we still pooping Bombies?
Have we lost our Hearing? Have we no more teeth to sink into a simple cleanup project? Let your hair down! Or have you torn it all out because you turned out to be two-faced? Is that what the stovepipe hat covers up? A bald pate? No excuses to hide behind? The raping of those weaker than you was never permitted! And coverups shouldn’t ever be in your bag of tricks.
Can’t get it Up, Uncle? Fifty years is a mighty long time to look the other way. Man up, United States Military! Pick up your trash! Clean up your room! Mama’s come to town to sweep this ship into shape! And, there’ll be no talking back. Or there’ll be no birthday cake for you!
Trump has already made the USA a laughing stock! This would finish the job! I think that either Hilary Clinton or Michelle Obama should run for President and put us right back together again! Well, after we women take over and clean this filthy house, that might just happen!
And, if the Secret War in Laos was indeed a pattern for CIA tricks in Syria, Bosnia and the like, then the whole house of cards may fold upon too much light of day! This will be fun! I’ll need that new Goldfish print dress I just bought!”
Vientiane, Laos – I am now suddenly involved in the fallout of a Secret War that happened on this very soil over fifty years ago. My group Stray Tour through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam is hop-on, hop-off and the timing is entirely flexible so, I have decided to stay here in the capital city for the next month. I wish to learn all I can about this hidden war; which was, indeed secret to the citizens of America. It was our country doing the devastating bombing; apparently, without any license to do so! And they certainly didn’t tell us at all as it’s a close neighbor to Vietnam and we were at war there. I know you will be very interested in the answers that I can dig up.
Frankly, aside from the personal interviews that I can obtain here, all sorts of descriptions, films, and data is available on the internet. I urge you to conduct your own investigation from the comfort of home, because I need your help to conduct the next obvious steps. The American Embassy, here is my connection to the White House, and I am looking forward to working closely with them, having just received a reply to my request for a visit. My purpose is strictly to involve my fellow-Americans in the solutions to the ongoing problems of cleaning up the millions of leftover clusterbombs buried in the soil and to help COPE with supplying orthopedic treatment and prosthetics for the thousands of maimed victims. Not to utter recriminations. Fifty-four years is way too long for this travesty to continue. Please unite with me to solve this curse brought by our own American bombers.
To my readers who are hoping for more casual, solo traveler content here on this happy little website, I assure you that this hijacking of theme is only temporary; as I will ask my web designer to separate this material on another page or something, from the more general theme. So, bear with me, while we run parallel.
Actually, world exploration through true travel is full of surprises and addressing this Laotian situation is probably the most important and demonstratively-spiritual act that America, as a whole, can perform today. Consequently, I ask you to open your own websites and personal connections to spread the news of a fund-raising account just as soon as we figure out how to create one. I plan to approach existing American civil rights or international war recovery websites in search of GoFundMe expertise. These tasks are completely doable within my next four weeks here, learning all I can of this history and developing solid contacts for putting together a plan which does not yet exist in the form I can so clearly visualize.
I have not, at all, abandoned my original, meandering exploration of Planet Earth. But, I have allowed myself a focus and intensity which has rarely in life hit me between the eyes and comes as a most-welcome revisiting of a much-younger, purpose-driven, self. Yet, it is very temporary because I’m searching for the best set of hands to put this huge travesty into for cleaning and curing. How would you feel in this same situation? Probably, just like me. Here are my journaled thoughts a week ago, as I coped with the magnitude of the real-world situation that I have discovered myself already morally committed to:
“I’m in the strange position of a journalist who has stumbled upon a scoop and now, must react in the wisest way to be timely, accurate and non-sensational, but completely believable. Because I work for no one besides myself, I am also free to be creative and irreverent, if that’s what it takes to call my own government out on the carpet. But, I’m also happily eager to meet the Ambassador to Laos and the staff of the American Embassy here! We will surely become friends and fellow homebodies. They are our Representatives in a foreign land and the first to be consulted when a tourist dies or gets sick in their assigned Embassy’s country. They are my lifeline to Home, and my first line of defense, out here on the trail. I’ve never needed to contact an Embassy before, as they’d be inundated if every American tourist wanted an audience. However, now I need to check my facts and get their official statement before I get too far along on my internet-published essays concerning America’s history in Laos.
Early on, the children’s story of Henny Penny came to mind as I decided to call upon my fellow Mother Hens now that I have something to cluck about: “The sky is falling! My country has not behaved itself!” Acting in the role of funny little Chicken Little, I’m no busybody but just your ordinary, unknown, senior citizen! An 80-year-old, solo, around-the-world traveler, still looking for my own special king and perhaps my true homebase. I’ll know ’em when I see ’em. Armed with two oscure websites, and three suitcases full of all my life’s possessions, life is good, if a little lonely between the distant watering holes filled with fellow-travelers.
The last thing I need is a planet-sized Cause! “What’s the use? Who will listen? Why don’t Americans already know this by now? Is this as important as I think it is? Why should I bother? Is it none of my business, or are all of my Freedom Ideals simply naivity in the face of the bigger picture of war and maintaining military supremacy?”
“Am I a turncoat? A traitor, to speak out? What would my New England, British Colonial ancestors tell me to do? My Founding Fathers? How would they feel about our prolonged, relentless, and aggressive bombing of a country that was not America’s enemy? In my heart, I already know that they would all say:”YOU GO GIRL!” to me and each one of my American female counterparts. We have to get this sorted out for those helpless ones for whom the sky has already fallen, thanks to our country’s defense of…..what? Freedom and Democracy? Equality for All?”
Odd, isn’t it, that this Secret War Issue, which won’t just dry up and go away… or get conveniently ignored; embraces the Millennium as it does? The Religions all predicted a Falling Sky; an Ending World, for the Year 2000! Apparently, nothing happened! We have chugged along for eighteen more years after that Great Millennial Divide!
