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Reader Response 3

Reader Response 3

“I just joined the marines because I have a lot of uncles who fought in Vietnam, and ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been brought up that every able-bodied American male should do what he can for his country.

I signed on four days before September 11th. Four days. But it wouldn’t have changed my decision…” (Wood, 160)

It seems that in our world, throughout history war has been glorified to those who do not truly know of it. Just like in All Quiet on the Western Front, when the older generations glorified war to the younger men, and enticed them to sign up for the military. In this case, it appears that nobody ever told him to sign up, but that from a very young age, veterans were made out as heroes, and they themselves were glorified. I do not understand why this is done because it seems that in a lot of veteran’s stories, they remember war as a living hell. Soldiers come home missing arms, and legs, and even worse, they lose a part of themselves; they come back emotionally scarred and hardened.  I agree that we must fight to retain what we stand for in our country, and fight against what we consider evil, but we go so far as to glorify killing. There are times when we must kill, to keep the peace, and save the lives of thousands of other humans, but it seems that we often go too far, and end up killing far too many people. This has been going on since the beginning of war. Back when the Spartans and the Persians were fighting, over a million people died over a land dispute, and leaders’ greed. In World War II an estimated 62 million people lost their lives. It just seems ludicrous to me that we over promote violence to solve our problems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-war, but that being said, I’m not entirely pro-war either.

My I-Search

I-Search Paper:  What I Knew About My Topic
Nolan W.
Prosthetics in the military
March 26, 2010
Class Period 5th
Your topic and why you are interested in this topic—why does it speak to you?  Why do you think it is important to research?
My topic for this research, at this point is Military Prosthetics. I want to know what happens to soldiers who are injured in war, and have to have arms, legs, fingers, and other extremities amputated. There seems to be more and more post war amputees cropping up, but rarely do they ever have a prosthetic limb. I think this topic speaks to me because I would like to work in the medical field. I have always been interested in medical needs, and It is something I would like to devote my life to. I feel it is important to research because there are so many disabled veterans in America, and very little is being done for them. Some amputees are choosing older prosthetic equipment over newer more advanced technology, because not much research is being done with them, and the older uglier technology simply works better, and is far more functional.
What do you not know yet about your topic or know very little of about your topic at this time?

I’m not quite sure what the army is doing directly for its soldiers. I want to know more about the current technology, and why the soldiers choose the WWII era equipment over it. I don’t yet know what the most common amputations are, or how the veterans deal with them. I want to know what the average day in the life of an amputee veteran is like. I want to know what unforeseen complications there must be in their lives. I really just want to envelop myself in the world of prosthetics and find out more about everything there is to offer.

Research Blog 1

At first, my research was slow going, and I could not find, or come up with any topics that interested me. While reading my assigned book, What Was Asked of Us, I realized that there were numerous soldiers that were receiving wounds during combat in Iraq that would leave them crippled or missing extremities. I then became very interested in what happened to those soldiers when they returned home, and what was given to them to help accommodate them in their daily lives. The two most common wounds that require prosthetics are arm and leg amputees. Leg amputees are slightly more abundant than arm amputees, and they are a lot easier to design replacements for, and thus, more money and research goes into developing new and more adaptive technology for them. Arm amputees are more sparse, and have more problems in development for replacement prosthetics. Leg prosthetics do not have an issue with weight, and since they are larger, it is easier to put more technology into one. Arm prosthetics have to be lightweight, and have to have more precise motor skills in the hand, to replicate a real human hand’s muscle movement and position. Many arm amputees are actually choosing the outdated WWII era equipment over the newer technology because it is lighter, cheaper, and in some cases even easier to operate. This is surprising to me, and I want to see what is done for these soldiers, and what advancements have been made since WWII for these amputees.

