Today is November 11, Veterans’ Day. What began as the marking of the armistice to end World War I on 11-11-1918 at 11 a.m. evolved into Armistice Day to commemorate that occasion. Later the observance was changed to Veterans’ Day to honor all who have served in the armed forces of the United States,
Today you probably have viewed on TV or read in local papers any number of tributes to those veterans, thanking them for their service and offering encomiums to them in appreciation of their hard fight to preserve the American way of life and our precious freedoms.
However, what is wrong with this picture is that, since the end of World War II, not one American military person has been sent overseas and performed any act to “preserve our freedom”. We have dispatched millions to Korea and Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and who knows how many lands operating openly but often in secret. Not one has protected me and mine or you and yours no matter what blather is spread about their missions and accomplishments.
Not one has sacrificed life or limb for his or her country to spare us from invading hordes.
Whose fault is that? Well it most certainly is not the fault of those very veterans upon whom praise is heaped. It is the fault of the craven political leaders, Presidents and Congress alike, who have seen fit to deploy our uniformed services where they are not needed and generally not wanted and falsely justified their actions by invoking some nebulous threat to democracy.
There is no doubt that in some instances our armies forestalled other aggressors who had designs on those relatively primitive nations, but at what cost?
Korea (South of course) has managed quite well even though that police action resulted in a stalemate at the price of over 38.000 American lives, despite the succession of pint sized despots inhabiting and ruling north of the 38th Parallel.
Vietnam is a pretty thriving nation at present, a highly desirable tourist destination, reunited after our humiliating departure, having shed blood from over 58,000 dead during our presence. The inevitability of our defeat was foreshadowed by the words of the North Vietnamese Regular Army officer at the end of the Movie We Were Soldiers whose observation was that the American victory at Ia Drang would make not a whit of difference in the long run.
Our recent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have added several thousand more names to the honor roles of our esteemed dead and many times more patients needing enough long term care to support battalions of doctors treating their wounds.
All of these wars have arisen from dubious rationales. The past two are notable in addition because they involved all volunteer armies…not draftees…making it far easier for politicians to promote these invasions without possible blowback from charges they escaped duty by evading the draft, however legal.
Now it is difficult to turn around without seeing another group of blowhards speak of their pride in our veterans and acting high and mighty patriotically. But these blowhards didn’t have to serve and remained comfortably at home while our troops served, often with multiple deployments.
It is so easy to hide behind the American flag or the playing of God Bless America and pretend you have done your part to demonstrate appreciation for the hard sacrifices our troops have made. It is also obscene and scandalous to do so while proclaiming your “support” for those same troops, who far too often have come home from war with physical and mental injuries, often unseen, and who suffer disproportionate rates of joblessness and homelessness and alcohol and drug abuse and even episodes of violence when none of these consequences of war would have occurred if they weren’t sent off to fucking useless wars initially.
To me, true support of our troops, past and present, is best manifested by refusing to force them to be placed in harm’s way save under the most extraordinary of circumstances.
I do applaud the members of our armed forces for their service as they are not the ones who make the idiot decisions putting them in danger. Even if never in battle, since WW II untold numbers of them have faced having to uproot their families multiple times during their careers while operating under that Sword of Damocles which could drop and send them into danger at any time, supposedly no questions asked.
I respect those troops and obviously will never fully understand what they have faced. I despise the hypocrites who prefer to endlessly involve those troops in battle utilizing the flimsiest of guises.
I offer my tribute to our veterans while lamenting the fact their nation has devised so many false premises that create veterans.
Tribute or lament?
The empiness of many tributes appalls me and the necessary lamentations deeply sadden me.
I would prefer none of the above.