“See Henny Penny, how foolish you were?”
But, what if it HAD happened, three decades before that Rollover? American clusterbombs rained upon Laos, night and day, nonstop, for all those years! One figure that I’ve turned up, totals 22 years, 3 weeks, and two days, between November 9, 1953 and December 2, 1975. The world DID end for ten percent of that little country’s innocent population. Those anti-personnel bomblets just didn’t fall upon OUR heads. And, they didn’t come from God! They came from our own U.S. Airforce, during a crazy war over ideology, against a miniscule country compared to our size. But hey, it was a declared, above-board war, wasn’t it? Sportingly approved by all the world’s Good Guys against a teeny-tiny, deadly enemy: North Vietnam!
It was an all-out attack on a wee coral snake, which could be openly bragged about in all the world’s Officer’s Clubs. Over gin and tonic, no less! The Grand Theatre of War! So officially righteous and all that!
But now, we learn of a Bastard Child, stuffed into the closet and forgotten. Never acknowledged! Never supported!
Our American Military fucked Laos the whole time that it was camping out on her territory, fouling her land and waters; in order to bomb the bejesus out of her neighbor, her brother, North Vietnam.
This denied Bastard Child is now fifty-four years old and crippled up the Wazoo; living conveniently far enough away from U.S. soil, as to be unacknowledged by The Great White Father!
But, now that we, American Women have heard the tale of our husband’s profligacy, we must make a choice!
1. Go on living a fairy tale life in our serene mansion across the globe?
2. Roll up our sleeves and take compassion upon the family we never knew we had?
Which is it to be, my Sisters? Now that you have learned of Laos? Loss? Or Love? It’s your call!
“SHOW ME WHAT’CHA GOT!”
Open Letter To My Dearest Friend, Fawn Germer, And All Woman’s Leadership Groups Who Work Together to Change The World and Their Own Lives!
Here’s a shout-out to all wonderful, dedicated Women of The World! Together we can change things! I highly recommend: www.fawngermer.com author of Work-Life Reset! and many other excellent, motivational books. She knows what she’s doing and is calling you and me and everyone else, to combine to solve sticky questions and not to be frightened of their challenges!
To all women, everywhere, who gather to change things! I wish I could be there, to share your self-discoveries in your wonderful Work-Life Reset sessions. I’d love to walk along a beach or climb a mountain together as you change everything that needs changing in your life, your work, your family. I’ve never needed this sort of emergency brain surgery, as much as I need it right this minute. Or yesterday! But, I’m not exactly the one that I’m trying to change! It’s the whole, wide, bloomin’ world; beginning with our own country: America, The U.S.of A! And, I really, really need your help!
With a little caring. A little loving attention. A little effort from we, women….. we, mothers…. we, grannies! We can set this right again! So here I am, ostensibly hijacking my best-friend-in-the-whole-wide-world, Fawn Germer’s Re-Set/Re-Do/Re-Learn/Re-Build Foundation and begging her to share this sudden, worldscale, journalistic discovery with you. I honestly, can’t imagine any other way to approach this problem so, I’ll share my yesterday’s journal entry to see if that will explain things adequately:
5:00 a.m., Saturday, March 17, 2018 –
“I woke up “Mad” today! I slept well, but I have changed recently. I am now TOUGH! I can feel it in the expression of my face, especially, the undeniable “glint in my eye,” mostly the left one; an expression which I can feel from the inside. When that face is there, I am fearless! More than usual! And, I know exactly what I’m doing….. but, not until I actually begin to do it!????
“The Holy Spirit was talking to me in fairly hushed tones, as I came awake in this Mixay Paradise Hotel in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, Southeast Asia. He was commenting on yesterday and my reactions to the shocking news of America’s Secret War, back in the Sixties, during the Vietnam War. All night, I had been trying to figure out what I could do about that! Then, at dawn today, with that new and unmistakable glint in my eye, I got up and journaled the following material:
“We live with an idea of our own Image!” As individuals, as Americans. We are naive! Yes, many of our assumptions are true; but not in-between the cracks. Things happened…. that were “innocent, in and of themselves.” But, they were terrible, nonetheless! This is true of nations, as well. Cracks appear, like the ones which felled the pedestrian bridge in Miami this week. What a visceral symbol for me! In my own State of Florida, and synonymous with the innocence I once had for my beloved homeland.
America had a “Secret War” (it’s actually called that) which we, Americans, have never heard about! For years, our warplanes deliberately dropped cluster bombs on sweet, innocent, uninvolved, Laos, the next-door country to Vietnam; just so they wouldn’t have to land with dangerous cargo still aboard. Maybe, those big, leftover cluster bombs would have killed the pilot if he had touched down too roughly; or sunk his aircraft carrier or blown a hole in a runway somewhere? Better to clear the cargo bay over Laos and dump the payload originally meant for North Vietnam! So, instead of a few Americans being blown up, thousands of Asians paid the price and are still paying it, half a century later. Very likely, this was SOP, Standard Operating Procedure. Simple practicality! One doesn’t question orders!
Every eight minutes, around the clock, for nine years, between 1964 – 1973, American pilots made this fatal decision. Also, bombing Laos was an official U.S. policy under both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, probably, to eliminate the Ho Chi Minh Trail and destroy North Vietnam’s supply chain.
