I had been hoping to make an attempt at a Memorial Day-related post that combines wit, wisdom, and diplomacy. Well … that went out the window when my temperature yesterday hit 101.7. I’m afraid that I can manage diplomacy, perhaps, but little wisdom and certainly no wit.
So let me just say, briefly, that I may have been an impassioned opponent of this war from the moment Fox News first orgasmed at the prospects of blowing the Iraqis back to the Stone Age in March 2003. I was sitting in my living room, pleading to see the face of a war critic who was permitted to speak out … and finding nobody to interrupt the flow of “embedded” reporters and other enthusiastic war hawks. And what I was thinking way back then, what I still often think about, was that the fundamental issue was not “what will be the consequences of the war?” but “do we even have a right to be there?”
All that said, today is indeed a day that all of us should take seriously -- doves as well as hawks. The GIs whom we have lost in this war remain, in my eyes, as heroic as those who have died in more revered and Hollywood-friendly combat such as that which took place in
All of our veterans signed up to protect a society that can aptly be called the world’s oldest, continuing democracy on a grand scale. They signed up knowing that their job wasn’t to ask questions but to put themselves in harms way, and they did it not only for themselves but for us. Sure, they might have eyed a business career emerging down the road from the expertise they gathered. But they DEFINITELY understood that they might never live long enough to have that career. They also understood that without their courage, our descendents might never know the value of such concepts as “the right of free speech” “checks and balances” or the “separation of church and state.”
Our Iraqi vets gave up their lives by the thousands and we, no matter what we think of the war, owe them a huge debt of thanks. Politicians who talk about their having died “for nothing” may have had their heart in the right place, but their brains were elsewhere. These soldiers died for the principle that it is of infinite value for any large country, including any great democracy, to ask for volunteers who will serve with valor at any time that our Government believes that a war is in the national interest. Once we encourage soldiers to pick and choose which of our wars to fight in, and once we look with pity and disgust at the lives of those lost in fighting to protect our liberties and our way of life, that’s when we’ll know that our love of peace has been taken too far. That’s when we’ll know that we, no less than our enemies, have become blinded by our ideology.
In short, don’t pity heroes. Emulate them.