Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

To the veterans out there… Thank you.

I have, for nearly all my life, thanked veterans, police officers, and firemen for their efforts on behalf of country and community.

In every conversation I have had with a veteran about the wars they have been in, and about war in general, I have not met a group of people more anti-war than veterans.

Something has been bothering me about the adulation for veterans since 9-11, and I think I have finally teased out of my subconscious what it is.

It isn’t right.

Bear with me.

I always felt a twinge, one I wasn’t sure about, when I heard people thanking a veteran for protecting our freedom when they have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan.  Was that what they were doing?  Or were they following orders from politicians who had other reasons than preserving freedom?

Those veterans joined the military, with the idea of serving country, protecting our country, preserving our freedom. Is that what they are doing?

After the Vietnam War we moved away from the draft and embraced the volunteer army.  Those who serve do so because they chose to put themselves under the authority of the military and the civilian government which controls it.

Prior to that the government simply drafted the people needed to fight a war.  That meant the war they fought had to be justified.  They had to sell the reasons for that war to the people.  

America fought fiercely in wars in which the fate of the world was at stake.  And Americans volunteered for those wars (in addition to being drafted).  

The situation now is men volunteer to stand ready, and politicians spend those lives as they see fit.

It isn’t enough to salve my conscience to tell a veteran thank you for risking his life, especially when it may not have been for my freedom but for political maneuvering or to leverage oil, territory, or other goals.

It isn’t enough to tsk tsk poor medical care or small pensions or offer counseling to veterans who come home damaged and have no homes.

Perhaps it would be better to bring back the draft and have us all be put at risk for the decisions of our leaders.  Perhaps our leaders would be more cautious with lives if there was an immediate appreciation for the human costs.

For those of you who serve in the military, I thank you.  For those of you who have risked your lives to fight in wars past, I honor you. 

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