Cluster Bombs were the instrument of choice. As sharklike as a conventional explosive, these bombs opened their jaws on the way down and rained metal beanbags, called Bombies, on villages below. Designed to kill living creatures, rather than destroy structures or blast large craters, these killers devoured life, itself. Seventy percent of the pellet-filled, orange-sized balls obligingly exploded on contact, as desired by our munitions inventors, and Honeywell Corporation, the US manufacturer. But, thirty percent of those, “death-waiting-to-happen”, Bombies still lie buried in Lao rice fields, in branches of trees; under soil where houses and roads are built. Villagers naturally recycle all found metal, making cups and utensils out of bomb scraps; so kids see a familiar object and pick it up to take it home. With their diminuitive name and size, Bombies look like yellow tennis balls. They feel like ordinary rocks when a hoe strikes one in a field. Water buffaloes set them off with one step into the squishy mud of their fulltime plowing employment.
Death and disablement is America’s Legacy here in modern-day Laos! Every day of every year, for fifty-four years, and counting!
What are we going to do about this?
- Make it secret no longer!
- Send money!
- Open a GoFundMe account and fill it up!
- Prosthetics! These people need artificial legs, arms, hands and eyes! Medical care; job training!
- They need the means to carry on long after the war that they never fought in is over and forgotten.
- Friends! Most of all, they need us to help them to cope! COPE needs us to help them do the above, in-country tasks!
Girlfriends! How’s your Umbrage?
Mine, it turns out, is alive and well! You are motivated to re-set and redo your life! To get that glint back in your eye! Try practicing on Lady Laos; or any particular part of her. Fix your Inner Goddess! Let ‘er fly, in more ways than one! Get on the horn! Rev’ up your typewriter! Say your piece!
There are no devils to stop; no guns to put down. All that action was over a long time ago. The fighters went home, dragging their consciences behind them. They know what they did but nobody else does. It’s too late for recriminations. The Laotians put me to shame. I’m mad about this whole situation…. but then, I’ve just found out. You should be mad, too! Here, the people are sweet, welcoming and very, very spiritual! Oh my God, are they ever! But, they limp or hop, or wear prosthetics. Dominated by the past. Our past! And this is where we can help!
A group called COPE, Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise, is well-organized here in Vientiane and they do their best to fix the broken. Read about all this on YouTube and their own website, www.copelaos.org They don’t need volunteers, as far as I can tell. I tried. Those must come through United Nations NGOs. But, they do need ongoing funds, both to clear the land of buried UXOs, Unexploded Ordinance; and to pay for the manufacture of artificial limbs, which are carefully-crafted for each injured person. A child will need a new device every few months or years, for a long time. And, that’s only part of it. The whole person is treated for life. And, new injuries can occur every day.
You are Life-Changing, Direction-Crystalizers! You are the Leaders of the Free World, who want to break down barriers and make massive changes in your own selves and in life at large! Me? I just want to keep on traveling solo around the world at age 80 and counting, and to keep on discovering life’s glories. Hopefully, this is the only brushfire that I will come across.
The Laotians want exactly the same thing that we do. A Re-Set! A good life! Not hand-holding! But, they do need a Hands Up! And so do we, after this shock to our system! This dreadful secret, uncovered! Helping hands always pull a person, and a country, up.
Come on, Gals! It’s our turn now! Let’s cluster together like Mama Hens! Cackle in the Big Boy’s ears, if you have access to any. Insist upon reparations, as late as they might be in coming. I plan to visit our American Embassy here to find out just what our government is doing and for how long it’s been going on? Or not, and why not? Why isn’t the USA listed among the many countries that have banned cluster bombs? This is peacetime, except that, forty-four years after our terrible toys began raining upon this innocent, non-warring country, the babies are still being killed. My babies were being born when the bombing started and that was a long, long time ago.
This Secret War needs exposure. It’s not that we don’t care; it’s that we can’t care when we don’t even know about it.
Okay, Girlfriends! Show your stuff! Re-Set History! Re-Set the Future! Come to Laos and see what total forgiveness looks like! See what a peaceful presence and a complete lack of blame, hatred, anger looks like! Witness the results of a cheerful shouldering of life’s most dreadful visitations and inconvenient requirements. A complete lack of self-pity! An enormous vacumn of Beggary!
But, we all feel a thrilling jolt of joy when that first new step is taken! Let’s join hearts and hands and help these people heal. And within this completely unexpected challenge (who ever heard of little old Laos?) encountered in this retreat, from a long-absentee, old friend of Fawn’s, your own wishes for self-discovery will come true! I promise!
So, roll up your sleeves, my darling Daughters! You have a right, and an obligation here, to Bare Arms. And boy, do you know how to use them! Rosie, the Riveter’s got nothing on you!
- Write songs and sing ’em!
- Create poems and quote ’em!
- Think up puns and spread ’em! They’re infectious! As you will soon realize when they start sprouting on your tongue!
- Do the audacious…. just like this letter is to you! Step out of the box and take a chance!
- And be happy, no matter what! Sincerely, incurably happy! Love humor so much that you can find it anywhere, everywhere! A page from Laos’ playbook.
- Let your words, sharp, pointed but sometimes, very funny, be your adorning!
- And, all I’m really asking is “SHOW ME WHATCHA GOT!”
- Send money to a dedicated account and keep it coming by sharing this appeal with all your friends and bigwigs who can get things accomplished.
Wish I could be there with you! But, this is pretty good!
Linda J. Brown,
We all know that Puns are the lowest form of humor. Right? But, aren’t they fun? The weightier the matter, the faster the flow of great puns! It’s simply our creativity trying to get our attention and to show us around-and-about the most solemn of subjects.
These are to be read simply as single headlines. I’m not trying to make a story here, though some subjects come in clusters (pun intended, I guess). And to get any sense out of this you do need to be somewhat informed about the Secret War of Laos, which is where I am traveling at the moment; and uncovering the SCOOP of the century! It’s a perpetual scoop, apparently, because “much” has already been written about it. Ish! Meaning that we, Americans, still haven’t heard of it. Check it out on Google and YouTube and then, do what you can to spread this shameful news. This egg on the American Face. Fifty years and counting!
