Another Veterans' day has come and gone, a holiday on which all of us should reflect on the terrible costs of America's neverending wars. As a veteran myself, I am saddened by what I see every Veterans’ and Memorial Day. Most soldiers are remarkably like the rest of us and just want to be respected and treated fairly, not patronized or labeled with phony “hero” and “warrior” tags, not to mention the maudlin patriotism coupled with the outrageous huge American flags displayed increasingly at athletic events. My friends who were killed in ‘Nam died for nothing and it would have been better if they had been commemorated with a pledge of “never again” instead of the post facto regret that we weren’t given our due (we sure weren’t).
In my small town here in Virginia the 21 year old kid who was killed in Afghanistan two years ago was being recalled yesterday as a “hero.” He was a high school classmate of my daughter. On his last home leave he was shaking and terrified of going back. It seems he and his company were based in a valley surrounded by insurgents and were getting shelled every two hours. They were accomplishing absolutely nothing and even the officers in charge regularly described the position as untenable and pointless, recommending that it be abandoned. But they were ignored by the higher command. When the boy was ready to go back to the war he predicted that he would be killed. And he was killed, bleeding to death because of an administrative foul-up that meant that a medevac helicopter did not arrive in time. A young life lost for nothing. The position he died to defend was abandoned two weeks after his death. As I get older it is clear to me that all of these wars have brought nothing good in their wake. The sooner we can discredit the mindset that America is surrounded by enemies that we must defeat the better it will be for all of us individually and also for us as a nation.