Monday, May 30, 2016
Every generation has its war, it seems. For my parents, that war was World War II (I was born two months before the end of the war in Europe). For me, that war was the Vietnam "conflict" (although, of course it was a war...it was not so called at the time). Today, it is the extended conflicts... Afghanistan, or Iraq.
Perhaps the reason for a war, and the way it is fought, influences how we think about war, and warriors. Of course, today as Memorial Day is a day during which we think of war, especially those who fought and died. Or at least we SHOULD think of them. (Instead too many people are thinking of barbecues, beer, and beaches.)
When I think of war, I think of the waste, the sadness, the sacrifice. Oh, of course I think of the "good" reasons that wars are fought. I can't imagine the world which would have existed had Hitler and the Axis powers won World War II. Go further back in U.S. history and imagine what things would be like had President Lincoln NOT insisted on preserving the state of the union as a UNITED States.
But, I also think of the wrong reasons that political leaders commit troops to battle. We need go back no further than the "second" Iraq war...fought for? Well, name the reasons. Was the world preserved in any way for a better future? And, my generation's war--Vietnam--so many young people died that most of us who were alive in the 1960s most likely know someone who either died there or was injured. When I went to the Vietnam War memorial "the Wall" I found the names of two young men I knew who had died there.
So, it's complicated. I never want to detract from the sacrifice that young men (and women) make when they answer their country's call. But I do question why the call is sounded.
On this Memorial Day, I honor those who sacrificed to make the world a better place. And I question those who march young people off to battle for specious reasons.