Reader Response 2

“You hear it either whistle or whistle or whiz, depending on how close it is, if it’s going to land on you. If you’re really good, you hear the rockets whistle. Mortar rounds just kind of make a real small thud in the distance, and you know it’s coming, and the second it blows up, you don’t hear anything. But rockets, rockets give you a good zip or a whiz depending on how close they are. You just slam to the ground about the same time as it F***ing blows up, unless it just blows up, then you F***ing hit the ground. Then you’ve got to scatter for your gear and get all your S*** on” (wood, 101)

It amazes me how similar All Quiet on the Western Front, and What Was Asked of Us are. Even though both books were written in a different century, the content is almost identical. In both books, the soldiers’ worst fears are the explosives. Explosives are extremely deadly, and the only warning for them is often a tiny sound. Nearly one hundred years separate these two books, and yet war technology remains the same. Soldiers have guns to shoot with, Bayonets to stab with, grenades to toss, and nearly noiseless rocket propelled explosives. The soldiers in both books comment, as well as use all of the killing equipment above, but nothing scares them more than the quiet explosives. The soldiers have learned and been taught how to shoot stab, throw, and throw back, but they were never taught how to survive a 2500 feet per second detonation of an 80 pound Explosive ordnance. That’s because there is no way to survive that kind of concussion. They had to teach each other how to listen for a rocket, or feel a mortar. Hitting the ground because of a small sound became instinct, and human nature after a time. In all the time between the two books, nobody ever developed a way to shield oneself from a bomb, but relying on the earth became constant. The similarities in these two works are just astounding.

Literature Circle Response 1


            “We ran out to the first group of soldiers, a small group that was still combat operational, meaning they could still fight. They had made a small circle in the middle of the field, and in the middle of the circle were two very bad casualties. One soldier had one gunshot wound to his arm, and the other soldier had four gunshot wounds. The one kid who had been shot once was screaming out of his mind, and the kid who had been shot four times was laughing.

            I called for my corpsman-…”

            I feel that this passage has a very close relationship to many of those found in “All Quiet On the Western Front” in several ways. This passage shows how soldiers become acclimated to the war and the atrocities that it brings. The narrating soldier hardly reacted to the life changing wounds that these two soldiers now had received in front of him. It may not have been quite that reaction-less during the actual encounter, but it was likely not far off. The two soldiers in front of him were never going to be the same again, and would live life completely differently now. It is questionable if the soldier with four wounds will even live, but the narrating soldier does not seem phased by that. In front of him, these two grown man are going through an intense amount of pain, and both are now experiencing a mental breakdown, but the way the narrating soldier tells it, he makes these two seem weak. This is similar to “All Quiet On the Western Front” because the soldiers in that book became accustomed to seeing battle wounds, killing, and death. It stopped affecting them mentally, and they simply moved on. This is a terrible mental state to be in, because you are then cutting off many emotions, and you are moving to a dangerously careless state of mind. In “All Quiet On the Western Front” the soldiers reacted to battle wounds in much the same way, and even more interestingly, the way the wounds are narrated and described is almost identical. In both cases the wounds are described simply as they were. No emotion, or compassion, just a description of the wound, and then a small reaction from the soldier. I find this very interesting because both books were written in completely different time periods about completely different and unrelated wars nearly one hundred years apart, and yet the two books are incredibly similar.

Research Blog 5 (11/17/09)

Nolan W.    
Research Blog 5

    This week, I completely finished my research paper and have moved on to the multigenre elements of the project. I am really excited about these elements, because they will hopefully let my creativity show. I have always been intrigued by collages that are comprised of hundreds of different images when separated, but one completely different image when together, and I hope to find a way to generate one of those. Along with the multigenre elements, I have been organizing my research portfolio hosted by Google Sites. All of the Google programs have been incredibly helpful and a breeze to use. One of my favorite programs has been Google Docs. It Has been a major resource for me because one of the computers my family owns is loaded with a cheap knock-off version of Microsoft Word, and the other computer is incredibly slow and very hard to get work done on. Another on e of my favorite programs by Google has been, Google Sites. It has been very helpful in that it has allowed me to broadcast all of my work in one place. The program itself is very well organized, and easy to swap between sites when working. I am currently managing three different sites through Google Sites, and I have had very little trouble with any of them thus far. This week has been very enjoyable so far, because most of the work has been fun, and in no way stressful. I am looking forward to seeing this project once completed.