I stumbled across the story in the COPE Center, here in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, while touristing through Southeast Asia. COPE is dedicated to clearing the UXO, unexploded ordinances, which kill and maim Laotians constantly as they work and walk the countryside. COPE makes prosthetics that allow them to survive. They need our support, primarily in the shape of money. They are not begging for it. I am!
When the oh so serious subject of America’s Secret War in Laos (see my previous blog) came to my attention; I found myself suddenly creating headlines and playing with words. I’ll share the pun-worthy results here, in order to give you full permission to slide gleefully down this slippery slope; even if you have a speech to the United Nations to prepare. Just try to imagine the subjects you could weave around each headline. And, there you will have it! Profundity! Keep paper and pen handy! These smarty-pants reproduce uncontrollably!
AMERICA’S TACTICAL TRAVESTY!
WOMBS OR BOMBS? TOMBS OR ROOMS? BOOMS CREATE GLOOMS!
LIVE or spelled backwards EVIL?
UNEXPLODED CLUSTER BOMBS – A BLAST FROM THE PAST!
BOMBIES – BLASTS THAT LAST!
LAOS OR LOSS? LOUSED OR LOST?
YOUR SONS, OUR SONS, MY SON!
SECRET WARS ARE NOT CIVIL! LET’S BE CIVIL TO EACH OTHER!
IF CIVILIANS ARE NOT SOLDIERS, THEN, WHY DID WE BOMB THEM? ‘SPLAIN THAT TO ME AGAIN?
WHERE WERE THE NO-FLY-ZONES OVER LAOS?
THEY ARE NOT ASKING FOR HAND-HOLDING! MANY LAOTIANS DON’T HAVE THOSE ANY MORE!
BUT, THEY DO NEED A HANDS-UP!
LET’S JOIN HANDS AND HEARTS AND HELP THEM HEAL!
A CLUSTER BOMB FELL, LIKE A NUT, ON THE HEAD OF HENNY-PENNY. SHE RAN TO TELL THE KING BUT NOBODY LISTENED!
WHO WAS HENNY-PENNY, ANYWAY? THE BUSY BODY WHO THOUGHT THE SKY WAS FALLING!
BUCK, BUCK, BUCK! IF THE SKY FELL, THOSE PLANES WOULDN’T BE OVERHEAD! EVERYTHING’S NORMAL, YOU SILLY HEN!
RELAX, HENNY! IT’S ONLY CLUSTER BOMBS; JUST LIKE EVERYDAY, FOR THE PAST NINE YEARS!
CHICKEN LITTLE SAYS THAT IT’S A BIGGER WAR THAN YOU THOUGHT POSSIBLE! LAOS IS THE MOST-BOMBED COUNTRY, EVER IN HISTORY! THANKS TO THE U.S! GUESS WHO GOOSEY-LOOSEY IS!
LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS! AND LOTS OF OTHER THINGS, AS WELL.
WHO’S MINDING THE ROOST, ANYWAY?
DON’T ASK FOR WHOM THE COCK CROWS! IT CROWS FOR ALL OF US…. EVENTUALLY!
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE DAWN! COFFEE AND ROTTING CARCASSES!
SPILL YOUR GUTS, AMERICA! CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL!
AMERICA! YOU BIG BULLY! LOOK WHAT YOU DID!
LOOK THE OTHER WAY! WHAT BALLS? THESE ARE OBVIOUSLY FOR TENNIS!
TENNIS ANYONE? LET’S GO BAT A FEW BALLS AROUND BEFORE BREAKFAST. THEN, WHEN THE EGGS FALL, WE’LL EAT!
OH GOODY! RATTLES FOR THE BABY!
TALK ABOUT BURIED TREASURE!
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES, GALS! WE HAVE A RIGHT TO BARE ARMS!
CIVIL WAR=EVIL WAR!
MOM, UPSIDE DOWN, SPELLS WOW! AND DAD, WITH AN E, (enemy) IN THE MIDDLE, SPELLS DEAD!
WARFARE OR CARFARE?
LET’S LOVE LAOS, AMERICA!
AMERICA’S MURDEROUS EGGS – CLUSTER BOMBS
AMERICA HAS LAID AN EGG THAT WON’T GO AWAY, UNTIL WE EAT CROW AND MAN UP TO OUR RESPONSIBILITIES! DOES THAT NEED MANSPLAINING, ANYONE?
ORGASM NOT WARGASM! MAKE LOVE NOT WAR! PEACE, NOT PIECES! (Not mine, originally.)
AMERICA’S SECRET WAR, OUR NEST OF BOMBIES!
WHAT DOES ONE DO ON THE WAY HOME FROM A BOMBING RUN? YOU DUMP YOUR LEFTOVER BOMBIES ON BABIES IN LAOS!
WE’VE JUST FOUND THE CAUSE OF PTSD! THE ONLY CURE IS TO LOSE YOUR MIND….ER, MEMORY! OTHERWISE, THE BRAIN-BOMBING IS NIGHTLY. EVERY EIGHT MINUTES!
BOMBIES FOR BREAKFAST? THEY LOOK JUST LIKE GIGANTIC RICE KRISPIES!
U.S. PILOTS BOMBED LAOS EVERY EIGHT MINUTES FOR NINE YEARS ON THEIR WAY BACK FROM VIETNAM…. IN ORDER TO LAND WITH NO DEADLY CARGO. MIGHT BLOW THEMSELVES UP, YA KNOW! OR THE CARRIER. CAN’T HAVE THAT, NOW CAN WE? THEY’D COURT-MARSHALL YOU!
NORTH VIETNAM INCONVENIENT? BOMB LAOS INSTEAD!
THERE’S NO DECLARED WAR WITH LAOS, BUT WE STILL KILL AND MAIM THE INNOCENT EVERYDAY! FIFTY-FOUR YEARS AND COUNTING. WHAT PERCENTAGE OF YOUR LIFETIME IS THAT?
