Happy Veterans Day! (observed)

I spent some time yesterday trying to think of a good entry in honor of Veteran’s Day to no avail. My first thought was to post a rant about how it seems to be popular to accuse liberals of not appreciating the men and women who have given their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy and how that’s not true of any liberal that I’m aware of and how it’s ironic that this complaint is really about how those people are upset with us liberals daring to make use of those hard-won freedoms, such as the freedom of speech, to actually voice dissent or question the justification for some current military action. It’s almost as if we’re being told: “Hey! A lot of people fought and died to defend your right to speak your mind and the least you could do to show some appreciation is to SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

But I didn’t want it to be a rant so I spent several hours playing with my wife… er… playing World of Warcraft with my wife that is.

I can’t speak for every liberal, but this one does appreciate the sacrifices of those people who have and do put their lives on the line to ensure that the freedoms I enjoy today are still here tomorrow. My father was old enough that he participated in World War II and I’ve had uncles, in-laws, and friends who have all spent time in the service of this country and their stories over the years have helped to give me a very personal sense of what they must have gone through. No matter how much I may agree or disagree with a particular military decision of my government, I will always appreciate and support the troops who are called upon to take on the tasks required. You have my deepest and most sincere thanks.

13 thoughts on “Happy Veterans Day! (observed)

  1. Actually, let me contribute this from my own personal blog, posted a couple of months ago:

    My friend from first grade lost her father yesterday. 

    He was a great father and a war hero.  He was tall, ramrod straight, and had piercing blue eyes; he had a deep, rumbling voice and a Panhandle accent that took you years to understand.  He was quiet but kind and had a sly sense of humor that sneaked out if you were careful enough to listen for it.

    He survived three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese in WWII, including a trip on the notorious hellship Haro Maru.  He collected the poems and songs that his fellow POWs wrote on scraps of paper and anything else they could find, saved them through the long war, and finally published them in 1995, as Barbed Wire and Rice.  He returned to the US after the war, became a petroleum engineer, raised a family, and in his steady, quiet way, went on with his life.

    Just a couple of months ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  I sat with his family while he was in surgery.  The doctor had originally planned only to remove the lower lobe of one lung, where the tumor was found; but he came out in mid-operation and told them that the tumor had grown into the upper lobe as well, so he was considering taking out the whole lung.  But he added that if they found cancer in any of the lymph nodes, he would leave the upper lobe in. 

    Which, as it turned out, is what happened.  I don’t know whether they decided to leave part of the lung in, knowing that it had part of the tumor in it, to give him more stamina for the following radiation therapy, or whether it was an acknowledgement that nothing more was possible except to give him a better quality of life for as long as he would continue to have it. 

    In any case, he underwent 23 radiation treatments, and then finally collapsed.  The cancer had done what the Japanese never managed to do. 

    You can read his story here.  I am glad he did not suffer long, and that he’s at peace now, but I will miss him greatly.

  2. i found this picture to be very profound.

    i come from family with a military tradition.  we’re very patriotic -a trait which i believe has been dying off in america since the 60’s.

    just one word to those people that like to speak their anti-war minds when we have troops in the field:  just be aware that that can lower troop moral and take into consideration if you think the troops would agree with you.  please don’t argue for their good will if you don’t know anything about them or their desires.  you may have the right to do it, but is it really the right thing to do? 

    les -that was the longest sentence i’ve seen for a while.  the jury is still out, but i’m certain that was a rant ;]

  3. So, as I said previously, you think it’s best that we just shut the fuck up. Sorry, but if they’re going to be out there fighting for my freedom to speak my mind then I’m damned sure going to use it otherwise just what the fuck are they fighting for?

  4. For what it’s worth, both my parents (mother and father) were in WWII – in Japan and other parts of the South Pacific.  They were both deeply devoted patriots and believed in freedom – of speech, of choice and of religion.

    I think it was the McCarthy era and Viet Nam that turned my parents toward liberal leanings, though they were always ticket splitters.  Not every veteran is a conservative!  They both were marginally supportive of Desert Storm, but neither survived for Iraq II.  I think if they were alive today they would be apalled at the deception and religious leanings of the current administration – that is not what they fought for.  They would be praying for the troops in the field but hoping for greater wisdom from the top.

  5. Here’s a very well done tribute. We Support Our Troops

    During the Gulf War, I thought those that bad mouthed the military were assholes, but I wanted to read everything I could get my hands on from folks who opposed the war itself.  Call me cynical, but I like to get all sides of a story.

    I think it’s always good practice to separate the war from the warrior.

  6. So, as I said previously, you think it’s best that we just shut the fuck up.

    no, that’s not what i said.  that’s just how you wanted to read it.  christ man.

    my point was that people shouldn’t assume that they’re doing troops in the field a favor by speaking out against the conflict they are involved with.  they shouldn’t assume that the troops feel the same way and will appreciate their actions.

