January 23, 2012

The Spoils and Generational Impact of War. Reflecting upon the impact of the US’s UNJUST war against Vietnam by Aishah Shahidah Simmons

My paternal Uncle Reginald G. Simmons did several tours of duty in Vietnam in the 1960s. He, like thousands of US GI’s and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese women, children, and men were sprayed with ‘Agent Orange,’ which “is the code name for one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.”

In March 1980*, Uncle Reginald died from a cancer, which ravaged his body in six months. Fast forward to the late 80s, when his daughter, my first cousin Crystal D. Simmons, was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Since that time she gave birth to and was in the process of raising three brilliant and beautiful children while simultaneously battling multiple forms of cancer that appeared to mutate (not metastasize) in various parts of her body. Crystal had at least 40** surgeries for 23-years and multiple bouts with chemotherapy and radiation. In the midst of her own battles, her eldest daughter Christina D. Simmons died from a cancerous brain tumor in June 2007. Crystal died on December 25, 2011, and is survived by her two younger children Reggie and Courtney who are 14 and 16. Very recently, Courtney was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a pediatric bone cancer. While coping with the loss of her mother less than one month ago, Courtney now must AND WILL battle cancer. Decisions made in the 1960s are having a generational impact in 2012.

Unfortunately my family is not unique.

Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects. And, tragically this country hasn’t learned any lessons from their egregious, wretched, and inhumane errors in Vietnam. I reflect upon Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan to name a few of the countries who, since Vietnam, have been directly invaded and occupied by the US…

Too bad (what has become) the US didn’t take heed to The Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy, which says, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” Instead they took deliberate actions, which resulted in the genocide of the Iroquois and millions of other Indigenous nations of this land.

No One Is Free While Others Are Oppressed!!!

*In the original posting of this blog, I wrote that my Uncle Reginald died in 1979. Michael Simmons, my father, informed me that his brother’s funeral was in March 1980.

**When my cousin Courtney read this blog, she informed me that her mother, Crystal, had 40 surgeries and not the 15 that I originally listed.


For additional information, please read “A Black Man Fights the Draft,” Interview With Michael Simmons by Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an AfroLez®femcentric Cultural Worker (Black, Feminist, Queer Documentary Filmmaker, International Lecturer, Published Writer, Social Change Agent, Vipassana Meditator, and Global Traveler

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