“Peace demands the most heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice. It demands greater heroism than war. It demands greater fidelity to the truth and a much more perfect purity of conscience.” Thomas Merton
It is Veterans Day here in what many would call the greatest nation on the planet. It is a day to wave flags and remember the valiant. It is a day to honor the deceased for their sacrifice. It is a day that most Americans do not have the first fucking clue about. There is little understanding of what it means to be a veteran, and even less idea what most veterans go through on a day to day basis.
Now, for those still reading, this is not some unpatriotic rant from a bleeding heart liberal peacenik moron. I am a veteran of the United States Army from which I was Honorably Discharged after completing the term of service for which I VOLUNTEERED.
I was not much of a soldier but I did what I was told and went where I was sent. I did not receive any medals for bravery and valor. I was a Private First Class who drove a truck in an Artillery Battalion. For some reason I had a Top Secret clearance which made me eligible for some unusual duty in various places around the world. The most interesting of these extra duties was a seven day posting to Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin when there was still such a thing as East and West Berlin/Germany.
Volunteering was not a popular thing to do when I did. Many were protesting the war that was being fought at the time with many of my friends doing the opposing to that war. There were people being drafted based on a birth date lottery. My number was well out of the range of being chosen. I volunteered anyway.
I did so because my father did in WWII. I did because America is worthy of “…heroic labor and the most difficult sacrifice.” I did so because it was a choice I had having recently graduated high school and not entering college. I regret nothing about being a soldier, and never will. If it was today…I would still enlist.
What I would not do is recommend, counsel, entreat, or otherwise persuade any young person to join the Armed Forces.
We have grown, as the dictionary defines being obtuse as, “annoyingly insensitive, or slow to understand.” We fight wars that do not have the meaning they are assigned. We fight wars that we lose. WWII had a reason. We were attacked by an enemy whose stated objective was the decimation of the American way of life and thus was in dire need of defense.
Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were unnecessary wars that killed a huge number of people that did not deserve to die. We went to Korea and never finished what we were supposed to do there with the result that N. Korea is now a dangerous enemy. We spent 9305 days in Vietnam and were forced to leave while communist forces took over the country. We were attacked on 911 by citizens from Saudi Arabia and attacked Iraq. We went to Afghanistan to find Osama Bin Laden and are still there…almost six years later. Not one of these countries is significantly better because of our presence within their borders. Korea is a hotbed of divisiveness and holds the potential for the beginning of another war every day. Vietnam is a thriving nation but not due to our American values. Iraqi citizens had a decent lifestyle before we came in and blew up their cities and plunged then into poverty because we did not like their leader.
Realistically, the inspiration for these wars, on a rhetorical level was sound. Communism was a terrible system and hurt many people. Not so much today. On principle it made sense to attack Korea and Vietnam because of the atrocious lives led by people in China, Cuba, and the Soviet Union. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and needed to be removed. Yes, Osama Bin Laden needed to be found. But let’s look at a few realities.
- Korea has a history of incursions on their society dating to its founding in 2233 BC. We did nothing to help that trend to stop.
- Vietnam was possibly the most conquered country in Asia for nearly the last four thousand years. It wasn’t until America came around that they were able to throw an invader out and thrive.
- Iraqi’s had a normal life with employment and wealth available. They lived under Draconian rule but should have had the choice to change that on their own. These were not uneducated poor peasants. They lived better than most people on Earth. Until America decided to carpet bomb their capital. A city 1250 years old which, at one time, was the largest metropolitan area in the world. The only things the Americans really did in Iraq was send it back to the 7th Century by rendering the electricity, and other essential services useless.
- The only thing we have accomplished in Afghanistan was to perpetuate a warlike culture that has existed for as long as there has been a country in some form. We should have packed up and left the minute we got Osama Bin Laden who we found in PAKISTAN!
Being a veteran I grieve for the fallen. We have given out too many medals. Awards for bravery are necessary when we send our people to war. They give the most of themselves and absolutely deserve to be honored. How about honoring them when they get home? Why are 22 veterans committing suicide every day? Why does the VA allow a sick or troubled ex-warrior to wait months for doctor’s appointments? Why do they have to go to the emergency room to get help (the most expensive type of care) and be turned away?
Because politicians wave flags and vomit rhetoric they do not fully understand in order to send out valiant Service people across the globe to get killed, crippled, maimed, and damaged in the name of a country that just elected an accused pedophile to be our president!