  7. grey

    I haven’t seen anyone around here who claims to speak for the troops, and I haven’t seen anyone against the war who claims to speak for the troops. The fact is that the troops are individuals and have all decided in their own minds whether the war they are fighting is worth it. The best thing we can do to support them is to not hide our own opinions, to make them heard no matter how we fear they may be recieved in Iraq or on any other battlefield.

    My problem isn’t with soldiers doing their job, it’s with the politicians who sent them there.

  8. Les- my sentiments exactly.  I for one am glad to live in a country where I can speak my mind (Austria), and I’m grateful to those who made it possible, including the Americans.

    Mick- what you said.

    Grey- I’ve read and reread your posts above, and can’t see how they can mean anything other than this: that we should not ever protest any war we are involved in, lest we lower the morale of the troops.  So you’re saying that no matter how stupid and destructive and dangerous a war is, we should just shut the fuck up?  Were you around for the Vietnam war?  I heard this argument then too, and look where it got us.  My uncle Bob, now eighty, fought in WWII.  I don’t know anyone more patriotic.  He voted Democratic for the first time in his life this election, and speaks out against the war in Iraq.  Should he just shut up too?

    Patriotism in defence of liberty is a fine thing, but patriotism for the sake of troop morale, or in defence of “my country, right or wrong”, is, as they say, “the last refuge of the scoundrel” and a big part of the woes of the world.

  9. from above- my point was that people shouldn’t assume that they’re doing troops in the field a favor by speaking out against the conflict they are involved with.  they shouldn’t assume that the troops feel the same way and will appreciate their actions.

    i don’t really know how else to put it. 

    don’t assume that exercising your right is going to benefit anyone ‘over there’.  i can’t stand the people that cry out against war for the ‘sake of the troops’.  they don’t know the troops.  they don’t know their thoughts and feelings.  half the time it just pisses them off.  speak your pretty little heart out, just don’t do it in their name.

  10. Les – This very much reminds me of a thread we had a while back discussing how if you said something and needed to explain it afterward, maybe it was better left unsaid in the first place.  If I remember correctly, it had to do with Bush clarifying one of his points and digging himself deeper into a hole.

  11. I don’t think grey’s point is a bad one.  Surely there is a range of opinions among soldiers as among everyone else.  It would be interesting to know what percentage of soldiers’ opinions amount to “Get me the fuck out of here!!!

    And opinions – anyone’s – have little bearing on if the war is a good idea or not.  To form a useful opinion we have to wrestle with morals, listen to others, weigh the facts, make the best judgement we can and acknowledge the possibility that we might be wrong.  I’m afraid the Bush administration has kind of skipped over the listening and acknowledging parts of that list.

  12. grey, when you’re speaking of a group of individuals who are, to a great degree, disallowed to speak their true minds, and say they might disagree with our assessments, you come across as more than a bit disingenuous. For you to say:

    just be aware that that can lower troop moral and take into consideration if you think the troops would agree with you.  please don’t argue for their good will if you don’t know anything about them or their desires.

    assumes that all the soldiers in Iraq are in support of the war. Some may not be in support of and it is unlikely we could negatively affect their morales by supporting their feelings. It also assumes we couldn’t possibly know anything of their desires. We can know, though often the only way to get clues to their feelings is to consider the justifications for, and conditions of, the war they are direct participants in.

    In other words, anytime you are a member of an organization that you cannot publicly or confidentially disagree with (without fear of Court Marshal), that you cannot remove yourself from and that you cannot even tell others of without heavy edits being involved, it would seem impossible for those outside the organization to have general awareness of your true feelings.

    To get the answers to how soldiers feel about this war we are left to consider human nature. We contemplate the war they are involved in; whether it was honestly and intelligently prosecuted and whether these soldiers are being provided with all they need to do their jobs.

    We know they did not all have needed assorted protective gear, that at least one division refused a mission because their vehicles were unarmored and in need of repairs. We know that generals have gone on record to say the invasion was understaffed and badly planned for, and that this is still true. We know that the very conditions we went there to confront mostly came about after we invaded and this tells us much about how soldiers are likely feeling about this war.

    In the end some may relish it, some likely dread it every moment of their waking hours, and many cannot know what they actually feel because they have been trained by the military organization to push all feelings of individual desires and opinions aside. The American armed forces do a great job of blinding individual perceptions. They do this so well that soldiers still believe the propaganda they’ve accepted for years after they’ve left active service.

    In some ways the only ones who have clear enough minds, able to approach the subject of how soldiers feel about a war, may be those who are not in the thick of it. These nonparticipants at least have potentially useful clarity of detachment and are often privy to information the soldiers are not given.

    It takes all angles and information to reveal a war for what it really is. Don’t deny objective considerations that may allow more combatants to live: Innocent combatants who may otherwise die for no good reasons.

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