Nolan W.    
Research Blog 4

    This week in my research, I have completed the shaping sheet for my research paper, and written a rough draft. Later this week I will write a second rough draft, and later, a final draft. Along with working on the actual paper, I have finished the memoir: Shake Hands With the Devil written by Roméo Dallaire. For the most part, I am finished with pre-writing, and have moved into editing. This entire project has been surprisingly time consuming, as it has used the better part of October, and now moving into November, and it will be finished in December. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining, in fact I have been quite enjoying this project all the way from the start. I have enjoyed the reading, and enjoyed the blog posts for the most part (until the end when they were hard to write and seemed to be every day). The true research process was fun, and I enjoyed getting to use Noodle Tools for the note card feature, as well as learning to create many MLA documents, among them being headers, works cited pages, and other related materials. I am not sure if the purpose of the project is to prepare us for the senior project, as it does seem to be closely modeled after the much bigger senior project, but it may just be intended to be a normal project for honors students. Overall it has been one of the better experiences I have had in a literature class (or any English class for that matter), and for once has provided a good challenge as compared to every other English class I have ever taken.

Reader Response 10 (11/5/09)

450-522 November 5, 2009
Shake Hands With the Devil, Roméo Dallaire.

I have now completed the Novel, and this is the last reader response. Since the last response, things finally settled down, and eventually ended when enough force had been brought in, the “belligerents” as Dallaire calls them ran out of money, food, potable water, and ammunition. The clean up process then began, and Dalliare with his crew were finally able to relax. Naturally, since UNAMIR was primarily comprised of Canadians, they started a small game of hockey (it was actually field hockey) during some peaceful downtime to relieve some stress that had heavily built up on the troops. Once the violence had been declared over, and that UNAMIR had finally won the battle to restore peace in Rwanda, Roméo had a party for the first time in over a year. The combination of UNAMIR, UNAMIR 2, and Operation Turquoise had brought peace back to the warring nation, and their mission was complete there. The party must have been somewhat bittersweet because of the hundreds upon hundreds of lives that had been lost in the battles, and how the entire operation had been considered a failure halfway through, but they turned it around once they gathered enough attention from powerful countries, and in the very end returned with exponentially more power than they had begun with. After the party, and after Roméo ensured that the clean-up and healing processes had begun, and that Rwandans could handle the rest themselves, they were able to leave Africa. They finally departed on August 20, 1994. The whole thing had lasted nearly a year.

The book has come a long way from the beginning, starting from a small group of under armed, under funded, under powered, untried, battle fresh recruits. Those very soldiers used what they had and turned themselves into battle ready, hardened, powerful individuals, that were ready for anything. It took time, and sadly, the lives of many military operatives, as well as the lives of many innocent civilians in Rwanda. One of the saddest parts about reading this book has been the realization that this issue, many previous incidents, and a lot of current issues have been out of the light of the media. Nobody wants to have anything to do with it. The only time any attention is brought to these issues is when a celebrity or someone similar visits one of these countries, and calls attention to a small, seemingly bad area. The only problem with this is that in truth, those areas are nowhere near as bad as many others in the country, and even after all the attention the individual may call to the seemingly bad area, the light shed on the subject quickly dissipates back into nothing. There were times in the book when I was sure that the operation was doomed, and that there was nothing that could be done to save them aside from pulling out and leaving Rwanda to its own vices. I am extremely grateful that this did not happen as it would have lead to the deaths of many more innocent lives in Rwanda, and it would have made for a very uninteresting disappointing read.

The passage that struck me this last time around was one of the more surprising things that I have read in the book. The passage was, “By this point I wasn’t bothering to make excuses any more to disguise my quest for solitude. I would just sneak away and then drive around, thinking all manner of black thoughts that I couldn’t permit myself to say to anyone for fear of the effect on the morale of my troops. Without my marking the moment, death became a desired option. I hoped I would hit a mine or run into an ambush and just end it all. I think some part of me wanted to join the legions of dead, whom I felt I had failed. I could not face the thought of leaving Rwanda alive after so many people had died. On my travels around the country, whole roads and villages were empty, as if they’d been hit by a nuclear bomb or the bubonic plague. You could drive for miles without seeing a single human being or a single living creature. Everything seemed so dead.” (Dallaire 500). This passage was surprising because it was the first time I can recall that Roméo has given up. He has showed courage and power throughout the book up until this point, and it gives me as the reader a small peek into the softer side of the iron hard Roméo Dallaire that I have been reading about. I very much enjoyed reading Shake Hands With the Devil. If I had the chance to choose it again, I probably would. It was an entertaining, emotionally wrenching, informative, work of literature, and deserves more recognition than it has.

