Later this morning, I returned to Purgatory Creek for the Memorial Day commemoration. A great deal of harrumphing, colorguard-marching and flagworshipping mumbo jumbo, with the surprise arrival of Sen. Klobuchar, who harrumphs and grandstands with the best of them--and every bit as boringly.
Schiebler's crutch-use is explained and he begins, mentioning he has a condition which sometimes makes him sob uncontrollably--and he then goes on to tell his story about carrying the enemy soldier three miles on his back. Again we learn Schiebler thought about summarily executing his prisoner, though he then remembers dear old granddad's parting advice, that God loves Charlie just as he loves us--and so he carries the wounded sergeant major back to the US base.
The idea that an American officer would consider summarily executing a captured, disarmed uniformed enemy is, when you think about it, disgraceful. Surely Schiebler can't mean what he says, you think. A small plane flies overhead and Schiebler jokes he wishes it could be shot down. We then hear the remainder of the sergeant major story--told also here--this time with the captured prisoner kissing Schiebler's neck.
After returning to base, Schiebler is summoned back to the captured prisoner--who will only speak with Schiebler, via an interpreter. Upon learning that Schiebler comes from a small town in Wisconsin and has a loving family, the North Vietnamese sergeant major reveals valuable intelligence to the Americans.
This story sounds quite false, with its core the claim that 'if they knew we were nice people, they wouldn't be fighting us.' Upon learning Schiebler is a friendly person capable of resisting his impulse to execute captured enemies, his entire reason for fighting the Americans disintegrates. Yeah, right.
In fact, the Vietnamese had quite sensible reasons for fighting us--and they were not based on the belief that, one-to-one, Americans are mean people. The Vietnamese wanted to rid their country of political corruption and foreign domination--and they could point to the devastation and mass civilian killing brought about by the American intervention.
Learning that an individual American was kind-hearted wouldn't have much impact then, upon a committed Vietnamese officer's will to fight. The story is unbelievable; Eden Prairie lapped it up.
By the time the ceremony adjourns, I've got a sunburn and make my way toward the dignitaries--and shake hands with the keynote speaker, who's entirely devoid of the Gavin-hatred your humble servant occasionally endures, within his lonely avocation. Schiebler introduces me to his wife--whose eyes indicate internet access.