Memorial Day 5/26/19

By Richard Bleil

Paraphrasing somebody far more intelligent that I, war is the inevitable result of failed diplomacy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that I could have done any better, but if you think about Afghanistan, we have been involved in that war for eighteen years.

Eighteen years.

My friends insisted that we would be in and out in a matter of months, but I couldn’t help but think of the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union which lasted from 1979 to 1989. Ten years in Afghanistan, and just 12 years later, my friends thought we would be in and out in a matter of months.

The excuse for invading was the search for Osama bin Laden. With diplomacy, we should have been able to work with the Afghanistan governing bodies to find him. If we knew where he was, and diplomacy had failed, we had the technology to knock out the Afghanistan air defenses and go get him. Instead, we are in a war that is currently being joined by men and women who were born as it was starting.

By now, I have lost many of my readers who believe this to be a US bashing piece, but it isn’t. So those still reading in hopes that it will be can be expected to stop reading fairly soon as well, leaving you.

Yes, you. You are the only one still reading. Sigh.

The US has been involved in many unpopular wars. In the Korean Conflict, the American people turned on our own troops, insulting them, and hurling bags of urine at them on their return to the US.

Is THIS who we are? God, I hope not.

The reality is that, whether the war is just or not, the men and women of the US military are doing exactly what we need them to do; they are following orders. The military personnel were not responsible for the war in Korea, they are not responsible for the war in Afghanistan, and if we end up in a war in Iran, as many people fear that we will although I believe it is little more than posturing for the sake of distraction, it will not be because of our military personnel.

There are atrocities caused by some of our military personnel which is always tragic, but the US troops overall are professionals and such incidents are the exception rather than the rule because of this, and all of them put themselves in harms way. The specifics may vary; some may have family they wish to protect, some of them are patriotic believers in the American way, but all of them believe it to be the right thing to do. And all of them risk their lives for us.

There are three major holidays celebrating the men and women of the armed services. Veteran’s Day is specifically meant to celebrate US military survivors of war. This is something of a misnomer, though, because many of our surviving veterans suffer a lifetime of physical and emotional problems after their service to the country, and they should all be celebrated and cared for by our country far better than they are. Armed Forces Day celebrates the men and women currently in the military. Whether they face war or are stationed at relatively safe locations, they are nonetheless separated from their friends and loved ones, sacrificing of themselves in their service.

The purpose of Memorial Day is to give us pause to remember those in the military who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and will never be with us again. This is most likely the first and largest fear of anybody with a loved one in the armed forces, and yet, we all know that it’s necessary. Ours is a nation bathed in the blood of patriots, and our freedom and liberty demands sacrifice.

I am not suggesting that we should be spending Memorial Day depressed and weeping over those that we lost to war, but, we should keep in mind that there will be those who will be spending it that way because of a personal tragedy they have suffered. I’m not suggesting that we should forego cookouts for history lessons, but we should keep in mind those who cannot join us as they gave their lives for us. I’m not suggesting that we give up Memorial Day sales, but it is worth noting that we are a capitalist nation rather than a communist one because of our armed forces, and those who died believing in what it means to be American.

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