Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we celebrate the service and sacrifice of our veterans - the dead, the wounded, and those who put on the uniform and survived unscathed. For some, like me, serving in the armed forces was perhaps the most formative and positive experience of their lives. For others, serving resulted in their mental or physical destruction or their death. In peacetime or wartime, the military is a hazardous occupation where you're told where to go and what to do - and you do it. Your country owes you its gratitude.

Tonight I think of my nephew Will, who pilots a helicopter as a Navy ensign. I think of my grandson Michael, who guards our Marines from a foxhole in Iraq. I pray they will not lose life or limb while they serve, and that they will keep their humanity while they practice or perform the art of war.

Tonight I also think of those presidents - John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and George W. Bush -who sent our troops to Viet Nam in 1965 and to Iraq in 2003, our wars of choice. I do not honor them - I detest them. The soldiers who fought deserve our respect, but these leaders deserve our scorn. It's a crime to send our soldiers into war if our country has not been attacked or in immanent jeopardy. How can these men ever be honored? What other accomplishments can offset the human tragedy they initiated? The office of Commander in Chief is a curse, not a task to be relished. Please, Obama, get it right!

When will war become obsolete? Doesn't the world have enough resources for all to share and all to prosper? Doesn't the world face greater long long term threats than conflict between countries? Haven't we memorialized enough broken men? It's time for change.

2 comments:

Eusebius said...

Eisenhower's warnings about the military industrial complex continue to seem prescient. If you have the power, it is hard to resist using it. Lots of people have strong profit/political motives to make sure we have the power.

I think I could feel safe if our military spending were dropped so that we were only equal to the next top five countries even rather than exceeding the combined military budget of the rest of the world.

Too bad that suggesting a drop in military spending is political suicide for most positions.

Dave K said...

I really appreciated this post. When leaders take advantage of the good-will, hard work, and lives of soldiers and their families, I find myself torn between grief, anger, depression, and hopelessness.

I know politics is a complicated business - but that doesn't make war any less of a tragedy.