Nolan W.
Research Blog 3

This week I have completely solidified my topic, and I can (and have) begin doing the prewriting steps of my research paper. I now know exactly how to go about doing this project, and am now completely comfortable with it. The research question is,”How has Genocide affected countries that it occurs in?”  My research question has not changed since my last post, as I have decided that it is completely appropriate for the subject matter, closely related to the assigned book, and a broad enough question that can be answered and written about in great detail in a research paper. In my last post I made the comment that civil war is not being publicized or documented well, but I found as a rather large surprise to me, that genocide is not being well documented either, and is being horribly publicized. I am currently working on the shaping sheet for the research paper, and it is coming along quite smoothly, and surprisingly easy to organize. In the last paper I wrote, I actually drafted the paper before I used the shaping sheet (I later wrote a second paper after using the sheet), and now that I have done it in the correct order, I can see how much easier this paper is going to be to write if I utilize this sheet. I have realized since my last post just how much of a blessing Google docs has been to me. I do not have any Microsoft programs on my dad’s company laptop, (the company president does not like Microsoft, as he was part of a team that attempted to make a competing set of programs) and my home computer is from the early 90’s and is QUITE slow, so using Microsoft Word, and the Internet at the same time is a stretch for it. With Google Docs I can use either computer, or really any computer with Internet access for that matter, and not have to worry about programs, and as an added bonus I have most of the material I need already contained in my Google Docs portfolio.

SHWTD Response 9 (11/1/09)

400-450 November 1, 2009
Shake Hands With the Devil, Roméo Dallaire.

In this section of pages, Dallaire has been working to reduce the violence in Rwanda. Very little of it has dissipated, but it has been slowed down a degree. Sadly I do not feel that it will stay this way very long, because it is such a small sudden change, and in this book nothing lasts unless it is a big change. Either way, I am excited to see what happens next.Roméo has recieved more vehicles from the United States, and though UNAMIR had to pay a rather large sum of four million dollars to lease the vehicles, they were a much needed tactical resource and advantage. I have noticed thatRoméo’s troops obey him much more than they did earlier in the book. This has lead to more power in UNAMIR , and no troops, guns, vehicles, or bombs were obtained to have this power gain, it was simply the troops listening to him. It is amazing how many unsung heroes are in this book, any yet how little they have been praised and brought to public attention.

Lately the violence in the book has been reduced, but it was by a minimal degree. UNAMIR troops are still dying, and Rwandans are still being massacred. It pains me to read this, and realize just how belittled Dallaire must have felt when he was in many of these situations. He certainly must have been affected for many years by the memories of dead bodies piled up and rotting in a ditch beside the road. The worst part it that he saw not one or two bodies, but thousands of bodiesduring his efforts in Rwanda, and could only hope for relief. I believe Dallaire has become desensitized to some fears lately. In one scene in this book, a Mortar exploded 10 meters away from him and his troops, they all instinctively dropped to the ground, confirmed that no one was hurt, and ran to take cover in some of their armored vehicles.Dallaire on the other hand did not take cover in the vehicle, but simply put his flack jacket on and walked over to the crater the mortar had created so that he could determine some facts about it.

The passage that caught my attention this time was actually on the very first page. the passage was, “… I found out that Captain Diagne Mbaye of Sengal had been git by mortar fragments fired bu the RPF at an RGF roadblock while he was bringing back a message for me from Bizimungu. Diagne was dead before he hit the dashboard. He was the Military observer who had saved Prime Minister Agathe’s children, and in the weeks since he had personally saved the lives of dozens upon dozens of Rwandans. Braving direct and indirect fire, mines, mobs, disease and any number of other threats, he eagerly accepted any mission that would save lives.” It makes me sad to realize that the hero in this passage will go unknown to many, and even to those he saved who might not have a name to go with the face that saved them. This is not the first time a hero has died in the book,in fact , many have died, and none have been publicized for their great deeds. Shake Hands With the Devil is still a great book despite the pain it contains. I am very excited to see what happens next.