Shouldn't we ask, "why?" each time there is a call for war?

The Vietnam War continues today for many. Some of its service victims lived for decades with major physical injuries to accompany the psychological pain. Some live still. Neither they and other, luckier, survivors nor those who stayed at home have ever gotten answers. Some couldn't have heard them anyway.

Specialist Rogers was 20 years old, almost through his one-year tour, on Dec. 14, 1968. That day, while on a patrol near the Cambodian border, his unit came under fire and he was struck in the head by several pieces of shrapnel.

"Death would have been a blessing," his brother Joseph of Waynesville said this week. But instead of dying, James Rogers lived on in twilight for almost 22 more years.

"He was helpless," his brother said. "There wasn't anything he could do."

James Rogers was hospitalized for a year before their parents, Joseph and Flora Rogers, brought him home. Sometimes, he seemed to recognize his parents and four siblings. He might hold up a finger in response to a question.

But as for how much he really understood and felt, "nobody knows for sure," his brother said.

James's wife divorced him, and the Rogers family did not blame her. James could not eat or drink without help. His food was blended. He had to be propped up on the toilet. "If you could envision a 180-pound infant," his brother said, voice trailing away.

Despite heavy doses of tranquilizers, James had frequent seizures, so violent that his thrashings once broke a wheelchair. "He suffered unbelievably," his brother said. "I can't describe what he went through."

His end, at least, was peaceful. James Rogers died in his sleep on Nov. 14, 1990. He was 42.

And this and the other stories in the this NYTimes article are only those of guys on "our" side.

Why do we let our old men tell us that using boys and young men to kill other boys and young men is the only way to stop the evil done by other old men?

Look at the small slideshow on the site linked above.

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Published on May 26, 2003 3:15 PM.

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