AMERICA IS GUILTY OF THIS! WAKE UP, AMERICANS, AND SEE WHAT YOUR MILITARY HAS DONE!
MAMA HENS UNITE! LAOS HAS STUMPS TO FIX! THEY NEED PROSTHETICS!
THINGS FALL AND HIT US! SOMETIMES, BOMBS! SOMETIMES, TREES! SOMETIMES, TRUCKS!
HOW DOES ONE CELEBRATE WINNING A SECRET WAR? HOW DOES ONE WIN AN UNDECLARED WAR? HOW DOES ONE SILENCE THE NOSY, NOISY NEIGHBORS, WHO PRY INTO YOUR CLOSEST SECRETS? YOUR SHAMEFUL, CLOSET SECRETS? BUT WHAT IF YOUR NOISY FAMILY GETS NOSY? STARTS ASKING PRYING QUESTIONS? GETS OUT OF CONTROL? CAN YOU SILENCE THEM? DOES YOUR GUN HAVE A SILENCER? WHAT IF IT’S NOT IN YOUR CONSTITUTION? WHAT IF EVERYTHING YOU WERE FIGHTING FOR IN VIETNAM IS NOW HELD HOSTAGE IN YOUR SECRET LOCKER? HAVE THE COWS COME HOME? IS THERE FREEDOM IN YOUR HEART? AND IN YOUR SPEECH? DO YOU DO UNTO OTHERS? WHAT DID YOU DO, THAT THEY ARE SO AFRAID TO SPEAK UP….. OR MORE LIKELY, ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL?
OUT WITH IT NOW, CONFESSION IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL, UNCLE SAM!
Happy Punning, Punsters of the world! www.copelaos.org.
Friday, March 16, 2018 – Vientiane, Laos: A quote from my journal:
“My life has changed! I’m hopping off the Tour instead of continuing south through Laos with the Stray Group, as I had intended. The clincher came at our visit today to the COPE Center, a museum detailing the atrocities caused by cluster bombing of this innocent country, Laos, by AMERICA during the Vietnam War. I feel a new sort of glint in my eye that tells me that I am really very mad all of a sudden! You might well get that impression about me if you will allow me to rant for a moment. Or, two! I am staying awhile in this capital city to volunteer at this center, or to help with the disabled…. and to learn all I can about this horrible atrocity. What can I do after half a century has passed? I have no idea, but I will find out!
There was a shameful secret here in Laos, with cluster bombs being dropped by OUR country upon this totally uninvolved and innocent nation, every eight minutes for nine full years, between 1964 and 1973! This is now referred to as The Secret War. Look it up on YouTube! Not that any of us have ever heard about this…. even now! You Tube, or not! I just looked it up there. What was the map on the Center’s wall showing American attack flights and bombings in bright red, if it truly was a Laotian Civil War as some stories on YouTube imply? And some stories say that Laos is a Communist country!? There is not a shred or a clue, over here, feet-on-the-ground, that it ever was!
And I spent eighteen months, altogether, between 1990 – 1994, giving grassroots, two-week-long, Citizen Diplomacy Tours twice a month, through Russia, Siberia, and the Eastern Bloc nations, before the USSR dissolved In fact, I was in Kiev, Ukraine, the day that it did. I should know what Communism and post-Communism looks and feels like! Laos does not fit in that company! It is one of the most peaceful, spiritual, and loving countries I have ever been in! And I sure have been in a whole lot of countries; including Communist ones. Well, okay, I see that its full country name is Laos PDR, which stands for Peoples Democratic Republic, which may be a hint at this type of politics. But, that’s the only tipoff that I can see. Belatedly, at that.
Buddhist! Ohmigosh, yes! So, so Buddhist! Not Communist! Ye Gods! I had to read You Tube to hear that claim!
Anyway, what were those nine years worth of constant American bombing runs over Laos, every eight minutes around the clock, all about? And, why were they using ammunition built by USA’s own Honeywell Company, where cluster bombs used to be produced until constant protest demonstrations made them discontinue? I wonder if cluster bombs were the product being manufactured at the Honeywell plant near my home in Clearwater, Florida, during those very same years that I spent at home, birthing and raising my two babies?
You see, these are the sudden questions that crowd the mind as one tries to assimilate shocking new information.
They told me yesterday at the COPE Center, that Laos is the most heavily-bombed country in the history of the world and Google does agree with that! And, that it was all America’s doing! I sure have a few questions for the American Embassy here. That should be interesting next Monday, day after tomorrow; unless I have popped onto their Suspicious Persons list by that time, and they won’t speak to me. You bet! I AM suspicious about all this! I’m mad, too! But, I want to give my government a chance to explain.
Sure, I knew about the Vietnam War and believed what I was told at the time: That it was to “stop the spread of Communism and make the world safe for Democracy!” Right vs Might, and all that stuff! My male contemporaries were serving over there! And dying. Some came home with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder! I’ll bet they were the pilots that flew those airplanes, who even had orders to dump their remaining payload if they were returning from a bombing mission over Vietnam; so that they wouldn’t risk the aircraft carrier or landing strip, themselves included, while trying to land. Nightmare worthy, to say the least! I’m feeling it right now and I wasn’t watching or doing the dumping.
A cluster bomb is a whole bunch of explosives that look like metal tennis balls, contained in a bigger bomb which pops open as it nears the earth. These deadly pellets then scatter everywhere and explode on contact. Rather than destroying buildings, they are specifically designed to kill people, as the ball’s lead pellets penetrate every surface and do fatal damage. Seventy percent of these bombs performed as expected, and intended, by the U.S. Government during those Vietnam War years, probably with the brilliant military strategy of messing with the enemy’s Ho Chi Minh supply trail that curved through much of Southern Laos as well as South Vietnam. What will I find when I arrive there on this same trip?
