Yes, the declamatory soul singer had the right idea when he grunted out

War, huh, yeah
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing

He went on to add

War means tears
To thousands of mothers eyes
When their sons go to fight
And lose their lives

And he much more eloquently expresses my own belief about the value of war

War, it ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker
War, it’s got one friend
That’s the undertaker
Ooooh, war, has shattered
Many a young mans dreams
Made him disabled, bitter and mean
Life is much to short and precious
To spend fighting wars these days
War can’t give life
It can only take it away

As Memorial Day dawned yesterday my anti-war passions were again aroused, though they are never hidden very deeply withiun my personal memory bank.

 Memorial Day is when we honor those servicemen and women who have lost their lives on behalf of their country.

It is often said with great rhetorical flourishes that all have sacrificed their very selves in order to protect and retain the liberty of the rest of us.

Oh if it were only so. Unfortunately far too many of those lying under headstones in our national cemeteries or who had a flag  over their remains in private graveyards Monday died at the behest of callous politicians in foreign misadventures where America’s liberty was not threatened in the least.

All these soldiers still merit the honors bestowed upon them because they did not initiate these unworthy conflicts but merely responded to their nation’s call.

There is a constant call for support for our troops currently deployed thousands of miles from home. Would it not be better support for our current troops in harm’s way and their counterparts in the future to bring them home or refuse to expose them to danger in the first place unless it is demonstrable that our freedom, our borders and our citizens’ lives are truly at stake?

I was asked if that meant, rather than leaving war decisions to politicians I would have such matters submitted to popular vote.

My answer was succinct.

Popular vote……….NO
Actual threat to our liberty……….YES

No “domino theory”, “weapons of mass destruction”, Kuwaiti invasion, ChiComs crossing the 38th parallel, CIA financed Taliban, Balkans genocide, or Libyan civil war has ever met this criteria.

In these periods in our history none of our enemies has been within 5000 miles of our borders. yet we’ve had over 100,000 young men and women die in these foreign lands while protecting nothing, save for the misguided policies and fear mongering rhetoric of our elected leaders.

Now remember, I neither blame those soldiers, living or dead, who have been in the center of these battles, nor seek to dishonor them in any way.  I have visited Arlington Cemetery, observed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns and been incredibly moved.

Moreso, on one occasion my then pre-teen sons were with me and with no prodding were silent and respectful  as they should be…as we all should be.

On a further tour of that burial plot divided acreage that is both solemn and serene, the endless rows of neatly placed headstones are a silent reminder of the consequences of man’s greatest folly, war.

The most gut wrenching moments of my life resulted from learning of the useless death of a dear fraternity brother in Vietnam and attending his funeral. In light of some of my personal sufferings that is a significant distinction.

There are a number of quotes emanating from far more fertile minds than mine that capsulize my own feelings and hopefully may be thought-provoking to you.

It has too often been too easy for rulers and governments to incite man to war.
Lester B. Pearson
I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
George McGovern

In modern war… you will die like a dog for no good reason.
Ernest Hemingway

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
David Friedman
There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.
Henry Ellis
When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.
Jean-Paul Sartre
My fervent hope:
 Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.
Carl Sandburg
And my favorite, highlighted on my Facebook profile:
 There was never a good war, or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin
So as another Memorial Day passes with over 100,000 of our fine young men and women exposed to danger in foreign lands, let us always remember those who passed before them who died and let us hope that these folks do not join those ranks.
They should be respected and honored.
I choose one above all for special recognition.
John Ray “Chip” Williams
May you forever rest in peace.
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