Home | About | Donate

Uncle Pentagon: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American War State


Uncle Pentagon: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American War State

Frida Berrigan

The Pentagon loomed so large in my childhood that it could have been another member of my family. Maybe a menacing uncle who doled out put-downs and whacks to teach us lessons or a rich, dismissive great-aunt intent on propriety and good manners.


Thanks for your service.

Service to the people instead of the warlords.

Unfortunately a peaceful protest where blood is thrown on a government building would be branded as terrorism using a biological agent today.

But the war machine is so pervasive you may as well just demonstrate on any street corner.

Eternal protest against eternal war. Even if it seems hopeless, the effort must be made.

Dawn has to come sometime.


So, here we are, still saying Peace Now, and the war profiteers continue getting rich. CodePink and more activists in the peace movement are asking for new ideas and approaches to changing our killing ways. I think it is important to remember that perseverance in the cause of peace is essential to life.

It is the military that is using up essential resources. The increased demands for more fossil fuels are led by the insatiable hunger of the war machine. We know that it is necessary for no more oil or coal to be removed from the wounded earth if this planet is to remain habitable. It is obvious that war is death and Peace is Life.


“This is a bigger adrenaline rush than skydiving or bungee jumping”. “I miss the feeling in the pit of my stomach prior to a mission”. “Shooting and getting shot at. is a drug. It keeps you wanting more.” “My father said it makes me a man”. These are some of the words from hormonal young Marines on the Afghan War series (and recruiting tool) running on Rupert Murdoch’s National Geographic Channel. They are teenage boys going squirrel hunting with the latest weapons we can provide, though the squirrels are impoverished humans living in mud huts. But they are trained to kill this “enemy”. They say, “Pretend you’re already dead and its easier”. An announcer in the background says “these boys are not afraid of anything”.

These Marines are the Indian Braves, Viking Warriors or Masai’s of the day, out to prove themselves. To become men by killing other men, or a lion. Maybe it is nature’s way. They may do it for God and Country, or just for fun. But they say they don’t care why they do it. Maybe they begin to think about what they’ve done when they get back to the world with their PTSD or lost limbs. Will the conservatives that sent them to kill and die care about them then? Or for them is it just “Katching!” and more wars?


“At the time, the Pentagon was locked in a fierce fight with the CIA and the White House over the wisdom of trading weapons for hostages with Iran and giving the money to U.S.-backed mercenaries in Nicaragua who were fighting a bloody war against peasants, catechists, and communists who wanted land reform, education, and democracy.”

Did the peasants of Nicaragua get Land Reform ? They got used so that today the Sandinistas have appropriated all the productive land in the country.
Did the Catechists get to teach the Nicaraguan people about religion? They got all the progressive priests ordered out of politics and the Catholic Church turning against the Sandinista movement.
Did the Communists get to try their ideology? No, the Ortega family firmly embraced Kleptocracy to such an extent as Nicaragua has never ever seen.

And the fabled “Democracy” that was promised? Somoza seems positively Jeffersonian compared to Daniel Ortega and his cronies.


Veteran of the Battle of the Wedge,Pentagon,Oct 67. Sorry to say I have not been back since, I guess they beat it out of me. Still have nightmares from time to time.


Thank you ever, Frida, for your service to our country - then and now, you and all your faithful families. I am always inspired by your writing - and of course your actions - and
I do love your writing and the well balanced thinking that steers it - you ‘caught’ and were
taught so many profound things, and are so brave yet - especially when I think of you
being separated from your parents as a youngster. I recall seeing you at breakfast in the hotel in Harrisburg, PA with your (real) uncle Dan, when you were about 6 or 7. I still hold that picture in my mind - as I resisted taking out my camera at such a sweet moment. I did wish I’d had an uncle like that!! I knew Dan when I lived in Ithaca - and then NJ. I keep him in my prayers. I recall a few retreats at Kirkridge not so long ago, just before your present marriage. Congrats to your steadfastness in all your living!! So glad to be reading you here!! Cheers, Love/struggle, Elizabeth Sarfaty/ny


“… Flight 77 took out one side of the building …”
Maybe, maybe not. Flight 77 took out one side of the building


I attended a Lifelong Learning class for Seniors in which we discussed Edmund O. Wilson books about the mankind species biologically being similar to the ants. Ants work cooperatively together until they see another anthill and the only response is hardwired–all out war and destruction. Sad to think our human species is so wired and so far does not have the superior brain capability to overcome this disability. Eventually it is obvious that our species will not survive unless we do. There will always be the “other” until we are left all alone.


Thanks for all you’ve done, Frida. You guys were and are, remarkable people. What a life you’ve had. The world needs another million like you.


You have internalized the male/patriarchal view of human nature. You would do well to read Merlin Stone or Riane Eisler. It’s sad when women accept the narrative of Mars rules and the men that it pertains to.


I’ve also taken several courses at the local Unitarian Church about the Goddesses of the past prior to the takeover of the patriarchical religious takeover. Feminists claim these thousands of years of Goddess worship all over the world were times of great peace. But then I think of Hillary Clinton who doesn’t seem to see a war she is not in favor of or the many females on Fox News or even Phyllis Schafly. What I have internalized is similar to what Pogo says “power corrupts”. I do like the female connection to the Goddess instead of the religion that says women are made out of the rib of Adam and responsible for tempting him with the apple. Interesting book is “When The Drummers Were Women–A Spiritual History of Rhythm” by Layne Redmond.