Is that really an acceptable excuse, America? For the fact that these bombs are still going off, fifty-four years later? Now killing the children and grandchildren of those who were children at the time? I don’t think so! In the cold light of day…. and the passage of time…. no war is acceptable! But, bombing a country outside of the war zone and protected by the United Nations, covered by accords and agreements… and not, to this day, either admitted to, or “reparated,” by the good old U.S. of A…. is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE in my book!
How about yours? Stand tall, my fellow Americans!
You see, thirty percent of those small, scattered cluster bombs failed to detonate upon landing and they are still suspended in tree branches or buried under farm soil or the squishy mud of rice paddies, waiting to be stepped upon by water buffalo or humans, including me. Because, just the other day, I drove a plow behind a buffalo in a demonstration paddy of knee-deep mud. It could happen! Without warning! And it does all the time. Maiming or killing, in the blink of an eye!
I was the only American in my tour group and was filled with horror, guilt and shame and such a need for immediate action. But, the COPE Center does not need volunteers to manage, unless you are a member of an NGO, and thus, already under sponsorship. So, I have changed my goal to one of spreading this information just as far as possible. I thus, am turning to you, Dear Reader, to respond and forward this news to all of your friends to forward to theirs…. ad infinitum. This secret cannot remain so sacrosanct as it has been for so long. Yes, President and Mrs. Obama were here recently. I’m sure that helped; but we still don’t know about this travesty, as a nation. And we simply must find out so that we can help fix this lurking leftover of a ghastly problem that we caused in the first place!
All COPE needs is enough money to keep treating the amputees by supplying prosthetics; job training; continuing medical care, and always: searching the country with metal detectors and carrying out controlled removal and/or detonation. That’s not too much to ask and they are not begging for our assistance. Who can set up a GoFundMe account for them? Who can raise some money for that? Please do your part to help these Laotians, the most cheerful, smiling, philosophical and unblaming people. Is it Buddhism or living through the bombing?
Be prepared to read more about this subject, including a tribute to my departed firstborn, Randy. My son, Douglas Randolph Brown, died at age 48 in 2011, after living all of his life with Dejerine-Sottas Disease, a very rare neurological disorder. He wore leg braces; he used crutches, and finally, a full-time wheelchair. But, he could still drive that disability-adapted van of his! And, he could still live alone in his studio apartment attached to my bigger house. He had a happy and full life as a very talented artist.
With an incurable, progressive, almost-unknown condition, not unsimilar to Stephen Hawking’s ALS wasting disease, Randy was a brilliant, cheerful, wonderful painter, who was very accepting and low-key about his shrinking skills. He was also a long-time Buddhist and I lived with him as caretaker for his last eight years. I am sure he is why I take this story so very personally and I can sense him covering it from The Other Side. All of us are parents of some sort, and Grandparents and most of us have the luxury of living in health and peace. Let’s share the wealth!
And, dear, dear, dearest StephenHawking died just a few days ago, on Wednesday, March 14, Pi Day, and Einstein’s birthday, the day before I discovered these unbelievable details of America’s Secret War while I am right here in Laos on the very ground where that war took place! I like to think that Stephen Hawking and Randy Brown have quite a bit in common!
Please, somebody! Set up a GoFundMe presence to benefit COPE! I can’t manage it. Can they? Maybe, they already have one? I haven’t researched this online, hardly at all. Heck, I haven’t even checked my email for three days. I’m still out here on the round-the-world trail where wi-fi is spotty… if I’m lucky! But, I’ve got a lot more blogs on this subject. Be prepared for puns and Wordsmithing! Somebody, Upstairs, is a wiseacre! Or would that be wisecracker? Or whipcracker? Or whippersnapper???
COPE – Helping People Move On www.copelaos.org
COPE – Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise
In early February, I signed up for a wonderful backpacker trip conducted by Stray Asia Tours, that leaves Bangkok twice a week, guiding small groups of about fifteen travelers to the four beautiful countries filling the Southeast Asian peninsula. My group of twelve consisted of all ages and national backgrounds and we bonded instantly on the two minibuses that carried us north through Thailand. After exploring ancient temple complexes in Ayathuya, we boarded an overnight sleeper train for Chiang Mai. How I love the thrill of sleeping on a moving train! It brought back memories of childhood train trips between Florida and Massacheusetts to visit Grandmother Elsie. Three hours late arriving at our hostel early in the morning, we found our dorm bunk beds and curled up for a few hours sleep. Then, we kept our date with four hungry elephants.
In the morning at the Elephant Sanctuary, we fed small bunches of yellow bananas to four rescue elephants. They plucked the bananas ……skin, stem and all…. right out of our hand; caressing our fingers in the operation of firmly grasping the delicious and welcome breakfast treat. Two mature females and two juveniles, a sister and her younger brother elephants, now live happy and pampered lives after many years of slavery in the logging and circus trades. They even get bathed in the river by their adoring tourist fans who have never been that close to a Thai pachyderm in their entire lives. It’s a win-win situation.
Naturally, I hopped-off in Chiang Mai for two weeks, mostly simply to veg-out and get plenty of rest in the exciting and relaxing hostel environment. There are so many worthwhile and educational atractions, that if one has the time to linger, this is the way to avoid tourist overload. Entering Laos, we cruised down the famous Mekong River The dozen of us filled the graceful, roofed longboat, which motored swiftly downstream along this powerful and prime waterway. That’s where I first picked up on the Lao vibes, which are so uncannily peaceful. That night, we docked beside an indigenous native village and carried only enough for an overnight stay into the cluster of simple, wooden buildings with their winding footpaths between. We were served a lovely meal and then invited into the counsel house, where the whole tribe awaited us; as curious about us as we were about them. We sat in a circle on the floor at the center of the room and they stood in a large group, all around us. They are a very attractive people and quick to laugh heartily, which they certainly did after they inquired as to my marital status. As in, don’t I have a man to travel around the world with me? I slung my open arms into the air and shouted, “I’m available!” But, no one volunteered to become my escort. Then, we twisted around to face outwardly, but still in our center circle, and they lined up and processed around us to tie white cords on each of our upraised wrists; in order to bless us with good health and a healing of anything that ails us. Perhaps, their prayers for me also begged for a man to correct my regrettable single state?
