‘War on Terror’timely subject of veterans recognition program

Posted Monday, October 28, 2019 8:09 pm
By Susan Smallheer,
Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO — Tom Costello has organized programs in Brattleboro on the Civil War, the Vietnam War and now the War on Terror.

Costello, a Brattleboro lawyer and the commander of Brattleboro’s American Legion Post 5, said this Saturday’s “War on Terror” Veterans Recognition Day will attempt to educate the public on a very timely topic.

He said this past weekend’s news that U.S. forces had killed the leader of the terrorist organization ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader and found of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was a stark reminder that the public needs and wants more information about the Middle East conflicts.

He quickly pulled out his cellphone and called up a text he had with his personal expert — his brother, retired Vice Admiral Barry Costello of the United States Navy.

“‘It’s too early to tell who will take over ISIS,'” Costello said, quoting his brother. “‘There are more questions than answers,'” he wrote.

“I think there’s a great yearning to understand,” Tom Costello said during an interview in his office. “There’s a lack of knowledge, geography, history and politics,” he said, asserting the area was “more foreign than Vietnam.”

He quoted Harvard University historian Jill Lepore that the War on Terror is inherently different than the Vietnam War, noting the military is now an all-volunteer army unlike during Vietnam, when there was a draft.

He said that of the graduating class of Brattleboro Union High School in 1964, 34 graduates joined the service, out of a class of 150. Nowadays, he said, a handful of people join the service in every class.

Saturday’s program will feature different points of view about the war in order to foster discussion, Costello said. The program will also recognize area veterans, and there will be seminars held in three locations in downtown Brattleboro Saturday afternoon, featuring local and state veteran officials.

Brattleboro Union High School history teacher Bill Holiday will start the afternoon’s program at 1 p.m. with a discussion at the American Legion Post 5, 32 Linden St.

At Brooks Memorial Library, 224 Main St., Drew Adams, a former U.S. Department of Agriculture advisor in Afghanistan, will speak at 2:15 p.m.; Christie Turner, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, will talk about “Coming Home with PTS Changed my Life” at 3:15 p.m.