Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Aren't We Supposed to Be at War?
Published in The Signal, 6-19-2005.

Darryl Manzer, 2004     One of my "editors" here on the home front thought I ought to explain that what I wrote last week — "If We Can See Live Oaks in Kansas, We Can 'Discover' WMDs in Iraq" — was only about the policies of our government and not about our brave men and women serving in our military in Iraq. It was exactly about the policies of our government, and not our military.
    Wouldn't it be great if our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen could have the live oaks of Placerita Canyon as a backdrop in the news reports? Wouldn't it be great if, like in the movies, the guns were firing blanks and the explosions were created by the movie special-effects folks?
    There were no special effects on Sept. 11, 2001. It wasn't like the movies or television programs that have been shot in the SCV. It was real. We were attacked on a scale worse then Pearl Harbor in 1941.
    We are at war, make no mistake about that. But we aren't acting like we are at war. We don't feel like we're at war. We really don't see much of the war any more. Why, just last week, the headline in my local paper here in Virginia was all about some high school kid being drafted — by Major League Baseball. I had to look many pages into the paper to see anything about the war.
    After the attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, our nation mobilized. Young men — and women — volunteered or were drafted by the millions. (Oh, no! I said the "D" word.) Our factories, railroads, shipyards and farms went into overtime to support our troops and our nation.
    After Sept. 11 we still went to Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot and the local gas station where just about everything being sold comes from outside our borders.
    Want a lamp for your living room? The box says, "Made in China" or "Assembled in Mexico." Want a car? Japanese car manufacturers are running GM, Chrysler and Ford off the streets and highways. We keep buying the stuff. We aren't thinking or feeling we are at war.
    Tell that to the troops in Mosul and Fallujah. Tell that to the sailors on yet another six-month deployment to the Gulf. "We support you as long as our way of life isn't affected." Gives them real hope, doesn't it?
    After Pearl Harbor, the local Army Air Force landing field — located in the middle of what is now Valencia — had more planes landing and taking off in a single day than Burbank (Bob Hope) Airport does today. It must have been a real show.
    The oil fields around the Santa Clarita Valley stepped up production, and new wells were drilled. We knew we couldn't depend on oil from any place but our own back yard.
    After Sept. 11 we were told to keep shopping. Continue life as if nothing had happened. Don't let the terrorists know we had been hurt.
    Today our enemy can't understand that tactic, because it is our very way of life that they are attacking.
    I don't think we understand that tactic, either. We want to defeat the terrorists but don't know how we can do it without causing more harm to our way of life.
    Well, we can't. We have to join the fight again. We have to remember the "shock and awe" of Sept. 11 again.
    What are some of the actions we can take? How can we help defeat terrorism and get our troops home?
    Hollywood isn't making many movies about the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan — if they've made any at all in support of our troops. Maybe they should. The SCV has a few locations left to film the war — live oaks included.
    Maybe we could use less gasoline by carpooling and using Metrolink to go places. Maybe we should do our best to buy only stuff made in the USA.
    We should buy U.S. Savings Bonds and donate blood whenever we can. We should write letters to our troops, thanking them for what they are doing, in spite of the policies that got them where they are today.
    Above all, we should unite against terrorism and the terrorists. We should write our elected officials with any and all ideas that we may have to help win this war. We should let them know that the next battle in this war had better be based on real information and not some political game of smoke and mirrors.
    We can't give up now. We're too far up the creek, and this time we have some paddles to use. We have to make sure, from now on, that we pick the time and place of the battles. We all must to be in this, to win.
    Now the camera can stop rolling. "Cut!" That's a wrap.
    Hey — did you see those California Live Oak trees growing in Baghdad? You just never know where they might turn up next.

    Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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