We were parceled out, three at a time, to different families to host us overnight. We slept on comfortable mattresses with duvets, under a ceiling strung mosquito net. We slept very well and in the morning after a bountiful breakfast, we launched our longboat for another four hours on the river. This is how we arrived in the small town of Luang Prabang and I decided to hop-off again for a few days, which turned into almost two weeks. I made sure to extend my thirty day arrival visa for another month, through the end of April, because we still have quite a few important stops heading south along the narrow country of Laos, before crossing into Cambodia.
I have been a guest at the beautiful Chansavang Guesthouse during my twelve day hop-off in this sweet Laotian town. Next Tuesday, I shall rejoin my incoming Stray Asia Tour group and continue my slow, relaxed exploration of this whole, four-country peninsula. Stray is a very big company with overland groups leaving Bangkok, Thailand twice a week. I am glad I opted for the less-expensive option of lingering in a spot as long as I wish (and my visa calculations will allow for) and then joining a new group when ready to continue. I bought the whole package and still have all of Cambodia and South and North Vietnam to go. They give us a whole year to complete the entire course so a traveler could take advantage of the special price and then take journeys back home before returning for another segment. I had even considered running to the Phillipines between Cambodia and Vietnam, but will probably stay on target; as things always come up if you get too far away.
But, back to impressions of Laos. I knew that this modest, out-of-the-news country was special the minute I boarded the company’s longboat for our two- day cruise down the Mekong. There was something mysteriously different about this country’s atmosphere! You can simply sense it and others have commented on this, as well: Calm. Peace. Quiet. (none of the blaring music of most other country’s eateries). Peaceful babies. Self-managing toddlers!???! Happy, sweet faces. Awfully good, healthy food. Clear, sunny, days. The list goes on, in its unspectacular, but-highly-desirable, way. How does one dramatize the LACK of human undesirable and untrustworthy tendencies?
Well, I have found a star and I had no further to look than the open-air restaurant/lobby of my Stray-chosen guesthouse, the Chansavang. I have spent a lot of time here, due to their wi-fi availability; and I noticed that there were no protective devices to enclose the restaurant area at night when the dining room closes at 9 pm. That was confirmed when I asked the owner; although her husband’s beautiful artworks, exquisite, wooden carvings and many decorative objects line the walls. To say nothing of the beautiful tables, chairs and restaurant equipment filling the large room.
Anyone could walk into this large, open room; though the bar, kitchen and guest quarters are locked behind wooden, slated, doorways. A talented, but very tiny, waiter named Tang, sleeps in mosquito-tented comfort behind some of these slats; no doubt, patched into the Police, should the need arise. But it never has, so far!
Now, that’s what I call a trustworthy population! Of both locals and foreign travelers. And even, dogs and cats!
I Am Deep In The Lovely Land of Laos In South East Asia While My sweet Granddaughter, Molly, Turns 18!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOLLY! WISH YOU WERE HERE!
I have entered the adventurous, over-active and yet chilled, life of a travel group tour member! The life of early morning bus departures, of two days on a longboat in the swiftly-flowing waters of the Mekong River; exploring temples and caves with golden carvings and statues of all sizes of Buddha. Sleeping in guesthouses, small hotels and in indigenous family homes on the floor with a mosquito net tent. Now I am dining most gloriously at my Luang Prabang, Laos, guesthouse, where I intend to stay into next week. Or forever!
I have hopped-off , more than I have continued seamlessly with the same group I left Bangkok with, because I have a whole year to complete this four country junket through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I can stay in each country as long as my visa allows and travel at my own speed.
The great advantage is that STRAY TOURS knows a whole lot more than I do about how to get up close and personal and our guides for each section are natives of that part of the world. So, I…. consumate solo traveler that I am…. bought the whole package at their desk in my Bangkok hostel. With a generous discount of 35%, my cost was around $1800 for the guided transportation and some activities in each location. I will pay for my housing and food costs as I go. This covers a very extensive route which would take about 41 days if you stay with the same group without stopping indefinitely now and then. I traveled between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand, and then stayed there for two weeks; taking in the Elephant Sanctuary, where elephants are given a good life after being rescued from their slave labor or logging or providing rides for people, which is very hard on their spines. We also enjoyed a fantastic swim in some gorgeous waterfalls. Another athletic attraction was ziplining through the jungle, which lured us with the possibility of seeing Gibbons also swinging through the trees with us. Hardly, but it was very exciting, even without monkeys.
Then, I just wandered about that interesting town of Chiang Mai, mixed with my fellow hostel guests, and read several books; treating my downtime as utter luxury. One of the serendipities of life happened because I had plucked a tattered, dog-eared, coverless book off of the bookswap shelf and discovered an American twin sister world traveler, Rita Golden Gelman, writer of many children’s books and author of Tales of A Female Nomad. She is also eighty years old and two months older than me and she has traveled for years to indigenous populations; living with them and learning their language, while assisting them any way that she can; often with teaching the English language. It is a much rougher and more heroic method of travel than mine. When in the States, she can be found visiting her daughter, Jan, in Seattle.
