I never served in the armed forces. I came into political consciousness in the shadow of the Vietnam War, and because of that, I’ve believed in pacifism for most of my life. Pacifism was applicable on a personal level, but I’ve never been so naive to believe that a nation could long endure without the protection afforded by men and women in uniform. I reconciled this contradiction between personal belief and political reality with the certainty that after our Southeast Asian debacle, our formidable army would be used for defense, for peacekeeping, for the prevention of genocide… never as a belligerent invasion force.
Despite my lack of service, I’ve been surrounded most of my life by ex-military people.
- My father spent 3 years in the Marines, then served another four years in the Navy — he was lucky enough to serve in the period between Korea and Vietnam, so although he spent plenty of time at sea, he never saw action.
- My uncle served two tours of duty in Vietnam and to this day, he won’t talk about his time there. We don’t ask anymore.
- My younger brother served six years in the Navy, most of them in Japan, stationed on the USS Midway. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Midway, with my brother and 4000 other crew aboard sailed to the Persian Gulf and fought there until Operation Desert Storm was completed.
I’ve never felt anything but respect for these men and the many millions of other men and women who have served their country and provided me with the freedom to avoid serving. Veteran’s Day is always an important holiday, but this year it has an extra significance because we have troops fighting and dying in two foreign countries. They are fighting and dying because this President lied to us and to them.
He and his greedy cronies have lied about everything since they have been in office. While insinuating that those of us who were against the belligerent action against Iraq were anti-American and anti-troops, he and his administration have stolen shamelessly the benefits and basic dignity of the armed forces. While signing bills which ostensibly give back some of what he has taken away from veterans, servicemen and women and their families, he has refused to fund those initiatives, preferring to distribute some more largesse on the whores of industry who slobber at his feet, perverting the Oval Office more than his predecessor ever did.
While laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he profanes that sacred ground by his presence there. He pretends to honor unknown soldiers, but ignores the ones with names and faces, forbidding the media to acknowledge the arrival of the flag-draped coffins at Dover AFB. He has not met with the families of dead soldiers, nor has he visited the Dover morgue to pay respects and honor those he sent to die.
I am no one. I am just another little voice on the web. My words mean nothing compared to those which might come from the mouth and the heart of a leader or a statesman. I despise this war. I oppose the liars who have led us into our aggressive action in Iraq.
But, today, I want to thank my brother and my father and my uncle and all the members of the various services who — for whatever reason — are standing firm and risking everything for their belief in an America which I fear no longer exists.