Gaylord Guenin: War drums more depressing than nine-day winter |

Gaylord Guenin: War drums more depressing than nine-day winter

If you read the last Letter from Woody Creek, then you know about the Lenado weather pole. If you didn’t see that column, let me quickly explain.

In the meadow across from my cabin stands a pair of old wooden poles, one about 7 feet high and the other, my beloved weather pole, about 3 feet, 6 inches high. When the shorter of the two poles is completely covered by snow, I know that winter has arrived. When most of it is once again free of snow, it means spring has reached Lenado once again.

This winter the pole didn’t disappear until Feb. 27, which is extremely late and not a very good sign. Last winter, 200l-2002, it was never completely covered by snow and we know what followed – an extremely dry summer filled with devastating wildfires. But I like to be the optimist, so I figured Feb. 27 might be a late date but at least the pole is covered and March should bring us more snow.

So far, things have not happened that way.

On March 8, the top of the pole began to poke through the snow again and by March 15 slightly more than 6 inches of my weather pole was staring back at me across the meadow. Winter, as defined by my weather pole, had lasted all of nine days this year. Hardly long enough to yank us out of our drought cycle.

I apologize if I seem obsessed with the weather pole, but it seems lately that I will grasp at just about anything to avoid watching George W., our compassionate warrior president, offer up yet another justification for attacking Iraq. We can only hope we won’t be shown another set of bogus documents supposedly showing how Iraq attempted to buy uranium in order to build a nuclear weapon. Much to the CIA’s chagrin, it turned out that the first set was pathetically fake, something no one in the administration, including George W., seemed to notice as they were waving them about.

Our nation right now is more or less split down the middle on the issue of war, so it might be positive to recall the days following the horrific events of September 11, 200l, and the sincere bonding that seemed to take place between complete strangers in this country. As a nation we came together instinctively and there was hardly a murmur of opposition when the president decided we had to go into Afghanistan. It was as if we were telling the world that no matter what, as Americans we stand together.

Now, on the brink of war with Iraq, the nation is again divided and the divisions are beginning to look deep and ugly.

Talk radio dominated by right-wingers and born-again Christians has been vigorously lashing out at any and all who would argue, no matter how rationally, that a war with Iraq is a mistake. War protesters are, more and more, being depicted by the far right as participating in traitorous activity. Even members of the administration have dropped hints in that direction.

Everything going on right now conjures up that nightmarish period when blood was spilled during the anti-war demonstrations aimed at our fighting in Vietnam. Could that happen again? If this is a quick war and we achieve a decisive victory, the answer is probably no. If it drags on, the consequences for our nation could be grim.

While the “love it or leave it” message aimed so vehemently at the anti-war protesters during the war in Vietnam has already surfaced in the current conflict, there does seem to be a distinct difference between what is happening now and what happened in the l960s and early 1970s.

At some point during that miserable conflagration, the outward anger expressed against our government and the men in power seemed to slop over and inexplicably began to include the young men and women we had sent there to do our bidding. Somehow we simply abandoned our troops and it took a long time before Americans began to realize what a horrible mistake they had made.

Service to your nation, even if what your nation is doing is questionable, is supposed to be an honorable act. We came dangerously close in Vietnam to making “national duty” a dishonorable act.

The great dilemma hanging over the current crisis is this: How to support the troops, those who may die, without appearing to endorse George W.’s bizarre holy war? I don’t have a ready answer but I will continue to search for one and I encourage you to do the same. At least there appears to be an awareness among some anti-war groups that there is a distinction between our government and the men and women who are obligated to follow orders.

In the meantime, I shall continue to keep a close eye on my weather pole, as it is a soothing diversion, and another eye on a delightfully strange web site set up by the Woody Creek Store. You can access it at

It is a quick and easy way to keep up on the news in Woody Creek, although I cannot testify as to the veracity of the news, and it usually contains lots of other somewhat “off the wall” information. Check it out! It is much more entertaining than watching my weather pole!

This is the 282nd article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place where the “magic of war” has lost most of its luster.

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