Monday is the day we set aside to honor those who have fought America’s wars. There will be parades where vets will squeeze into their uniforms one more time and stand proudly before the people who owe them so much.
There will be 21-gun salutes for those who are no longer with us, flags will fly in abundance, and those who care will pause to thank the people who made the best of often impossible situations to fight for their country.
As an Army vet who served during the Vietnam War, I appreciate the sentiment behind those efforts and encourage them, but that isn’t what I want. I want something far more important, something that will show we really value our military personnel: Leaders who have the guts and wisdom to fight only the wars worth fighting.
The United States has been involved in 27 military conflicts since the end of World War II, ranging from the forgettable (does anybody remember why we invaded Grenada?) to the disastrous (Vietnam). We are now winding down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have cost us over $1 trillion and more than 50,000 casualties. Can somebody explain to me what we have accomplished, other than line the pockets of corrupt “allies” and further inflame Muslim hatred of the United States?
We have certainly been inventive when it comes to justifying wars. Contain Communism. Bestow the benefits of freedom on oppressed people. Topple murderous dictators. Protect the interests of the United States, wherever they may be. Promote economic freedom and prosperity.
Then, of course, there are the lies: The Gulf of Tonkin (Vietnam), Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction (Iraq), keeping Communism from our door step (Bay of Pigs). The list isn’t endless, but it is extensive.
I’m tired of people who think we need to be the world’s policeman, of American “exceptionalism” (whatever that means) that gives us the right to tell other people how to lead their lives, of neo-conservatives who want to rearrange the world order to suit their ends, of presidents who want payback because some two-bit dictator tried to assassinate his father, and of members of Congress who–sheep like–will believe anything the administration tells them when it comes to war.
If I ever have a grandson and he is ever sent off to war, I hope he can come marching home again with his head held high, knowing that he has fought to preserve the freedoms we hold dear. If he is unfortunate enough to fall in combat, I hope his loved ones will be able to take comfort in the fact that our Commander in Chief asked him to fight a just war. I hope his mother–my daughter–doesn’t stand over his grave and think, “What a waste.”
That is what I want for Veterans Day.