I have just written to her and and am very much hoping that we can team up in the Phillipines in a few months. Not for the rough travel life, but to chill on the beaches of 700 islands, sipping Pina Coladas and sharing notes and bright ideas. Resting on our laurels, but no doubt, exploring that fantastic island nation that neither of us has any clue about. I have so many writing projects to give birth to, such as compiling the blogs on both of my websites and publishing a few books on that great variety of topics. So, I’d like to rent a beach house; equip it with the office machinery needed and get into some serious work until I run out of visa. Rita has done that sort of writing setup prior to each of her many books and she surely has much advice to pass on. My four books have been written when I was stateside, caretaking a sick family member; so this would be a new experience. It takes discipline to stay inside and focused, but I so love the work that it is really enormously fun. Especially, since the writing is done and I would be already into the editing and formatting.
I also intend to hone my photographic skills with the short courses offered there from a few hours to a few days in length. I am now just punching buttons on my cameras and hoping for the best and this land deserves much more than that in the telling of this exciting story. Having a tour group filled with people with sophisticated cameras turned out to be a huge advantage. I made a trade with them. Send me the pictures you have taken along the way and I will give you three of my ebooks as an even exchange. So, I have their email addresses and we will set up some Google Drive exchange possibility and I will pop my book manuscripts over to them for their own reading pleasure. That way, I’ll have tons of expert shots of these undiscovered places…. as well as photos that I might just appear in. I don’t do selfies, it turns out; but this way, I am visually on the trip.
I plan to innundate George Burdeau and Rock Richardson of Warrior Films with the lot and see if they want to use it. So, each new tour group I join, I’ll make the same irresistable trade and see what we wind up with. I am taking tons of pictures myself.
I have found a few interesting photography courses in Makati City, Phillipines, which might just do the trick to make me familiar with my cameras. Then, I’ll eventually return to this continent to finish my travels through Vietnam, which everyone says is spectacularly beautiful and welcoming in every way. But, I’ll be better prepared to do justice to it. Maybe, Rita will be interested too?
As a matter of fact, I would sincerely love it if I could locate more Seriously Aged Seniors, who are still out here on the world trail. I met a Norwegian woman in South America, who is 76; and I keep hearing of a couple in their middle eighties who do one of these Stray Tours every year. We need to stay in touch with each other and hopefully, travel together, somehow to somewhere, so we can collaborate on a story collection. I am already now plotting on the best way to do that. Would that be mindblowing, or what? Say, anybody on a pension, or over 65 would qualify for the club. If you know of someone, refer them to me. We have a message to deliver! Maybe, through Oprah or Ellen?
I get told all the time “I want to be you when I grow up!” I bet those old trekkers do too!
But, back to the story I am living now. I was delayed at the Laos border because I had unwittingly, overstayed a month on my Thai visa because I read the wrong date on the passport stamp. That comes with a fine of $15 per day, but I cheerfully coughed up $450 and admitted my error. Even the uniformed woman immigration official I dealt with wound up as my New Best Friend as we talked about my travel style. It really pays to keep your cool in all surprising situations. I could have argued that I was innocent, but would have only made enemies and had to pay anyway, to get across so my travel group could get moving again. We were all so happy to arrive in the lovely small town of Luang Prabang, where we checked in, showered, and went out to celebrate with dinner. The next day, we learned how sticky rice is planted, harvested, husked, shelled and cooked at The Living Land rice farm. Sticky rice is a much more rare, healthy and specialized variety than the white rice that we all are familiar with; but I imagine that the farming techniques are the same.
My very favorite part of the fourteen steps was the first one. Taking turns, one by one, we slid into knee deep mud, the consistency of thick, thick, thick chocolate pudding. Then, we struggled over to the huge wooden plow handles and shouted “HO!” as bossily as we could to the sweet, lazy, long-suffering, bored-with-this-silly-routine, water buffalo who had to “plow” in circles for so many groups of silly tourists all day long. But, finally, he would budge and we could concentrate on releasing our foot from the serious suction; raising it high enough to clear the surface, so that we could un-squelch the other foot. Shouting “HO!” loud enough to sound like a male driver, and trying always to keep the heavy, primative, plow upright and not dragging, wholesale through the mud. I was really proud to have passed my Plow Technology 101 course!
My next favorite was segment #14: eating all the yummy samples of what can be created with sticky rice. Not only the handfuls of plain, cooked rice, which accompanies every meal in Laos; but lots and lots of crispy bars, logs, and flakey”tortillas” and, yes….rice krispies! Kellogs ought to come here to take lessons!
On the way back to town, we stopped at a most-unusual series of shallow, stepped, turquoise waterfalls and cavorted in the many photo-ops, which unavoidable with so many bikini babes and today’s generation of camera buffs. We also learned about the precious Moon Bears here. Somewhere nearby, there are Sun Bears. They are hunted for their bile by the Chinese. These cuddly ones, which look like big fur black bears, now live a secure, rescue life in a Free The Bears jungle home. They are adoptable, moneywise, and I’ll find their contact details somewhere in my stuff to include here.
Stuff rules and I struggle with five heavy suitcases, including my backpack; but I keep buying all this light cotton, gorgeous clothing. Plus, I am accumulating gifts to send home to my family if I could figure out how to wrap and mail them.
HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY TO MY DEAR MOLLY….. MY SWEET GRANDAUGHTER IN DENVER…..MARCH 3RD.
I haven’t forgotten and I have presents, as well as Christmas ones, but it’s not easy to find the wrapping to send it all. Gifts for the family to take care of the entire year. But, it will be a hilarious day when they arrive.
Also, the truth is, that wi-fi is a rare commodity. Even this hotel has it only on the lobby floor and not in the rooms; so I am not even collecting my emails. If you don’t hear from me, that is the cause. So, don’t worry because, I havent much time to read and answer them, either. Or to blog very often. But, I sure am living a great life!+++++++++++